Is The Sky Falling, and other NBA stories…

After the loss to Golden State, where Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry had a field day against the Raptors, the internet seems to be all abuzz about how awful the Raptors are, how they’ve got no talent and how they might end up breaking the record for the most losses in a season.

I find this puzzling since I’m pretty sure this is the same team that pushed the Lakers just last week, and had fans talking optimistically about the future.

Oh, I forgot, these are RAPTOR fans.

Amazingly enough, DeRozan is still developing well, and Bargnani is the same player he has been since the season started.  No better, no worse.

Ellis and Curry had a good night. And the defense wasn’t very good.

But for some perspective, let’s look at what happened in Indiana, where the Pacers beat the Nuggets 144-113. And no, there was no overtime. 144 points is not historically good, but what is is their 54 points they scored in the third quarter. It’s the fourth highest scoring quarter in history. What’s even more amazing is that they only missed one shot the entire quarter, going 20 for 21, finishing the game with a scorching 64% from the field. The ironic thing is that, before this game, Indiana was fourth last in field goal percentage, BARELY above 40%. Want a bet they take a big jump in the field goal standings?

And the moral of the story, kids, is that it’s a little early in the season to be jumping to conclusions. It’s also a little early to be looking at stats and trying to analyze them. Case in point, John Hollinger’s recent Power Rankings, which are derived from some convoluted forumula, and has the Raptors ranked 18th, ahead of Utah and Oklahoma. Oh, and Denver, who is currently sitting at .500, is ranked 5th.

A week ago, Bargnani was 7th in the league in scoring. Today he’s 28th. Things change a little too quickly at this point in the season. It’s only been 7 games.

That’s why I’m giving it a little more time to discuss what I have seen so far from the Raptors.

So tonight, the Raptors plays the Charlotte Bobcats, who have the same record as the Raptors, so far. Larry Brown and Michael Jordan get to see the player they decided at the last minute not to trade for. I’m predicting a big game for Calderon, who generally rises to challenges like this one.

The Bobcats have only Nazr Mohammed and DeSagana Diop at center, and neither player much more than 15 minutes a game. My math may be off, but that tells me they’ll have a small lineup for much of the game, with either Diaw or Tyrus Thomas playing center. What this means for the Raptors? Well, probably not much since the Raptors don’t really have much of an inside gamer to punish smaller teams.

And despite playing so much small ball, Charlotte is a team that is having a lot of trouble scoring, averaging under 90 ppg. Of course they’re a decent defensive team, so they’re basically the mirror opposite of the Raptors, who are a decent offensive team, but so far have had trouble stopping the other team from scoring, at least for more than a quarter a game.

Sadly, even if Charlotte wanted to pull the trigger, again, I don’t know if they have anything I’d consider taking, in exchange for Calderon. You think they’d give up a first round pick to get him? No, me neither, especially considering they’ll be lucky to make the playoffs, this year.

Fortunately, I PVR’d the Utah-Miami game that went into overtime. Unfortunately, I discovered the final score when I accidentally went to the ESPN home page. So after the loss, Miami, after 8 games, is 3rd in their division, behind both Orlando and Atlanta. So much for destroying the rest of the league. Of course, it is early. I think it’s a pretty safe bet they won’t finish the season with just 51 wins (.625, which is what they’re at right now).

Am I the only one who is annoyed that ESPN is devoting so much time and space to the Heat? Maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t care about the Heat any more than any of the other contenders out there. I PVR’d the game because a) I like Utah, b) I hadn’t seen Miami play yet during the regular season and c) it was the only game on TV, so it’s not like I had a lot of choice.

But the Heat Index? Okay, maybe I’m a little late on criticizing this, but that’s a little ridiculous. I didn’t have really any care one way or the other of how they’d do, but now I hope they don’t do well just to make ESPN look bad for doing that. They’re 5-3 right now. I’d be shocked if they won more than 65 games this year, which is very good, but certainly no historical.

4 thoughts on “Is The Sky Falling, and other NBA stories…

  1. Tim,

    From yours and my perspective, as long time fans who really would like to see the team be able to legitimately challenge for the League Championship one day in the not-too-distant future …

    re: the current struggles of the Raptors

    The more games the Raptors lose this season, the better off the team will be in the long run, provided that they are actually smart enough to:

    i. Not use their TPE; and,
    ii. Win few enough games to actually secure a Top 3 Pick in the 2011 NBA Draft;

    neither of which is at all a certainty, at this early juncture of the season.

    Let’s hope that just this once someone at the top end of the MLSE management tree actually has a clue about what it takes to build a real contender for a pro sports team championship, in the N.A. marketplace.

    • khandor,

      Don’t say that too loud or you’ll get all the people who will call you a loser for wanting to tank. I certainly wouldn’t want the players to lose intentionally, but I do agree the best thing for the team is if they’d get the best chance as possible for a top pick. Thankfully this draft seems to have three possible stars at the top 3 positions, but obviously things change.

      I don’t think the Raptors should avoid using their TPE, just avoid using it on a player who will make an impact. If they can secure a first round draft pick, or two, with the TPE (while taking on salary), I’d be all for that.

      I don’t really understand all the hullabaloo about how the Raptors are doing now. I mean, what exactly were people expecting?

  2. We don’t need to tank, we will win 30 or so games playing pretty watchable basketball. I actually enjoyed ALL our games this year, last year it was pretty hard to watch, especially the last two months…

    I also think we should use our TPE either on a great offensive player (as in athletic, decent shooter, you know) or a defensive player, maybe Okafor.

    • I think what some fans hope and what happens on the court are completely unconnected. As a Raptor fan, I want to see the Raptors get the top pick in the draft next year. The best way is to lose a lot of games. Of course, the players are going to try and win every game because that’s what they are paid to do (and hopefully want to do). The fact that the Raptors simply don’t have the talent will mean that despite the players, it’s likely that Toronto will have a very good chance of, at least, getting one of the top 3 picks next draft.

      If the Raptors want to pick up a good player with the TPE I’d have no problem, but I’d want them to do it after the season.

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