Report cards are never an easy thing.
The first option is always to grade a player based on his value to the team, something that’s fairly high in terms of subjectivity, especially from a fan’s standpoint.
The next option is to look at the player’s value on a league-wide basis. Well, besides Jose and CB4, the rest of the squad would probably look like a collection of C’s and D’s, something all of us fans were made quite aware of over the last two months of the season.
So at the HQ, we decided to once again look at this team based on our expectations to start the season, probably what Bryan Colangelo is currently doing and what may decide the fate of many of the players over the next few months.
We tried the straight A, B, C system last year and it wasn’t as effective as we would have liked. The "met or did not meet" expectations system at half-time this year wasn’t any better.
So this time we’re looking at a mix of both; an A, B, C grading system based on whether or not players met the expectations Howland and I had to start the season. No pluses or minuses, we’re going to try and get right to the point and decide just how close each player came to hitting the target versus completely whiffing on things.
So here we go:
This is all about expectations and my expectations for Bargs this season were a lot higher. I didn’t expect him to morph into Dirk Nowitzki overnight, no, I thought the big jump would come next season. However I expected him to take some more steps towards rounding out his game and that was hardly the case. In fact, Bargnani regressed in nearly every way imaginable, especially offensively, and it was only through his improved man-to-man defence that I saved him from the dreaded F.
If we are doing things based on expectations he fails, plain and simple. Am I writing him off? Hell no. Was I ultimately disappointed? Yes. After the New Jersey playoff series I had visions of big things. I saw him and Bosh playing off each other and seeing the foundations of a soon to be great team. Hell I even had him as a keeper in my fantasy league! Now I can’t help but think if he doesn’t pan out he has set the franchise back four or five years. As a number one pick he needs to be a franchise changing player. He looked nothing like one this season.
I actually expected Baston to provide Toronto with some solid rebounding, defense and shot blocking this year. Boy was I wrong.
Pretty much a useless signing as he didn’t contribute at all. Here’s the difference between Toronto and the elite teams in the league - the Pistons go out and sign Theo Ratliff off waivers while the Raps sign Baston. Enough said.
Bosh gets an A from me once again. His health wasn’t superb, and his rebounding numbers slipped a tad, but he’s one of the lone players on this club that met my expectations this year. He carried the team on numerous occasions but it’s obvious that the man needs some help. Paging Bryan Colangelo…
If there was a letter higher than "A" I would give it to him. He became the leader I thought he could be and he stepped up in the playoffs. He is ready for the big time, he just needs help. I’ve written this before, if this team doesn’t make some big moves we would have the next KG scenario. The best years for this guy start next season. Let’s hope they don’t go to waste.
Just kidding…the A would be for his entertainment value. However in limited minutes with limited games remaining in the season he gets an INC from me.
He came in and did exactly what I thought he would do – which was nothing. Primoz won’t be around next season. I frankly could care less. The more and more playoff ball I watch the more I realize we need better players at the top of the bench, not the bottom.
One of the few players on the Raps who exceeded expectations for me this year. It’s hard to say what would have happened had TJ Ford not been injured, but regardless the team looks more and more like Jose’s to run by the day. I’d like to see Jose’s on-the-ball defense improve next year, but considering how woeful a shooter he was just two years ago, and how serious run at the Eastern All-Star team, it’s easy to say that that this was Toronto’s most improved player, and therefore more than worthy of an A grade.
I don’t think there is a more popular player in Raptorland than Calderon and rightfully so. What Jose did during the stretch that Ford was out may have been my season highlight. He is a starting guard and I wasn’t him starting next year. He is a role model and a damn good player. He is all about the team, winning and improving his game. If he works on some foot speed and agility over the summer to improve his defense then he looks to be the complete PG. Expectations definitely surpassed.
Delfino was probably the most hot/cold Raptor of the bunch this year. At times maddeningly inconsistent, nevertheless Delfino at times at least gave this club some semblance of a "slashing attack." Considering his limited bench role in Detroit, Carlos showed that he had more to offer than he was allowed to put on display in the Motor City. The question is, will Bryan Colangelo allow him a chance next year to show even more?
