As we have been known to do here at Raptors HQ, we have once again enlisted the help of a fellow blogger to preview one of the Raptors remaining matchups.
This week we exchanged emails will fellow Toronto-based Internet writer James Herbert. James is a fantastic feature writer now at SBNation.com, but has also written for Hardwood Paroxysm. He produces the popular video podcast Hoopseak Live and is an all around good fellow. He was kind enough to answer some question I had for him about the Raptors, Bobcats and the NBA:
RHQ: All right, so Raptors Bobcats: please give the readers something to look for in this game that might make them more inclined to actually watch it.
JH: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist! If you haven't watched the Bobcats much because the Bobcats have been terrible, then you've been missing out on lots of lopsided losses. You've also been missing out on Kidd-Gilchrist, who is kind of like a less developed small forward version of Joakim Noah. He's hit the rookie wall harder than some other guys but that's probably because of just how damn hard he plays. He's relentless, he changes ends super quickly and he will dunk on you. Just ask Greg Monroe. Reasons to watch on the Raptors' side? Well, this one is winnable and the rooks are playing now, so that's fun.
RHQ: Kemba Walker is a player that appears to have taken a step forward this season. Having written about him a few times already in his short career I feel like you are qualified to answer this question: has he really made a jump this season or are the statistics a little misleading? what kind of point guard do you seeing him becoming two or three years down the road?
JH: He's definitely taken a step forward. Last year D.J. Augustin was still around and starting most of the time and Paul Silas was trying to make him more of a distributor. Also he was a rookie going through all the normal rookie things without the benefit of summer league, training camp and practice time. This year Walker is the leader of the team, he's playing with much more confidence and he's playing smarter. If you look at the stats you basically see that he's shot the ball better, but he's also much more comfortable. The kind of point guard I see him becoming depends largely on what Charlotte adds to the roster. Playing on losing teams -- especially teams that lose this often by this much -- can stunt development. Ideally Walker gets some better scoring options around him and learns how to balance getting them their shots and going for his own offense and wins some games in the process. He reminds me of a young Tony Parker but it's up to him and the team as to what kind of player he is two to three years down the line.
RHQ: On a Raptors related note, I would be interested in reading what you think of Terrence Ross. I have been a fan of his all season but, for a few reasons, he has fallen out of favour with Dwane Casey unless the game enters garbage time or somebody is injured.
JH: I'm a huge fan of Ross' potential. Threes, defense, athleticism -- this is what you want in a starting wing player. You want to see him drawing fouls and being more consistent and cutting down on mistakes but I think everyone needs to be patient with him. He needs to get stronger and more confident and I think that will come with time.
I probably sound just like Casey right now. I do wish his minutes were steadier throughout the year, though.
RHQ: On a scale of 1-10 how much do you miss Quincy Acy and why?
JH: I'll say a 6. I miss him yelling on the bench and being an awesome teammate but getting minutes is important and that wasn't happening in Toronto. Hoping the death of the playoff dream and Bargnani missing the rest of the year means he'll be back soon and getting at least a little bit of NBA playing time. If there's no chance for that, then let's have the beard ball in Bakersfield. (Now I have a question for you, Scott: How would you rank the five NBA Quincys? They are, of course, in alphabetical order: Acy, Douby, Lewis, Miller and Pondexter.)
RHQ: I'll bite: Pondexter, Miller, Acy, Douby, Lewis
RHQ: Who wins in a footrace: DeSagana Diop or Aaron Gray?
JH: I'm going with Gray. He always stays ready. Sorry Jop.
RHQ: Last question: This has nothing to do with the Raptors or Bobcats -- or it probably doesn't anyway -- but I think your response will be something fun. What has been your favourite part of this NBA season?
JH: I'm going to take this to mean "favorite moment". That would be when Kyrie Irving hit a 30-foot buzzer-beater and I was there to see it. It was beautiful.
Wait ... this is a Raptors site. Whooooops.