Continuing our outside look at the newest Raptors, the HQ touches base with SB Nation's Denver Stiffs and Dream Shake regarding Linas Kleiza and David Andersen...
Sometimes the best way to get a good take on a player is to ask someone who covered said player on a former team.
We did that earlier in the week regarding Leandro Barbosa as SB Nation's "Bright Side of the Sun" broke things down. We recently reached out to two more of SB Nation's finest basketbloggers, Andrew Feinstein from the Nuggets' blog Denver Stiffs, and Tom Martin from the Rockets' blog The Dream Shake, to get their take on two of Toronto's off-season acquisitions; Linas Kleiza and David Andersen.
Here were their thoughts, starting with Kleiza:
First off, everyone in Denver liked Linas Kleiza and he was missed last season. How often do you have a player off your bench who can go for 40-plus points (as LK did once against the Jazz a few seasons ago) on any given night? If I had one word to describe Kleiza, it would be "fearless" - and this was good and bad for the Nuggets. Good because regardless of what the score was, Kleiza played aggressively, never hesitated on open shots and routinely took the ball strong to the rack when the Nuggets offense got stagnant.
And bad because regardless of what the score was, Kleiza played aggressively and never hesitated to shoot.
Kleiza treated his off-the-bench minutes with a Carlos Delfino-esque "hey, they're not giving me a lot of minutes anyway so I might as well shoot while I'm out here" style. Which in many instances saved the Nuggets or at least made them very competitive in situations they weren't otherwise (see the 2008 playoffs first round versus the Lakers when only Kleiza and J.R. Smith showed up in what became a first-round sweep).
As I'm sure Raptors fans are well aware of, Kleiza doesn't play defense particularly well. Check that, he plays no defense. But he's a tough player who can score in bunches and jump start a stagnant offense off the bench. I'm happy to see him back in the NBA and hope he finds more playing time in Toronto than he did in Denver.
So a mixed bag here but you have to love the word "fearless" associated with him. Toronto desperately needs more players of this ilk so having a tough, rugged force at the 3-4 who will get to the rim will be a major boost, especially in the wake of Bosh's departure.
From there we move to Andersen, a hotly contested player on the site hilariously enough considering how little he may play.
The crux of the issue regarding the former Rocket is just that however; will Andersen be viewed as a player who Colangelo and co. expect to play significant minutes and contribute or is he simply a smart financial transaction that in the long run gives the team more flexibility?
From Tom's breakdown, let's hope it's the latter.
David Andersen is instant offense, perhaps as much instant offense as you'll see out of a relatively unheard of 6'11 foreigner. He averaged 14.8 points per 36 minutes last season, which is incredibly nice to have off the bench. If Big Dave catches the ball in the post and has a one-on-one matchup, he's got a good chance at converting. His turnaround jumper is, for lack of a better word, water.
But that's it. That's all David Andersen can do, and we're overrating him a bit even then. Andersen can shoot threes modestly, but his true shooting percentage as a Rocket was a less-than-inspiring 50%. You'd like to see better from a player whose calling card (and only card) is his offense.
Andersen hurts you defensively. As Raptors fans know well by now, just because a player is tall and mobile does not mean that he can suddenly "use his quickness" (or something along those lines) to play good defense. David Andersen hurts a team defensively and doesn't rebound much either. He's another one of those tall guys who can shoot and play the perimeter, which sorta contradicts the whole purpose of having a tall guy (that purpose being to command control of the paint). (And as an aside, I thought Toronto already had enough guys like this?)
You'll love Dave because he is funny and can score in bunches, but other than that, I'm really, really glad that Bryan Colangelo took him off our hands. Dave is as developed as he'll ever be at this point, regardless of how little NBA experience he has. What you'll see from the start is what you'll get.
That pretty much echoes my thoughts post-trade, but again, if it comes down to simply an opportunity to turn a trade exception into an expiring contract as many of our astute readers pointed out, then go BC go.
A big thanks to both blogs for giving us their take and next week we'll grab one final viewpoint, this one from SB Nation's Hornets blog, "At the Hive," regarding Mr. Julian Wright.