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Mailbag: RapsHQ Responds

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One thing we have discussed amongst ourselves for quite some time, is how great our readers' comments are. The thought put into them and the points made are always something we look forward to reading...and responding to. A bit later into the draft preparation we'll be getting into our reader's "playing GM" submissions but for now it's time to respond to some of our other comments...

cormac Says (CV Smooth - A Quick Thought On A Truly Successful Rookie Season)

Gay would look great in a Raptors uniform. I think sometimes people confuse unselfish play with a lack of desire or intensity. Calhoun teaches his players to play team basketball, rather than rack of Kobe-like stats. UConn has so many great players, that sharing the ball is often the best option… even if you’re one of the top players in the country. I think that’s why guys like Villanueva and Gay (and even Boone) appear to underachieve at UConn.

Franchise: Very solid observation...let's discuss.

Each year certain players seem to come out of nowhere in the draft in terms of where they are picked and perform even better in the NBA than they did in college. Charlie Villanueva was a perfect example of that last year. Cormac I think your point about Rudy Gay and UConn is extremely valid, that UConn team Gay was part of would give some NBA teams a run for its money. I mean, the team was so deep that arguably it's 10th man Nelson is going to be an NFL TIGHT END! Which other Divison I squads have that sort of luxury?

We've seen great success from UConn players in the NBA, maybe even more so than any other program. Sure North Carolina has produced it's Michael Jordan's and Vince Carter's...but it's also produced Ed Cota's, Joe Forte's and some other less than stellar players NBA-wise. Besides Khalid El-Amin, who scouts knew damn well wasn't NBA material, can you name any other UConn players that have come out and flopped in the league in the past 10 years? Jim Calhoun and co. simply do a great job of preparing players and getting the most of their talent, even if they don't actually get to show it every game in college. Therefore I agree, you didn't always see Gay taking over games for UConn but I think SOME of this is simply due to UConn's depth and style of play. I think a coach like Sam Mitchell, who definitely got the most out of Villanueva, would be great for someone like Gay as well. I'd have no qualms about Gay being selected by the Raps if we draft right around the five spot, especially if he's excelling in workouts against similar players such as Rodney Carney and Brandon Roy.

That being said, Gay might not even be considered regardless of WHERE we draft. According to Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune, Bargnani is our man.

Duke (Wanted: One Defensive Stopper) says:

Can someone tell me why Patrick O’Bryant’s name does not come up in discussions about the Raptors. He was an absolute defensive force in the 5 spot. He is a legit 7 footer who already ways 260. An excellent shot blocker and rebounder who can easily put on another 20lbs. Yes all reports say he is a project offensively but who cares the Raptors need to fill the middle and take care of the glass. With a 9′ 5 standing reach (not a misprint) I won’t have to watch that midget Boykins shredding the Raptors up the middle.

Howland: Duke with a strong point...unlike their performance in the NCAA Tourney. Why has there been so little talk of O'Bryant in a Raps uni? If you have read the reports on Draftexpress, when Jonathan Givony attended one of O'Bryant's workout he gave a rave review. Trust us, when we interview Givony after the lottery we will be sure to ask him a question or two about O'Bryant.

It's actually strange that O'Bryant's name is not bandied about more. It may however, be a reflection of that fact that he will likely be the fourth big man taken behind Thomas, Aldridge and Bargnani. The other major drawback with O'Bryant is his lack of offensive skill. That being said, he could be a solid player. One thing you are bang on about is the fact that O'Bryant can still put on some serious muscle, and still be a fairly agile and quick big man. In that light one cannot help but think about a front court of CV Smooth, CB4 and O'Bryant. Funny enough, if you think back to last year one of the guys that got very little attention from the Toronto media, and few experts had projected to go to the Raps, was Villaneuva. That seems to have worked out thus far.

