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Raptors 2008-09 Season Post Mortem – The Grades Part II

Even Kapono's defense of his 3-point title was unsuccessful this season...

Even Kapono's defense of his 3-point title was unsuccessful this season...

Shawn Marion – B

When he first arrived in Toronto, it was hard to know exactly what to make of Shawn Marion. On one hand, he was coming off an under whelming stint with the Miami Heat; one that had NBA followers believing his previous success was completely due to Steve Nash and the Phoenix system that he had played most of his career in. On another, it was clear to observers that Shawn just didn’t fit in a system like that of Miami where one player (Dwyane Wade) dominated the ball so much. The hope was that Toronto would fall somewhere in the middle of these two situations and the Matrix could revive his career. That was exactly the case of course and while we expected to see Marion help on the glass and change the pace that the team played at, we don’t think anyone expected him to have quite as profound an impact as he did – one that now has us thinking he’s a shoe-in to return next year if he can be had at the right price.

Jake Voskuhl – C

There’s not much to say here about Big Jake. He had some highs (first match against the Clippers where he almost took Zach Randolph’s head off) and some lows (numerous foul-filled affairs in limited minutes) but in the end was exactly what fans expected; a big guy off the pine who could provide some toughness and leadership and…well…that’s about it.

Jason Kapono - Grade F

Is there a guy who disappointed more this season than J Killa? In hindsight his performance against Orlando during last season's playoffs was an anomaly more than anything else. His solid performance against the Magic heightened expectation going into this season. Unfortunately, those heightened expectations were one's that Kapono couldn't meet. In a year of ups and downs Kapono had a season filled mostly with the latter. On numerous occasions during the season Kapono couldn't find his stroke and without his deft shooting, Kapono becomes a major liability on the floor. Kapono was exposed countless times on the defensive end and many people are thinking BC paid way too much for this one trick pony. It was a bad year for the California kid and hard to validate giving him anything but an F.

Chris Bosh – Grade C

Bosh was one of the toughest players to grade. From an expectations standpoint, if C equals an exact execution of what we predicted from CB4 going into his sixth season, than based on his fourth-straight season of essentially the same stats that grade would seem correct. Bosh’s numbers in fact were nearly a carbon-copy of his work from two seasons ago (22.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 0.6 steals, 2.5 assists in 05-06 versus 22.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.0 blocks, 0.9 steals, 2.5 assists this past year) and while we didn’t expect him to average 30 and 12 this year, his numbers could in fact be viewed as a bit of a disappointment overall – especially considering that for stretches of the season, CB4 did average much loftier totals. The question of course is if these totals came at the expense of defensive efficiencies or his teammates’ productivity, and some of Bosh’s best stats did in fact come during Toronto’s downward toilet spirals. That being said, there’s still no superior player on this club and at times CB4 carried this moribund group of role players – exactly what you expect from your supposed franchise center-piece. Therefore in our opinion Bosh warrants a C as at times his play exceeded expectations, but at others, you were definitely left wanting more.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu - Grade B

Pops was another hotly disputed name on our grading list. While Franchise felt he deserved an A solely based on what most expected from an afterthought 10-day contract player, Mensah-Bonsu’s play also tailed off towards the end of the season, tempering expectations. However make no mistake – no player has energized the Raptors as much as Pops has in such a short time period. Mensah-Bonsu has an infectious personality that people appreciate, and the athletic skills and toughness that this Dino-crew sorely needed. He'll definitely need to work on his decision-making this summer and he’s still quite raw as a player however, Pops looks like an integral part of Toronto’s bench next year provided he can be retained. His ability to change the energy and tempo of the game overshadows many of his current shortcomings and while we’re not sure why it took so long to bring a player of his ilk into the fold, we’re just glad it finally happened.

Jose Calderon – Grade D

When he was healthy his grade obviously was higher than this. However considering the expectations on him going into this season, not just from fans but from management, I think it’s hard not to give him anything but this mark. This D isn’t only for his defensive play and reluctance at times to attack in transition, but also for the decision to sacrifice his own health in the off-season while playing for his National Team, going into a year where there were nothing but question marks backing him up. We saw the results of this decision, one that I don’t expect to see repeated this summer.

Patrick O’Bryant – Grade C

Just like Voskuhl what you saw is pretty much what you got from the former first-round pick. Nabbed in the Will Solomon deal, O’Bryant basically showed fans that his game hadn’t taken much of a step forward since his days at Bradley, and while the upside was enough to warrant a minor contractual commitment next season, we’d be hard-pressed to see him sticking around the league after next season. Granted big men with his physical tools seem to get second and third chances (see Woods, Loren) and perhaps with an improvement in attitude, and some hard work over the summer, O’Bryant will land an "end of the bench" spot with the Raps going forward – probably at the expense of someone like Nathan Jawai.

Jay Triano – Grade B

Up until the final 15 games or so of the season this grade was slated to be a C. We felt that Triano did a reasonably good job with the club despite the record, and pretty much executed as expected. However it was in the last stretch that we really started to see just what Triano could do, especially at the offensive end where he had the Raps flying up and down the court and making use of a much more motion-based offense than his predecessor. (Something several players alluded to during exit interviews with the media.) Jay also did a great job limiting the minutes of inefficient players like Jason Kapono and getting his roster to play to its strengths. And really, considering the lack of talent still on this club, that’s all you can ask for. He also put many of Toronto’s key players (especially Andrea Bargnani) in a position where they could succeed and even managed to coax some life out of the likes of Joey Graham for a while. All in all, a fairly solid job given the circumstances and while that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t rather have Flip Saunders at the helm next year, the reality is that this is probably Jay’s team going forward; something that he’ll need to run with now that he’s got essentially a year of experience under his belt.

It's back to the basics for Colangelo and his staff...

It's back to the basics for Colangelo and his staff...

Bryan Colangelo – Grade D

Last and almost least, the Legomaster. This year Colangelo proved that he needs to get back to the Duplos as much of the golden sheen he bore coming into Toronto is now gone. Is there lead underneath? Well, this coming season may decide that. In any event, this past year was hardly another notch in his executive belt. The JO trade proved to be a failure on the court, the team’s need for a slashing wing wasn’t addressed, Hassan Adams, expected to be a defensive role-player, looked like he wouldn’t have been able to be a factor in the D League, we’re not even going to get into the Nathan Jawai selection, and his lack of attention to the back-up point guard spot would have gotten a GM of lesser stature canned. Yep, that might explain his hour-plus chat with us and the rest of the media on Monday – he had some ‘splainin’ to do. In fact the only thing that saved him from an F was ridding JO’s contract a year early via the Marion trade, and the acquisition of Pops. Even if Jose had been healthy all season, this looked like a mediocre team at best and as we’ve discussed, BC has his work cut out for him going forward.

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