[Update: I’ve added a poll for the blog, and the first one is at the bottom]
There’s a line of thought among some Raptor fans that Chris Bosh is not worth the maximum contract, and that the Raptors should let him go (either via trade or sign-and-trade) and build around Bargnani and the rest of the Raptors. To put it mildly, these people are morons who have no business watching an NBA game let alone sharing their opinions on one. Okay, maybe that’s not putting it mildly.
When Turkoglu got an elbow to the face, two thoughts came to mind. The first is that I really feel for Turkoglu because I know how it feels. I once got a shoulder hit just below my eye that felt like it completely collapsed my face. I’ve been hit (and hurt) many times and kept playing, but this was different and knew it. I first checked to see if all my teeth were intact (I’ve lost a tooth playing ball before), and then checked my nose to make sure it was still where it was supposed to be. Stupidly, I did go back in when I discovered my face still intact, despite the fact I was seeing double (slightly). The most shocking thing was when I finally looked in the mirror and saw that my face looked, for the most part, normal. I had expected a look similar to Rocky after fighting Apollo Creed the first time. There was a little swelling, but no bruising at all.
It turned out I had fractured my orbit bone and it was more than six months before I got most of the feeling back in my face and to this day, I don’t have all of it back (it’s been nearly two years). The worst part about having no feeling in part of your face is showering. Since you can’t actually feel the water on you, you can’t tell if you haven’t washed the soap off. It was very odd and not the least bit pleasant.
But I digress.
The second thing I thought about was how the Raptors won’t necessarily miss Turkoglu if he doesn’t come back in the game. The great thing about this Raptors team, as I’ve mentioned before, is the bench. Unlike last season, when an injury to any of the key players was devastating, this year there’s only one player who is irreplaceable. And that’s Chris Bosh. When Turkoglu went out, I knew that between Wright, Weems and Belinelli, the Raptors would be able to absorb his loss. Obviously those same players make DeRozan’s absence not even missed, and Jack and Calderon can both start, which makes an injury to one of them a non-issue, especially when Banks played so well during Calderon’s missed games, and Belinelli is a capable enough ball handler and passer that he can play the point in a pinch. Even Bargnani can be replaced by Nesterovic and Johnson. They don’t have Bargnani’s scoring touch, but are better rebounders and play well alongside Bosh.
Bosh, however, cannot be lost for long without the team going into a tailspin. You see, Bosh is the only consistent scorer and rebounder the Raptors have. Bargnani can have great scoring bursts and is the second leading scorer on the team, but he’s too inconsistent to be relied on as the team’s first option. He relies too much on people creating for him and doesn’t get to the line enough. And he’s the second best scorer. Nine times he has not scored more than 12 points in a game. Compare that with Bosh’s 2. And one of those two, Bosh only played 15 minutes.
And it can’t be written off to Bosh taking more shots than Bargnani because Bosh only takes two more shots a game. Besides, a lot of times, good players make their own shots. Bosh gets two more shots than Bargnani because he gets himself the shot. Bargnani, for all his talent, doesn’t do that, which is why he goes through so many scoring droughts.
And, needless to say, Bargnani is not going to be able to cover Bosh’s rebounding. The only two player on the roster who can consistently rebound at a rate similar to Bosh (Evans and Johnson) are both foul prone and don’t bring the scoring the Raptors would need if they lost Bosh.
The Raptors can go small to score more, with Turkoglu shifting to PF, but they’d suffer on the boards. If they insert Johnson or Evans into the PF slot, they suffer in the scoring department.
Let’s hope Bosh re-signs, because if he leaves, the Raptors will be in trouble.
In ESPN’s recent Power Rankings, the Raptors are ranked #7. Okay, Mark Stein is one of the few American sports writers who is actually unbiased when it comes to things north of the border, but it’s still a great indication of how far the Raptors have come since their slow start in November.
Can I point out something I probably shouldn’t? The Raptors are only 4 1/2 games behind a struggling Celtics team that has gone 6-11 since winning against Orlando on Christmas day. And speaking of the Celtics, I’ve been suspicious of Garnet’s knee injury from day one. I didn’t like how little the Celtics said, even as the Celtics went into the second round. I didn’t like that little was revealed over the summer about exactly what was wrong with his knee, and I didn’t like how he looked at the start of the season. Sure, he’s had a few big games, but when a player limps, it’s a bad, bad thing. It means two things. One is that he’s not fully healed, and the other is that he’ll probably have problems due to favouring the other leg. Well, it’s already past the halfway point and he’s still having problems with the knee. I think they may be in trouble.
While the race in the east is for the 2nd spot among the contenders (as long as Cleveland doesn’t falter without Mo Williams), and the 5th spot among the pretenders (of which the Raptors are included), in the West, the big race is to see who’s going to make it to the big dance. Currently, there are 6 teams within 2 games of one another, and only 3 of them are going to make the playoffs. Right now, Oklahoma City, Memphis, and Houston are on the outside looking in, but no one would be surprised if all three make the playoffs. Portland is in danger of not making the playoffs, and New Orleans will certainly drop without Chris Paul for a month or two (due to knee surgery). I’m going to guess that at least a couple of those six teams are going to try and make a deal to better their chance.
What on earth is this nonsense about Philly thinking of trading Igoudala. Is he really the problem on this team? And trading him for McGrady? What good would that do? Think they regret letting Andre Miller go? Okay, maybe they don’t, but they should. Personally, Igoudala should be one of the last players they should trade.
If they are intent on trading Igoudala, something crossed my mind. Now as regular readers know, I’m not for trading Calderon, but if Philadelphia offered Igoudala for Calderon, DeRozan and Wright, I’d think long and hard. DeRozan has a lot of potential, but realistically, you’ve got to hope that he’ll be as good as Igoudala. Calderon’s playmaking will be missed, but as I stated above, he’s not indispensable. The addition of Igoudala would give the Raptors an incredible starting five, a top defender, another playmaker and a very good scorer in Igoudala. He’d also immediately become the Raptors second leading rebounder.
The Sixers would get their point guard, and DeRozan would be a prospect that could eventually replace Igoudala.