Of course before we hype O'Bryant too much, there are some serious concerns. The first and foremost is that he went to Bradley. The MVC is not exactly a basketball powerhouse. In fact, I am sure if you asked Clipper fans they would say "buyer beware" as one of the last seven footers from a small school whose draft stock exploded prior to the draft was Michael Olowakandi. Sure in our GM blueprint we suggest throwing a couple of million at the guy, but unless we do trade down, O'Bryant could be a bit of a reach if the Raps are picking in the top 5.

Of course O'Bryant's stock could go either way in the next few weeks. With this new emphasis on "smallball" it is possible that his stock slips a little. Of course GM's are fascinated with size and athletic big men. This is what makes the workouts so key for these players. Their value fluctuates day to day and O'Bryant is going to be a prime example of this. One workout I would love to attend? O'Bryant v. Aldridge.

Franchise: I'm going to add a few things here...first off, Howland - ouch on the Duke diss, wait till you see Gerald Henderson next year. Secondly, I'm REALLY hoping that one of my workout breakdowns in the next few weeks includes a matchup between the likes of O'Bryant, Aldridge, Thomas and even someone like Shelden Williams or Hilton Armstrong.

Matt Says ('Thursday’s Workouts - Marcus Williams Takes Center Stage)

I always compared Marcus to Jason Kidd, a former Colangelo draft pick. they have similar size and physical skills, both a great floor generals and can make any pass on the court, both are below average shooters but can score, and both a great rebounding PG. His addition to the ball club would make the Raps instant competitors, especially if they can sing a big like Nene in free agency. I mean could you imagine a line-up of:
PG: Williams
SG: Mo P
SF: CV31
PF: Bosh
C: Nene
all five starters would be able to rebound, and as Sam Mitchel said, just get me guys who can rebound.

Franchise: Great comparison Matt. I'm not sure Williams has quite the court-vision that Kidd possesses but you're bang on about him being a great rebounder, something I didn't really touch on when going through his strengths and this is another reason why picking him makes a lot of sense. I'm starting to think that taking him at the five (if we end up picking there) isn't such a reach, especially since his shooting seems to have improved as well.

Scott C says (Playing GM: Version 1.0):

With that in mind, my thoughts are that the Raps have three needs: interior defense, a pass-first PG who can hit from outside and perimeter defense. Veteran leadership is a also needed, which implies trading the 5th pick. On that note:

2) If that trade isn’t there, Joel Pryzbilla as a free agent signing is the next best solution. Nazr Mohammad is next best after that.

Dave says (via email to raptorshq@hotmail.com):

The one free agent I make a run at is Joel Pryzbilla. He is a defensive minded, shot-blocking, rebounding big man that would fit perfectly into the Raps system. Give him 8-10 million for 4-5 years… standard stuff for a big man.

Howland: Well myself and Franchise in particular have had some heated debates in the past on a number of issues surrounding the Raps, and other players in the L. Joel Przybilla is a perfect example. I am adamently opposed to bringing this guy in. Call it the Bryant Reeves complex, or whatever you want, but there is NO WAY we should sign this guy. I am not sure why this is viewed as a good idea. If the plan is to put a very athletic team on the floor then the LAST guy we need is Ghost Face Przybilla. I can't help but think that people saw him play well last year out of no-where and put up some solid FANTASY stats and consequently now view him as some sort of savior. Here's the top 3 reasons why Joel is a bad idea for this team:

1. Limited Upside, Large $$'s.
2. He was the 26th ranked CENTRE in PPG, 17th in RPG, and 20th in efficiency (all according to NBA.com)
3. Only played 56 games.

His stats do no warrant consideration for the dollars he is going to be asking for. His production per dollar will be abysmal. In fact his career high in points is 6.4 and 8.4 in rebounds and the latter was over 12 games. If we can bring him is for $3M per than I will say nothing, but to actually go out and woo this guy and have him sign a large contract is spending those precious free-agent dollars simply to spend them. This guy has cap killer written all over him.

