In the first update we talked about Bosh and the possible upgrades to his game after playing all summer with Team USA at the FIBA World Championships. What has become fairly clear at this point is that gauging this improvement will be difficult to do until the 06-07 regular season starts. Why you ask? Well for starters, he's just not getting the minutes.
For Raptors fans watching the championships it is really too bad. That being said, this could be the best scenario for the Raps and for any hopes the franchise has for building on its measly win total of last year. Why? The simple reality that the less he plays, the less chance of him getting hurt. He still will have experienced the World Championships and will have worked out with and trained with some of the best the NBA has to offer. All positives. In fact, after thinking even more about Bosh's time in Japan and the benefits and drawbacks, perhaps the one area where there may be the biggest difference is in the leadership department. This is perhaps even more valuable then a small bump in the rebounding numbers.
Bryan Colangelo has torn the 05-06 team apart and we all know there will be a ton of new faces, but the reality is that the face of the franchise has not changed, and that's CB4. Now after signing his extension, there will be even more pressure on Bosh to bring this team to the next level. One of the best ways of doing that is by leading. Once this summer wraps up I have no doubt that Bosh will be a better leader and the reason is simple - in arguably the first time is his career, Bosh is surrounded by players that have experienced winning and KNOW what it takes to win. He's also surrounded by various players like Antawn Jamison, Brad Miller, and Elton Brand, who have been through the tough times of losing in the NBA but have now experienced winning. Playing with these players should prove to be huge motivation for Bosh as not only have these players now found themselves in winning situations, but can speak about what it takes to get from a losing to a winning situation. Bosh needs to draw from their experiences and bring these lessons to Toronto's training camp this fall.
In fact it is a testament to Bosh that he has become as good as he has in such a small time period considering the examples he has had to learn from. Vince Carter was not exactly a true professional when in Toronto and neither was AD. Sure Jalen acted like a pro and so did D-Marsh while here, but neither had done any serious winning. Other vets Bosh could rely on for advice? Eric Williams...Aaron Williams...ugh.
Now here's an update on the other Raptors in the land of the rising sun:
Jose Calderon: Right on cue after suggesting Jose needed to be locked in a gym, he has one of the best performances of the tournament in Spain's match-up against Germany. Against Dirk and his compatriots Jose went 8/9 from the floor, put up 20 points and dominated the German guards. Although his assists for the game were low, when you are that hot, who needs to pass? (This statement stinks of Mike James' mentality, but you get the point.) In Spain's other game against Panama, an absolute blow-out for the Spaniards, Calderon played only 15 minutes and put up 5 points, 5 boards and 2 assists.
Jorge Garbajosa: Calderon's team-mate has been steady and solid so far in the tournament. Against Panama the garbage man put up 10 points and grabbed 5 boards while dishing out 2 assists. In the game he jacked 5 threes, hitting 1. Against the team from Germany he was much more efficient from three point land going 4/5 and he grabbed 7 boards. A few things stand out with Garba after the first few games. The first is the number of 3's he takes. The second is his solid job on the glass. The latter is a great sign for the Raps. The former? It will be interesting to see how his game shapes up when the three point line is further out.
Uros Slokar: If you are a reader of our Euro updates throughout the year then the following report will not be surprising and may be somewhat frustrating - Uros Slokar continues to produce in limited minutes. In Slovenia's game against Italy, Slokar played 14 minutes and was perfect from the floor (2/2,) had 3 boards, 2 assists and a block. If you watched the game against the USA Slokar did not do a great deal but did grab 5 boards. He could be a surprise for the Raps this year and if the result is good production in limited minutes (something he has done since we started covering him) then Mitchell will find him time here and there. However all of us here at the HQ would still love to see what he can do with more playing time.
Rasho Nesterovic: First off, all those who knew Rasho's full name is Rasho Nesterovic Makris raise your hand. That's what I thought. Rasho has looked pretty good as of late, and although he will never be mistaken for someone "agile," he has looked reasonably quick on his feet, has made some nice moves towards the basket and has been a solid contributor to his club. In the past two match-ups Rasho has 31 points, 15 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Rasho also has three attempts from beyond the arc. Frankly, Rasho has played very well which should give Raps fans comfort that their highest paid played will contribute.