I didn’t expect much from Carlos when he was acquired and although he had some solid games he also tended to disappear. I for one will be very surprised to see him return based on the cap situation and the improvement that this club needs. Above I compared Baston to Ratliff to show the difference between the Raps (average) and the Pistons (elite) and here’s another great example as to how far the Raps are from taking that next step. With the Pistons Delfino couldn’t get regular minutes while with the Raps he is a key piece off the bench. This is a problem.
On attitude, the starting point guard situation and shot selection maybe TJ gets an F. But he wasn’t all bad this season. Forget the time after his injury in fact and you might have seen a B grade as he started off the NBA year so strong. Who knows what TJ’s future in Toronto holds (if there is one at all) but it’s obvious that there will be some high expectations come next season from both the fans and management.
TJ was what I thought he would be this year and he met my expectations. He was inconsistent and made questionable decisions (pre and post injury). He showed great flashes at times and at others it was clear why the Bucks were willing to trade him. It’s not so much his play as it is his attitude that makes me feel like moving him is the best thing to do for this team. I look around the league and think that Portland, Miami, Indiana and the Clippers may be interested.
The injury to Garbajosa was probably a much bigger impact on Toronto this year than most of us realize. And whether Garbs can return to form next season is anyone’s guess. But he didn’t start off the season so well and at his age, the type of injury he suffered could mean we never get to see the 06-07 version of Jorge again. He gets an INC for this year, and let’s hope not again for next.
I jest. He met my expectations in that he didn’t play. People seem to forget about Garbo and I believe undervalue what he brought to this team. Garbo’s hard-nosed mentality was seriously missed this year. Now if only BC could find a player with similar mental characteristics but who was twice as athletic.
Yes, I’m giving Joey Graham a B. Why? Because he met my expectations pretty near bang on. He rarely played, looked spotty at best when given minutes, and may essentially be this team’s 10th man for the next few seasons. That’s pretty much the outlook I’ve had for him the past two years so no big surprises from Joey G. I did think in his third year that he might at least fight through to an occasional eighth man role, but in the end he played in only 38 games and averaged less than nine minutes a game. Is it still too late to draft Danny Granger?
Speaking of Danny Granger, the drafting of Joey Graham is another reason why the Raps are not as far along as they could be. Missing on first round picks (let alone medium to high draft picks) is detrimental to any team. The Spurs, Lakers, Hornets, Jazz and Pistons (save for Darko) have all drafted well over the years and have avoided their version of Joey Graham. I hoped the glut of 2’s and 3’s on this team would push Joey to step up but I would say his window of opportunity has closed.
Humphries is a tough guy to grade, maybe the toughest on the team. At times he was worth of an A, a pleasant surprise off the bench with his hustle, interior scoring and rebounding. At others, he was worth of a D being a non-factor in games and sometimes a hindrance to the Raptors offence. And on top of this, he didn’t get a lot of playing time to try and prove his worth. Therefore in the end, he goes somewhere in the middle for me. He’s a nice guy to have coming off the bench as an eighth or ninth man, but I did expect him to play more of a role for the Raptors this season.
Hump was a disappointment to me. Sure his floor time was sporadic but I figured we would have seen some Jason Maxiell things from him. Hump clearly had an up and down year and I didn’t see much improvement from last year. He is still a little too shot happy and is guilty of trying to make the highlight play rather than the smart play. I like the effort but sometimes it is a little misguided. He is locked-up for another couple of years so hopefully he doesn’t plateau because the contract situation is no longer a motivating force.
For the record I was worried about this signing from day one. I worried about having another shooter, especially one who couldn’t defend, but even I didn’t expect the complete no-show that was Kapono right up until the playoffs. There we finally saw the player we thought Toronto had signed in the off-season, a veritable gun-slinger with accuracy from almost anywhere on the court. So the question is, how do we get that same player to come out blazing to start next year? I still believe a lot of Kapono’s issues this year had to do with Sam Mitchell and the team’s use of the former Bruin, but in any event, this was a player who did not meet the expectations I had for him when he was signed. And those indeed were quite low.
Man oh man. I for one actually thought Kapono was going to be a huge part of the Raps success this season in particular after BC went on the rant about how if there are more shots going in there are less rebounds to be had. Like Franchise I look at the poor season and feel Mitchell had a lot to do with his limited production. Remember last season when the Raps would always go to Mo P on the curl to start every game? We need more of those plays for Kapono. He can be a really valuable asset to this team. He just wasn’t this season.
