Half Season Grades

As it stands right now, the Raptors are 13-28, a simple calculation would have them winning 26 games this year.  Since I predicted 25 wins earlier, it seems like the team is performing as expected.

I will say this about the Raptors, their issues with injuries probably cause them a few games.  With a healthier lineup, they may have won a few more games.  Their effort is there for the most part, but they are just not good enough and lately not healthy enough.

Having said that, I still have to be realistic about the grades.  Since the team only won 13 games, and no all-star in this bunch, no one will get a grade above B.  To be fair, the team doesn’t really have a lot of total failures, I think that’s good.

On to the report card:

Jose Calderon: Probably the best Raptor so far this year.  I know many people will argue against it and his game today didn’t help his case.  But Jose has been very solid in terms of shooting the ball and finding the open man;  he remains the only player in the lineup that can run a team.  His turnovers are a little higher mostly due to the fact that he is trying to push the ball more, and that’s something he isn’t built for.  Calderon is an old-school PG in many ways, love to run the team on the half court and find open man; teammates love him because he will give them the ball at the right spot, coaches love him because he can run a team.  His defense has actually improved, he is just bad, not awful now.  Grade B

DeMar DeRozan: Good news, he is getting more consistent in terms of scoring.  Bad News, need to work on everything else.  His defense isn’t good, which is kind of expected for a 21 year old.  His rebounding though is just awful considering his athletic ability. He is too busy leaking out instead of helping out on the boards.   It’s fine if you have a Dwight Howard there, but when you have Andrea Bargnani as your center, he needs all the help he can get. Too often DeRozan isn’t helping.  We will see if he can show further improvements in his game during the 2nd half of the season. Grade C

Linas Kleiza: He is the only Raptor getting a failing grade, so that’s saying something.  Sadly, he is playing way too many minutes for a guy who is a turnover waiting to happen on offense, and a pylon on defense.  The sad thing is that he is not hitting his open looks, which is the least he could do.  This is another Bryan Colangelo free agent signing special, please don’t give him money to sign anyone.  Grade F

Amir Johnson: When he stays on the court, Amir is a pretty darn good basketball player.  Runs the floor well, good instinct on the boards, improved jump shot and doing well at the FT line.  Unfortunately, he can’t stay on the floor thanks to foul trouble. Some of those are just stupid fouls, like fouling a guy 75 feet from the basket, is not a good foul no matter how you slice it.  Unless he plays 30 minutes a game, he is not worth his contract.  I can’t hate on him too much since he is playing with a bad back and he is good when he is on the floor. Grade B-

Andrea Bargnani: If nothing else, Bargnani is proving that he can score the basketball with consistency.  No longer just an outside shooter, he can now post up and score as well.  He is extremely difficult for anyone to guard because he is 7 ft tall, and can go inside and outside.  Unfortunately, his help defense and rebounding is still lacking.  I am not sure I have seen a worse help defender in a Raptor uniform and that’s saying something. And I wish he could put more effort on the boards.  Opposing teams know they will have a field day on the boards when they play against the Raptors thanks to Bargnani’s little contribution there. Grade C+

Leandro Barbosa: When healthy, a pretty darn exciting player to watch.  Streaky to the nth degree.  If he is on a bad streak, pull him right away and don’t play him again because he is going to jack up shots like he is on a hot streak.  Was asked to be a backup PG at times, due to injuries on this team, and he fared better than expected.  He didn’t play keep away as often as he would have done as a SG.  Barbosa is also one of the quickest player in the league, which is especially helpful in a short clock situation.  His defense isn’t much, he read the passing lane well, but otherwise doesn’t offer much resistance.  Grade B-

