NBA Fan’s Perspective: What I Learned About NBA, the Raptors and Blake Griffin 2

February 14th, 2011 by Alessio Gasparotto Leave a reply »

Before I begin my second installment allow me to add in a section I forgot to put in the first article NBA Fan’s Perspective: What I Learned About NBA, the Raptors and Blake Griffin—The NBA.


Importance of Free-Throw Shooting

This should be the easiest shot in basketball (with the exception of a layup or dunk).  Just you and the ball with the hoop 15 feet away.  No defender.  No shot clock.  No problem, right? 

Well if you talk to players like Shaq, Biedrins, Jordan (DeAndre not Michael) and Howard, this is a big problem.  So much so that I watched it affect the outcome of two games this weekend.  Let me recap what happened.

Friday, Raptors vs. Blazers.  Bayless catches fire in the fourth, helping the Raptors build a five-point lead.  After they miss a shot, Ed Davis corrals an offensive rebound gets fouled and heads to the line to shoot two and possibly put the Raptors up seven late in the fourth.  He misses both, the Blazers take advantage of some mismatches at the other end, momentum swings, game is over and I go home sad.

Sunday night, tie game with seconds left before halftime.  DeAndre Jordan goes to the line hoping to send his team to the locker room with the lead.  He proceeds to air ball the first, much to the delight of the hometown fans, and then misses the second.  That air ball brought about the loudest cheer from the fans, and it continued for the rest of the game whenever Jordan went to the line.  In fact, with about four minutes left in the game, Bargnani intentionally fouled Jordan and later in the quarter he was fouled again during a close game.  He went 2-4 on the next two, finishing 2-6 for the day, and basically forcing his coach to sub him out and go with Brian Cook down the stretch, simply because Jordan was an offensive liability.

I also remember earlier this season, missed free throws by the Rockets (I think) allowing the Hornets to come back and win, not to mention Sunday a missed free throw by Lebron James, led to a three-point Celtics lead and forced the Heat to go for a three rather than a two to tie.

Spend some time in the gym, kids, because those missed free throws will come back to haunt you.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.


Part 2: The Raptors    

Being my team, I have watched these guys plenty this year, and it has been an up and down (mostly down) roller-coaster ride.  So let’s get into some things that really jumped out at me this weekend.


Bargnani Can Score With the Best of Them  

By the best of them I do mean Kobe, Lebron, Durant, Wade, Dirk, etc. Really slapped you in the face with that one, didn’t I. And no, I am not on some cheap meds.  Look no one is more critical of Bargnani than I am, but the guy can flat out score. 

There are two things that I have noticed about elite scorers in this league. First is that you watch the game and think, wow, player X has been incredibly quiet tonight; then you look up at the board and you see 27 in the points category beside their name.  The other is similar in that you look at the board and see player X with, let’s say, seven points at halftime. Then partway through the fourth quarter, player X has hit a few shots in a row, and you look up thinking “he must have 16 or 18 by now,” only to find out he has 25-29 points.  That’s what great scorers do.  They splash in a basket here, a basket there, couple free throws and next thing you know, it’s another 20+ point night. Sneaky points I like to call them.

Now I could write an entire column on things he doesn’t do well in my sleep.  But let’s give credit where credit is due.  This guy is a matchup nightmare when he has the ball in his hand, if he feels like it.


Lack the Knack on the Boards

There are three players on this team who can rebound the ball at a pretty good rate. Reggie Evans, who is injured, was having a career year on the glass prior to breaking his foot. He is the hard-worker type of rebounder.  You cannot just box him out and collect the board, because he will keep fighting you for that ball until you have both hands securely around it.  If you make a half ass attempt to grab a rebound, he will snatch it away before you even know it gone.

Amir Johnson is similar to Evans with his work ethic, but he is also athletically gifted and can out jump you to get a rebound. 

Davis however is the only Raptor that seems to have that knack to know where the ball is going to end up.  When a shot goes up, he has that Kevin Love understanding of where the ball will carom off the rim and end up.  You will notice he gets many of his rebounds by moving to a spot and taking the ball away from a guy who is positioned a little too close, or too far from the rim.  His box outs are alright for a rook, but once he masters the art, this guys can be a great rebounder for years to come.


DeRozan the Next Rudy Gay?      

I’ll let you decide if that’s a good thing or bad thing, but I see a similar progress to their development as players.  Both players were very athletic swing men, who came into the league with expectations that were probably a little to high.  Both, however, made significant jumps offensively between their first and second years. 

DeRozan shoots a better percentage from the field, but has yet to develop a three-point shot, and his rebounding and free throw attempts per game need to increase. Furthermore, his 17-foot jumper is much more consistent, and he has earned a few more touches this year. If he can plateau at around 20 points per game as Gay has, I think the Raptors would be more than happy.


Team Does Not Seem Prepared 

Again I’m not going to pass judgement on whether it is the coaches who are not preparing the players well enough, or if the players are not reading the scouting reports but they make so many flawed decisions, especially on defense, that you have to wonder about team preparation. 

I watched in horror this weekend as time and time again three-point shooters were left wide open.  It took me under 20 seconds to do a quick search on Yahoo Sports to find out that Rudy Fernandez, Nicolas Batum and Brian Cook take 60 percent, 42 percent and 49 percent of their shots from behind the three-point arc, respectively.  On top of that they are successful 34 percent (Batum and Fernandez) and 43 percent (Cook) of the time. 

These guys are three-point shooters, of course they are going to get off a few.  But three guys, who are known to shoot threes, getting a combined 17 three point shot attempts over two games, it shouldn’t happen, and if it does they shouldn’t be as wide open as they were.

Thanks for reading.  The final installment focusing on the most exciting player in the NBA will follow tomorrow.

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