Narz makes a little more sense as he is more agile and has played on a winning team for the past few seasons, but again, if we are going to spend dollars on the centre spot there has to be some potential for a high return. I am not sure Mohammad has much upside at this point in his career and he has expressed a desire to stay somewhere warm. It's 8 degrees outside while I write this and it is the 21st of May. 'Nuff said.

All of a sudden the O'Bryant idea is gaining momentum in my head.....

kenno Says (Wanted: One Perimeter Defensive Stopper)

i still think that we should give joey graham a second chance. All rookies are going to make mistake the first year, so lets see if graham has steped up to the challange

Killa B Says (Wanted: One Perimeter Defensive Stopper)

I was watching an NBA Classic game this weekend. 2002 Paces v. Nets. This was Richard Jefferson’s second year in the L and his game looked so much like Joey G’s. He was cautious, his drives to the hoop were telegraphed ect… This actually gave me a lot of hope for the future. The two seem to have similar dispositions and I could see them developing in the same way. Plus I think R. Jeff was a mid 1st round pick.

Franchise: Woah...and the hits keep coming like Albert Pujols. Some great points here. I've been tough on Joey G this past season. I guess I was just really expecting him to be more of an impact player, even more so than Villanueva after the draft. No, I didn't expect him to score even 10 points a game, but I thought his athletic ability and the defensive prowness he showed in college would really translate to the NBA and help the Raptors immediately. I was wrong, and I guess impatience may have been a factor in my disappointment.

But as Joey got more minutes and as the season progressed, you could see another Joey starting to emerge and I really agree on the Jefferson comparison. Many people may not remember this but Jefferson actually played a lot of power forward for Arizona in various Lute Olson sets. His size and explosiveness and back to the basket game created many mismatches and he too, took a full season to aclimatize into the small forward/shooting guard role. In fact, Jefferson's first year numbers looked like this:

In 24 minutes he averaged 9.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and shot 46 per cent from the field and 23 per cent from beyond the arc.

Joey's numbers? In slightly less than 20 minutes a game he averaged 6.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, .8 assists, shot 48 per cent from the field and 33 per cent from beyond the arc.

Hmmmmmm....

The points are a little lower and so are the assists but Joey probably never will have the court vision of Jefferson and played fewer minutes. Otherwise the numbers are quite comparable. Here's to hoping Joey takes the next step this offseason and into next year, especially on the defensive end. That certainly would make one less hole for Colangelo to fill.

Hen says (Playing GM: Version 1.0)

Remember that Magloire will be 28. That’s at least 4-5 years of solid production from him. In contrast, Nene will be 24 and in the last two years has played a total of 56 games. This is the guy we want and we should think of adding cap-relief for the Bucks like Eric Williams, or even some of our youth like Joey Graham.

Howland: I think every Raptors fan at one time or another has pined for Magloire, and yes the Bucks want to move him. There are some definite upsides to this, even outside the home-grown factor. Magloire is a really solid rebounder and is more athletic than many of the available big men. I do however question giving up that pick (depending on what it is) for him. Sure we suggested using it to get Maggette, but we would then spend dollars on Nene. If you trade for Jamaal, where do you spend your money? Even if you like our idea and sign Banks, you still have a great deal of room under the cap and not much talent to spend it on.

The other major concern with Magloire is that even if you do trade for him, there is nothing to say that after next year he walks away as a FA meaning you have given up Gay/Roy/Bargnani etc. for nothing in return. Trading high picks for guys with expiring contracts is RISKY business and not something I would approve of. Worst comes to worse, Colangelo could always try and use a stop-gap solution at the 5 for next season and then chase Magloire with FA dollars next off-season. If there has even been an off-season to be a little frugal with free-agent money it is this year.

Robert Archibald Says (Well, Here We Are One Year Later…)

Keep up the good work, I’ve been living outside Canada for years now and i check here regularly to get my Raptor fix.

Franchise: This comment deserves a shout out simply for the tag name...how funny is it going to be to look back in another five years at the "Banger Brothers" solution the Raps once had of Archibald and Lonny Baxter? I mean, it's funny even now!