Ed Davis: I wrote about him last week, saying that I don’t see him being a star player.  Prompting someone hating on me.  I did say he is going to be a good NBA player, like a Tyson Chandler or something like that.  Personally I see a lot of Dale Davis in him, which isn’t bad considering he is the 13th pick in the draft and Dale Davis had a real good career. I am not sure how by not comparing Ed Davis to an all-star is insulting him.  Not everyone can be a Kevin Garnett or Tim Duncan, someone has to do the dirty work.  Davis is a guy who can do that, he has a good nose for the ball, I think he is very good when he doesn’t have the ball.  He knows his limitation and not try to do things he isn’t capable of doing.  Couple of things he need to do in the off-season: Get stronger, players are pushing him around in the low post. And improve his FT shooting. He is going to be around for a long time if he can keep this up, not as a star but as a solid starter in this league. Grade B-

Joey Dorsey: I like Dorsey. He can rebound and play decent defense.  He is not an offensive zero like Reggie Evans.  He isn’t the worst 5th big in this league, he didn’t embarrass himself as a starter either.  I would bring him back for a min contract.  Grade B-

Sonny Weems: Disappointing.  Last year, I was hoping he would develop into an all-around player, but he focused on his scoring instead.  He surely tried hard to be Kobe Bryant some nights, with horrible results.  A tip to Sonny, run the break, find the open man, rebound the ball and let other people do the scoring.  Defensively, he is getting blown by too many times.  Grade C-

Julian Wright: The best defensive player for the Raptors, and it’s not by default.  He is genuinely good.  Long arms, quick feet, I wish to see him getting more playing time.  I would actually put him as a starter as someone who can give me energy on the defensive end.  The starting 5  needs someone who can play defense and Wright is darn good at it.  Offensively, he is not that great.  He can handle the ball and find open man, but his instinct is a question mark to say the least.  And he has no jump shot, which doesn’t mesh well with DeRozan.  But then again, the Raptors don’t exactly have LeBron James in their starting lineup.  He is probably the best of the bunch. Grade C+

Jerryd Bayless: If I am the coaching staff, I would not let him come back until he is 100%.  Injuries like this needs time to heal.  I don’t see any need to rush him back, it’s not like the team will stop losing when he is healthy.  Bayless played well for the Raptors; he still couldn’t run the team yet but he is showing some improvement in that department.  His defense though isn’t any good.  He is quick and strong and pretty big for a PG, so there is no excuse for him not being any good.  Grade C+

Reggie Evans: He was on his way to having the weirdest stat year in recent memory.  His 40 min number would be 5.9/17.8/2.1, which is pretty amazing in itself.  I am glad that he isn’t trying to do anything on offense.  When he gets the offensive boards, he kicks it back out for a fresh shot clock.  He was in great shape and had good movements laterally on defense.  In a way he is the anti-Bargnani.  His injury hurts.  His hustle play gives the team good energy and hide the weakness of Bargnani.  I am not sure he will come back as a Raptor next year, but I will miss him.  Grade B-

Jay Triano: Did a much better job in terms of getting his message across.  He is harder on the players and hold them accountable.  Unfortunately, the team is still one of the worst defensive team in the league.  But the effort of his team may have save his job till at least the end of the year.  Grade C

Bryan Colangelo: He usually fares well on trades, not so well on free agent signing.  That’s pretty much bang on this year.  Bayless for Jack is a steal, and getting Barbosa for Turkoglu is a robbery.  But again, he spend his free-agent money on guys that ended up as a big disappointment.  I think the problem is that Colangelo thinks he can make a trade at any time so if a free agent doesn’t work out, he can trade him out of town.  Jason Kapono see ya, Turkoglu gone, Jack not here anymore. So in the end these free agents doesn’t hurt the team as much as it could be, but it doesn’t really help the team either.  Right now the team is going to win less than 30 games, and miss the playoffs for the 3rd year straight.  That is a failure no matter how you spin it.  Grade D

Didn’t grade: Peja and Alabi

 

The second half of the season will start on Wed, and it will not be any prettier than the first half.  If you want to watch winning basketball, the Raptors may not be the team to watch.  I will suggest everyone to start watching some NCAA basketball, you will hear a lot of names come draft time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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