Second Half and Final Grades - Part II



DARRICK MARTIN:

Howland: (B) + (Mid-Term B+) = B

Martin is what he is and on a whole did exactly what I expect out of a third PG. I don’t think there is a roster spot on this squad for him next year but much of that will depend on the coaching situation. Having Martin around this season was a good idea but the PG’s have played enough now to recognize things on the floor themselves. When Martin did play he was a good third string PG.

Franchise: (B) + (Mid-Term B+) = B

While I agree with the mark, I disagree with your take on his status for next season. The team needs a third stringer and provided Martin wants to keep playing, I’d rather have him than Juan Dixon running the show. The other option of course is to move Martin into a coaching position if B.C. needs the roster room but with no draft picks and barring a trade, I think D-Mart keeps his spot. In fact, this is another player who exceeded my expectations. Martin provided some valuable minutes for this club at times even into the playoffs and I’m not sure there’s a better third-stringer out there.

RASHO NESTEROVIC:

Howland: (C-) + (Mid-Term B+) = C

At the mid-point I was debating an A- for Rasho as he was exceeding my expectations. The second half was another story. Rasho seemed to disappear for stretches and slowly his minutes were cut back. There were times when I felt like I was watching a Hoffa-like scenario. Not that Rasho isn’t way more skilled that Araujo, but Rasho would start, play six or seven minutes and then barely see the floor again. He did little to impress or elevate his game in the second half and I expected his playoff experience to shine through. I was disappointed and now wonder whether he has a role on this team next season. He is a good player to have around in terms of chemistry and for particular situations, but he is making some serious loot. The second half of the season was really disappointing, enough so that for the year he gets a C. I simply wanted and expected more.

Franchise: (C-) + (Mid-Term B+) = B-

Totally agree again with my co-writer. In fact, I’m almost tempted to give Rasho a D based on the last thing we remember, his no-show in the playoffs. Here was a player brought in to help out in the "experience" department yet he hardly saw the floor. Perhaps the match-up just didn’t dictate it but I refuse to believe that he couldn’t at least have gotten the better of Jason Collins. Rasho is essentially a better scoring version of Collins so I’m not sure why he didn’t have an impact to start things off in the series. And as mentioned, his cost to the club compared to his production makes him an easy target. That being said Rasho did do a lot of good things this season for Toronto and was the club’s first real center in ages. Maybe he’s no Shaq, but I’m convinced that Nesterovic does a good number of things which don’t show up in the box scores yet lead to wins. And for this reason, I’m not going to vilify him completely as he basically did what I expected of a lumbering 7 footer.

ANTHONY PARKER:

Howland: (A) + (Mid-Term B+) = A-

Parker in the second half became my favourite player on the Raps squad. Over the course of the second half of the season Parker really started to find his niche on the offensive end and his play usually dictated the end result. Outside of "Parkerville" number 18 can do a variety of things on the floor and I think next year depending on the SF situation may play an even larger role in the offence. Over the course of the second half of the season I probably asked myself a thousand times why this guy wasn’t in the NBA. I have not even mentioned his defence which at times was simply spectacular. Looking back in Raps history there are few (maybe Doug Christie) who could play D like Parker. Parker exceeded expectations and as a result deserves an A- for the year.

Franchise: (A-) + (Mid-Term A-) = A-

Bang on with Howland again on this one. After Jose, this is the probably the player who did the best job in exceeding my expectations. I really thought Parker was going to be an off the bench Juan Dixon type scorer with a better defensive presence. I didn’t think he’s be Raja Bell part II and a player who in my mind comes as close to Shane Battier as anyone else in the league. In fact in retrospect it’s funny because last off-season Battier topped our readers’ wish list as a guy who could really help take this team to another level. Right now it looks like B.C. got a cheaper version. I’d still like to see a bit more consistent offence from Parker to match his consistent D, but I think that will occur next year as he takes on more of a scoring role in the offense.

MORRIS PETERSON:

Howland: (B-) + (Mid-Term B-) = B-

When you compare the second half of the season had by Mo Pete to that of Joey Graham you get somewhat of a mirror image. Even when Garbo went out with his injury Peterson still had a tough time coming off the bench and couldn’t find any consistency. When the playoffs came around Peterson elevated his game and was much better. Of course it was surprising that Peterson couldn’t really pull it together in the second half of the season. I think the shot against Washington at the buzzer sums up his season nicely. There were times when he would get little or no PT and then others when he would do some really nice (if not spectacular) things. On a whole however Mo Pete did not meet expectations. Considering it was a contract year no-one can be more disappointed than Mo Pete himself.

Franchise: (C-) + (Mid-Term C) = C-

As most of you know, Mo Pete’s my favourite Raptor and therefore I’m maybe harsher on him then some. But on a team in which nearly every player surpassed my expectations, Peterson definitely fell a good bit short. Yes he received sporadic playing time. But with the exception of games five and six of the playoffs, a miracle shot vs. the Wizards and a 23 point outburst March 23 against Denver, the Peterson of 05-06 was MIA. Personally I think he showed up to training camp out of shape and just couldn’t get back into the swing of things until playoff time because he wasn’t getting the "game time" minutes. In any event, he’s now two for two in terms of hurting his stock prior to a free agency period. Can the Raptors retain him? I think financially they can but I’m not so sure it makes sense. At his best (take games five and six of the playoffs) Peterson is a solid individual defender, a good three-point shooter and great glue guy. Sound familiar? Oh yes, Toronto already has someone like that - Anthony Parker. The only problem is that Parker is better and turned in a much more consistent year. I’d love to see Morris back in the fold as a seventh man but I think he’ll test the market and try to find a bigger role with another club. Toronto needs a slashing wing to share that 2/3 spot with Parker and Peterson unfortunately just isn’t the answer.