Met my expectations in that he did nothing. He actually did so little that he was waived for a guy who couldn’t even earn a second 10-day contract and who we didn’t even include with these grades.
Moon hands down was Toronto’s top player in terms of surpassing expectations this year for me. We know his story and background, but besides his amazing jump to the league, how about starting at the 3 for the majority of the season? Moon, a player many columnists expected to be riding the pine all year ala Luke Jackson, became a very important piece of the Raptors. Whether this is an indication of Toronto’s lack of talent is up for discussion of course but the fact remains that Moon was one of the few happy endings for the Raptors this year.
If anyone was hard on this guy over the season it was me but I completely agree that he blew the expectations away. It could have been a worse season if Moon hadn’t come out to play. I just see that athleticism and want more. Maybe I can’t be satisfied. Nevertheless Moon was a huge plus for this team but again I can’t help but wonder where this team is when a minor league guy becomes a key piece to your team overnight…
If Jose Calderon was one of the Raptors’ biggest surprises this year, Rasho wasn’t far behind. Here we had a player that all of last season was viewed as dead weight, essentially a future expiring contract. Then we hear all this news about him looking great in international competition over the summer. However we don’t get to see the fruits of his off-season labour really until late in the season when it was basically too little, too late for the Raps. Rasho upped his trade value by miles this year, surpassed any expectations I may have had, and looks to be an important piece of for Toronto in the future; be it in a Raptors uniform, or for another team as Toronto looks to shore up various other positions on the court.
Rasho was Rasho. He was solid, yet not spectacular, a total pro and a great contributor at times during the season. He is another strong character guy who brings his lunch bucket to work every day. He is a vet and he did what was expected. Don’t look to BC to move this guy until the Raps solidify the front-line because without Rasho this Raps team is paper thin up front.
Parker once again started off slow this year and turned it on around in the middle of the season. However as opposed to last year, Parker couldn’t sustain his level of play throughout the playoffs and looked a step slow defensively compared to last year. I expected more from Parker, especially in the season’s early moments, and while he’s still a very important part of the team, next year is going to be a crucial one for him in terms of his NBA career.
The guy is totally under the radar. In some games he never gets the kind of props he deserves while in others he manages to deflect the criticism. Parker this season just didn’t take his game to the next level. He has the ability to be a strong offensive player but we only saw it in flashes. I wanted to see AP really grab the reins this past season and become a true threat for defenses to cue in on. It didn’t happen.
And now we come to the coaching staff. Mitchell for a while was looking at an F from me. But maybe I was drinking too much Raptor-Aid. Mitchell’s decisions were suspect at times, and his handling of the Andrea Bargnani situation obviously didn’t sit well with BC, but as we saw in the playoffs, he still doesn’t have enough talent to get things done. Does that excuse everything I saw this year? No. But it does mean that considering his contract, and what little he had to work with at times, Mitchell will be back next season for one more kick at the can, as disappointing as this year was.
Here’s what I wrote last season – "In fact as time passes I can’t help but feel that much of last year was not a result of poor coaching but poor players." I don’t think that has changed. When I see guys like Doc Rivers up for coach of the year it’s clear that coaching comes second to great players. I don’t think Sam is as bad as everyone makes him out to be but I also don’t think he is a "great" coach. He is somewhere in the middle. I do know the players still respond to him which is a big positive. He just needs a true x’s and o’s assistant coach.
Somewhere right now Rob Babcock is smiling. Colangelo’s top pick Andrea Bargnani regressed. TJ Ford and Jorge Garbajosa were major distractions at points during the season to the point where Ford may be looking for a new zip…um…postal code. Anthony Parker didn’t have the sophomore season some expected for Toronto. And we won’t even get into the whole Primoz, Darrick Martin, Maceo Baston stuff. I think it’s clear now after this season that BC still has a lot of work to do. And if it were almost any other GM, I’d be concerned. But like Yoda, Colangelo has always preached patience and I think with a little wheeling and dealing this off-season, he’ll have things back on track.
My how the seasons have changed. Some of the moves have been suspect and that’s ok. When Colangelo was in the Valley of the Suns he also made some suspect moves. The problem I have is that I think he is a little meddlesome with Mitchell and the players in terms of when and how certain guys need to be played. I look to Colangelo to make some moves this summer to turn some of this "depth" into more "talent". It should be a fun summer to say the least.