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Top Priorities - Leadership

The deficit of losing Anthony Parker was something that couldn't really be measured, but it's been a scary trend when it comes to the Raptors.  Since their 2006-2007 team, the Raptors have been leaking one asset they once had an abundance of.  Vicious D talks about leadership and how its absence has affected this team.

For all of his time here, we've heard about how much of an influence Anthony Parker has been in the locker room.  It's not surprising that the Raptors were looking for answers and turned to leadership.  After all, leadership has been one of the areas where I thought the Raptors would be hard-pressed to make up.  For all of Chris Bosh's talent and his ability, he just didn't quite have that leadership role down pat.  I know that he would argue otherwise, but powerful leaders give you a feeling that they're taking control.  It's a point that I had asked people like Jose Calderon about earlier in the year, but it seemed to be something of little concern.  And yes, I did use Anthony Parker as a prime example of a leader that they would have to look to replace.

It's really too bad that it wasn't until after the season was over that anyone acknowledged that deficit.

And while Bryan Colangelo did great in his first year to acquire and supplement the leadership the Raptors already had in place, they've been leaking leadership like a rusted out '94 Corolla leaks out coolant ever since.

Put it in this way, the Raptors have gained and lost the following "leaders" during the Colangelo years:
Arrived in 2006: Jorge Garbajosa, Anthony Parker, TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Darrick Martin
Left in 2007: Jorge Garbajosa, Morris Peterson
Arrived in 2007: None
Left in 2008: TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Darrick Martin
Arrived in 2008: Jermaine O'Neal
Left in 2009: Jermaine O'Neal, Anthony Parker
Arrived in 2009: Rasho Nesterovic, Jarrett Jack, Reggie Evans

I know that that list was pretty arbitrary, but there's no denying that the Raptors have lost a lot of strong personalities; personalities who have kept the team together, on message, in focus, and have even acted as de facto coaches at times.  Heck, I think I'm being pretty generous saying that Reggie Evans is a "leader" on this team. 

My point is, what made the 2006-2007 team so effective was having so many mature heads on the court who had a lot of basketball experience.  These mature heads with their high basketball IQ taught the young'uns where they needed to be, how to act, and how to play ball.  Those guys just don't seem to be around anymore.

Exasperating things even further is just how little Chris Bosh seems to have left any kind of imprint on the Raptors.

You can argue a lot of things about our departing captain, but one of the worst things about Chris Bosh in his final year as a Raptor is that I have never seen a leader look more despondent about his role than CB4.  Always talking about how tired he was talking about the same issue, Chris Bosh chose to lead by example by dominating on the court putting up great numbers.  People might say that this was a prime example of Chris Bosh asserting his leadership qualities.

I'd say that it's a prime example of Chris Bosh asserting his superstar quality.

But leadership? 

When I think about leaders playing Chris Bosh's position, I look at guys like Kevin Garnett, or Shane Battier who seem to leave an imprint on every single player on the floor.  These guys simply don't let others take plays off and they also never really give up on their team, something that I've felt from CB4 a lot this previous year; none more so than in the final stretch where we didn't really see him publicly support his team until the final game.

It's why I'm looking at our roster, how it's laid out, and looking at Bryan Colangelo and wondering where did his blueprint from 2006-2007 go?  The Raptors are now looking to become one of the youngest rosters in the entire NBA by the end of summer, and I don't see a whole lot of strong personalities who will imprint themselves on this team.

Save one.

Jarrett Jack has just continued to amaze me all through the summer.  By coming in to work with the young guys and continuing to be a presence with the organization in the off season, Jarrett Jack seems to be taking the reins of this team full of wild horses.  Jack has been a presence in the ACC during the rookie camps in order to get a head start with developing chemistry between his teammates.  To me, this says a lot about his character and what he is trying to do with the Raptors.  It's this kind of leadership that we've seldom seen from this team and it's much needed.

It's that kind of leadership that we have to build on.

It's why when you ask me about what kind of player the Raptors should spend their $14.5 Million trade exception, I think Bryan Colangelo has to find a Battier-type of player with that money.  The Raptors are a young team that will need to be led by strong personalities.  It's players like Kevin Willis and Charles Oakley who nurtured our youthful core in the past, and it's that kind of player that the Raptors are in desperation to find moving forward.  These are the kinds of players who will work to protect our future investments and help to guide them to become long-term productive players.  It's why guys like Shane Battier and Jerry Stackhouse are so instrumental to competitive teams who have no real "franchise player".  Even the recent acquisition of a guy like Leandro Barbosa is a good start in filling some of this leadership void and will ultimately help to accelerate the growth of players like Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan

However, there's no reason for Bryan Colangelo to stop here.

Here's hoping that this is just the start of  Bryan Colangelo's hunt for experienced leadership to help guide what's becoming a skilled, young, core.