I'm currently in second place in one of my NBA Fantasy Basketball Leagues.
There are a couple of us battling for that spot, but none that are likely to catch the guy in first place, he's just ahead by too many points.
About a month ago though, I did think I had a shot at reeling him in, and armed with a very strong group of big men (Noah, Monroe, Pekovic, Ryan Anderson and Amir Johnson), looked to move one strength to bolster the categories I wasn't doing so hot in (assists, steals.)
The problem is, I did indeed get a boost in my weaker categories after doing some wheeling and dealing, but then the categories I once dominated, in turn, became problem areas. In essence, I had improved in one area at the expense of a few others, and net, net, came out neutral, continuing to trend in second- place, far behind the front-runner.
Such can be the way with Fantasy Ball and as I watched the Toronto Raptors go down to the Miami Heat, 100 to 85 yesterday afternoon, I couldn't help but wonder if Bryan Colangelo had perhaps done the same thing.
Rudy Gay through two games has certainly looked like a major plus at the wing position.
He's shooting just under 49 per cent from the field (versus a career average of 45 and previously in Memphis, 41) and has his highest offensive rating (106) in five seasons.
He's looked to be a net plus on D too and his two-game PER is 21, a career-best mark.
Yep, it's two games, but there's no question Rudy Gay is an upgrade at the small forward position.
But at what cost?
In yesterday's loss, the Raptors struggled to run their offence down the stretch, and weren't so great at taking care of the ball. The club was second in the league in terms of "lowest turnover rate" but at last night's pace (15), they'd be in the league's bottom half, a major difference from game to game. Considering that in games where the Toronto Raptors are down by five points or less with under five minutes remaining the club has only one win in 19 tries, giving a few more possessions per game to an opponent could be huge. There's no guarantee that with Jose Calderon in tow, this would be completely eliminated of course, but it couldn't hurt. Jose every year is one of the top floor generals in the league in terms of taking care of the rock.
The Heat scored 17 points off of the Dinos' 15 turnovers, running the ball down Toronto's throat at every occasion.
They also clamped down on D in the second half, and the Raptors' offence sputtered scoring only 35 points during that span.
It was hard not to see brick after brick from long-range (Raps were 4 of 18 from beyond the arc), as well as some curious offensive decisions, and not wonder if Mr. Calderon couldn't have given the club some better options.
The same was true with the absence of Ed Davis as minus the former UNC big-man, the Raps had to rely heavily on Aaron Gray down low. Gray played well, especially on the glass where he hauled in 12 rebounds, but he's simply not the offensive threat Davis is, and therefore at times it was as if the Dinos were playing 4 on 5 offensively, the Heat, leaving Gray unchecked, daring him to shoot.
Again, would Davis have meant the difference between what was a loss and a potential win?
I'm not sure.
But comparing this match to the one Toronto played in Miami about a week ago and you can indeed see some give and take.
For instance on shot selection, the Raps were better near the rim, but much worse (10 of 37 vs 20 of 46) from 16 feet and out. Losing Calderon's long-range shooting, plus his ability to open up those looks for teammates, hurts, as does Davis' improving face-up game. Like Calderon, some of Davis' effectiveness comes down to the Heat simply having to guard him, negating double-team options for the Heat. As noted, with Aaron Gray, that's not nearly the case.
Of course again, we're talking about one game here, and there are a myriad of other factors involved.
For starters, the Miami Heat are a championship level team so winning no matter the roster, is no easy feat. As well, Toronto got almost nothing from their bench this time around, a major factor in this loss.
So it's certainly too early to say this trade was a net negative or "push."
But I think it bears keeping an eye on over the coming weeks to see if Colangelo's most recent trade was indeed an example of "two steps forward, two steps back."