I would like to take this moment to apologize for the fact that I have been MIA from the blog for a while. Unfortunately the demands of being a university student and being as popular as I think I am are sometimes too great. I also have not found anything compelling enough lately for me to write about until today.
I am pissed off. I am a Raptors fan and I am not one to hide it. Coming from a town where hockey dominates, I always thought that if the Raptors became relevant, more people would care about basketball and I wouldn’t receive criticism for being “white playing a black man’s game” (which is a problematic statement but not what I am pissed off about right now so I will save that conversation for another day). I was not huge on the Rudy Gay/ Jose & Ed Davis trade but I understood that the Raptors gave up a lot to get Kyle Lowry and that is who they were committing to for the future and wanted to bring in a big talent and they did that.
The moment Gay stepped onto the court, one could sense a shift in the culture of the Toronto Raptors organization. The style of ball they were playing was faster, they were more athletic, the players seemed to be having fun, and they were fun to watch. AND THEY WERE WINNING. Things were going great and people were talking about the playoffs. I was talking playoffs. Then they went on a brutal 5 game losing streak with losses to teams they absolutely have to beat if they are a playoff team in Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Washington. Now they are effectively out of the playoff picture baring an improbable run from the Raps and a monumental collapse from other teams. This leaves the Raptors organization looking forward to next year.This is where I get pissed off. This off-season we likely don’t have a first rounder (it’s top 3 protected so I am hoping we get crazy lucky). So what should a team that is not very good now and has no big time rookie coming in next year do?
Fear not Raptors fans for we have 2 lottery picks on our roster as rookies this year. We still have the potential to get better. If they actually get to play! I have been impressed with Jonas Valanciunas in what I have seen. He is thick, hits people, rebounds and works hard. He doesn’t make me cringe with stupid plays and every now and again, I see really nice footwork. Ross has admittedly been up and down this year, but when he “gets up” its fun to watch (I’m sorry, that was a bad joke but it just presented itself and had to be said). He has hit the rookie wall and struggled lately. I’m told by my NBA insiders (Gene Banks, Assistant Coach of the Wizards, and Walker D. Russell, scout for the Knicks) that Ross was the second best shooter in the pre-draft workouts. An athletic shooter who can also attack the rim is exactly the type of player they need to surround DeRozan and Gay
What makes me so frustrated is how the Raptors are moving forward with these rookies. Since the All-Star break, Valanciunas has averaged 19.4 minutes per game. This is simply not enough. The Raps are now at a point in their season where they need to be getting Valanciunas as many minutes as they can against other top level big men in the NBA. I love Amir Johnson and Aaron Gray is a big body but neither of those two are top level big men and will not push Val in the same way that competition against the likes of David Lee, Nene, and even guys like Larry Sanders and Emeka Okafor will. From this point on, Jonas should be getting a minimum of 25 minutes a game to really allow him to improve. Ross has not shot the ball confidently for a while and since the break has averaged only 8.2 minutes per game with a pair of Did Not Plays in addition. I understand the guy hasn’t been making shots but it isn’t going to do much for his confidence knowing that if he misses his shot, he may not get back on the floor the rest of the game. Ross can defend, can get out in transition and in theory is a good shooter. There is no reason the number 8 overall pick on a team not making the playoffs should not even enter the game twice in the past 8 games (unless their name is Joe Alexander who had no business being drafted at 8).
The thing that triggered this whole “Ryan is pissed at the Raptors” was seeing today that my main man Quincy Acy was sent to the D-League once again. I am admittedly biased towards Quincy (and this is a beauty of a blog: I am allowed to be). I was able to spend a couple days with him when he came up to the camp I worked with and I was just able to hang out with him. He is such a nice guy and already has a son that he takes care of with his girlfriend who came to Toronto with him. His play this year always excites me as when he comes in, he always picks up a couple rebounds, either gets a good dunk or get fouled, and when he is one the bench he is the best teammate I have seen in a Raptor uniform in my 21 years of life. He celebrates his teammates successes like none other and is always the first to welcome his teammates back to the huddle. For him to get better and become the Reggie Evans that everyone says he can be (he is more athletics then Reggie), he needs to play more then just garbage minutes. Why you would send a guy down to the D-League after being all but eliminated from playoff contention is beyond me.
I am normally a very happy person but every now and again people piss me off. Brian, you’re pissing me off.