This year, we’re giving out our grades but at the halfway point of the season giving us a bigger period of time to judge on. In addition, instead of giving A’s and B’s, which some readers correctly pointed out as being a bit too subjective, we’re going with the "continuing education version" – pass or fail.
A player is going to be given a passing grade if they’ve met or exceeded expectations and a fail if not. We’ll also get into what we feel the player needs to do to get the passing grade at year’s end.
So without any more chatter – let’s get to the grades.
Andrea Bargnani: Fail
No surprise here, Bargs has been #1 on the list of biggest disappointments for the Raptors this season. His scoring touch isn’t there, his defence has been non-existent and he even looks to be worse in the rebounding department than last season. For him to get a passing grade it’s going to take A LOT of work in the remaining 41 games including some dominant offensive performances. No one here at the HQ is ready to give up on the young prospect, but we are wondering just how long this is going to go on before Mitchell and co. made some decisions about continuing to start Andrea. The Raptors are looking at no-win situation in many respects as if the team decides not to play Bargs it could be a lost season for their number-one pick. And if they continue to play him at the expense of the team getting wins, that’s not going to be pretty either.
Maceo Baston: Fail
If Bargnani is the biggest disappointment, Baston has to be a close second. Some have argued that you can’t grade him because he hasn’t played but I ask you this; if he was outplaying his counterparts in practice, wouldn’t he be playing? He’s barely even dressed this season let alone played, which tells me we’re paying almost $2 Million a year for a player that isn’t even winning the scrimmages in practice. And when he has played in limited minutes, he hasn’t exactly given the team the rebounding and shot blocking we thought he’d provide after his off-season acquisition. Put it this way, his salary could easily be paid to us here at the HQ and the Raptors wouldn’t miss a beat. Not to mention how sick the website would be then!
There’s not much negative you can say about Rasho. He’s played better this year than last, accepted his role in the "start Bargnani at all costs" experiment, and comes in and gives this club solid leadership and rebounding whenever called upon. In our books however he’s not being called on enough and unless Andrea suddenly returns to last year’s form, we may see a lot more Rasho in the second part of the season.
Anthony Parker: Pass
Next year if AP isn’t playing that well by December and I’m discussing this in blog postings, someone tell me to simmer down. For the second year in a row we’ve seen Parker start slow only to become a key third, and sometimes second, option in Toronto’s offense. I’d still love it if he went to the rim a bit more but there’s not much you can pick on with the way Parker has played, especially in the past few weeks. He really is the glue-guy for this team.
Sam Mitchell: Pass
There was a time when Sam Mitchell was tops on everyone’s list of "which coach in the NBA gets fired next." Now, he’s the reigning Coach of the Year and has done another solid job this season. He still has a long way to go in the PR department and at times still makes some bizarre substitutions from our vantage point, but each year this team has improved defensively and rarely takes a night off; a true credit to their coach and leader. Our biggest concern going into the second half of the season is that Mitchell doesn’t always seem to put players in a position to succeed. (See Graham, Kapono and to a lesser degree, Bargs.) If the Raptors want to take the next step we believe this will be very important.
Bryan Colangelo: Pass
Now we get to the architect of all of this. Colangelo actually had to work to get a passing grade this time around as the jury is still out on the Kapono and Martin signings, and Maceo Baston is looking like this year’s Fred Jones. But his acquisition of Carlos Delfino, the development of Kris Humphries and the outright diamond mining of Jamario Moon gives the Legomaster a passing mark. On top of this, there’s not a fan in Raptornation that doesn’t believe he won’t correct any of the mistakes he may have originally made – a true luxury compared to many of the other GM situations around the NBA.
Happy Martin Luther King day and mid-season from all of us at the HQ.