UROS SLOKAR:

Howland: (Inc.) + (Mid-Term Inc.) = Inc.

Although Slokar got some minutes later into the season it is hard to really give out a grade. Slowly he is becoming a fan favourite and I do think there is a spot for him on this team moving forward, maybe even as the back-up centre. On a whole he remains solid value and a decent asset considering where he was picked in the draft.

Franchise: (Inc.) + (Mid-Term Inc.) = Inc.

Slokar didn’t get much opportunity to showcase his skills but when he did, it was obvious that the kid is no stiff. He’s much more of a gritty interior player than I anticipated and while his contract is up at season’s end, I think B.C. and co. will see the value in keeping him around for a little while longer. A future back-up centre? I’m not sure about that but I could see him being a match-up problem at the 4 along when Bargnani’s at the 5 and maybe even a little bit of Bosh at the 3.

PAPE SOW:

Howland: (Inc.) + (Mid-Term Inc.) = Inc.

It may be the end of Pape’s time in Toronto. Pape got even less burn than Slokar and when he was out there did little to show any sort of improvement.

Franchise: (Inc.) + (Mid-Term Inc.) = Inc.

Ok, the agreement has to stop soon. I think Sow’s time with the Raptors may be over too and I’m not quite sure it should be. The NBA is filled with undersized, rugged, athletic players who took a while to learn the game (Ben Wallace, Reggie Evans etc.) and prior to his neck injury I really thought Sow was starting to come into his own. The problem is, like Howland said, he’s not getting even as much playing time as Uros Slokar and his one offensive move is still that spin to the basket off a post-up. Perhaps an off-season of pro leagues and post work will do him some good but it’s his defence and rebounding that he needs to use to stick right now in the league. I wish Spidey the best in any event and maybe we’ll see him get a training camp invite even if he doesn’t get asked to return via a new contract.

SAM MITCHELL AND HIS STAFF:

Howland: (A-) + (Mid-Term B+) = B+

Mitchell and his staff turned essentially what was a new roster with inexperienced NBA players into a division champion. That’s a fact. Mitchell and Co. also did a better job in particular situations and when you add it all up it meant being voted Coach of Year. The playoffs were evidence that Mitchell still has to learn about making adjustments but has there ever been a bigger swing in a coach’s fortunes over such a small period of time? From being on top of the trash heap to top of many teams’ lists of head coaching candidates, Mitchell performed admirably this season. In the second half he and his staff made other teams react and managed to never let this team get too high or too low.

Franchise: (B+) + (Mid-Term B+) = B+

Without factoring the playoffs into the equation I too would have given Mitchell and his staff an A- mainly for two reasons. The first is that this team almost always competed. I can remember two or three blowouts but this was the first season in years in which I saw Toronto win a number of close games that maybe they didn’t deserve to win based on early play, or in past seasons would have been unable to close out. (A comeback victory over the T-Wolves in Minnesota late in the season, a one point OT win over Seattle, an OT victory over Washington highlighted by Morris Peterson’s improbable 3-pointer and a December victory over the Clippers in which TJ Ford hit the winning jumper at the buzzer stick out in my mind.) Second, when this team did suffer a bad loss, or lost a couple in a row, the club would always bounce back. We even saw this against New Jersey where despite being thrashed in games three and four and outplayed for the majority of the series, Sam Mitchell still got every ounce of his club and almost forced a game seven back in Toronto.

However this grade does look at the post-season too and being that I felt the Raptors were out-coached, I can’t give an A grade. Mitchell is still a young coach learning the tricks of the trade but even an avid fan like myself saw that Sam’s starting line-up in game four featuring Bargnani at the 3, had disaster written all over it. However one bad playoff round does not a coach’s season make and overall I felt he and his assistants did a good job. Will Mitchell be back with Toronto next season? I would like to see him return but for now the ball is firmly in his court as to his decision.

BRYAN COLANGELO:

Howland: (A) + (Mid-Term B+) = A-

The second half of the season was an interesting one for Colangelo as he acknowledged his mistakes and made the best of them. Tucker to Jackson, Jones to Dixon. I question whether the man ever sleeps. Although neither of those moves were franchise altering, they were good moves. This off-season will be an interesting one as with Colangelo you learn to expect the unexpected. A great first season for the basketball genius.

Franchise: (A+) + (Mid-Term A) = A+

Ok, so the site of Paul Millsap reeking havoc for the Jazz in the playoffs still burns me up but beyond the drafting of PJ Tucker, there’s not much you can say that’s negative about the job Bryan Colangelo has done. I expected B.C. to come in this season and make some good choices for the future of the franchise, but I didn’t expect him to be a miracle worker! Hoffa for Kris Humphries is starting to look like water into wine and when it was obvious that Fred Jones wasn’t the player the Raptors thought he could be, (and from his stats in Portland it doesn’t look like he’s the player the Blazers thought he was either) B.C. promptly swapped him for Juan Dixon. Dixon was disappointing in the playoffs but had some great games to help Toronto capture the Atlantic Division crown and looks to be another solid player off the bench for Toronto. Even when PJ Tucker didn’t work out Colangelo combed the D League and grabbed Luke Jackson, a player who already looks to be a much better fit. Injuries to Charlie Villanueva in Milwaukee leave the verdict on the Ford/CV trade up in the air so perhaps in the end it will be revealed that the Lego Master is human. But for now I have nothing but praise for the NBA’s executive of the year and can’t wait to see what he does this coming off-season.

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