Raptors: This IS the Summer of Jorge

By Jeff Wong

Bryan Colangelo’s been wheeling and dealing again, most recently trading smooth big man Charlie Villanueva for lightning quick guard T.J. Ford. Among his next moves is the signing of Spanish free agent forward Jorge Garbajosa. How will “Garba” fit in this roster?

Garba (or “Goober,” as Ryan affectionately calls him) is a power forward/centre in Europe who, according to his Euroleague profile, is just under 6’8″, although other sources say he is 6’7″ or 6’9″. There are some who liken him to Andres Nocioni, an NBA 3/4, but this description makes me think of Charles Oakley with a three-point shot and without the bizarre remarks. Maybe instead he could refer to himself in the third person (“Jorge is getting upset!!”) and fill the void left by Jalen Rose…

Here are some noteworthy remarks in Draft Express’s scouting report:

Personality: “He’s first a team player, even when he presides as the leader.”

Offence: “Garbajosa gains most of his offensive advantages on the perimeter, forcing his matchup to step out thanks to his reliable perimeter stroke, and enjoying range that likely extends out to the NBA three-point line. Meanwhile, he will punish his man for guarding him too closely by taking him off the dribble and looking for the layup. He’s a nice ball-handler and will rarely turn it over.”

“He does a tremendous job clearing space in the paint for his team’s center, allowing him to operate more comfortably with the room he creates. Garbajosa himself will feed him or move the ball so it can reach that spot. If he’s guarded by a smaller defender, he can take him to the low post, where he usually tries to attract defensive help and feed an open teammate. He’s a very good passer, not spectacular, but tremendously effective, particularly within the flow of the offense. And he’s constantly working to make the offense run smoothly, setting picks and moving without the ball.”

Defence: “He’s a great player forcing personal fouls, mainly in slashing situations… he’s as good defensively as he is offensively. He delivers every bit of intensity and intelligence to get the job done. His lateral movement is quite nice, and he’s also a tough guy. Considering his limited physical and athletic gifts, he’s a remarkable shot-blocker who shows excellent timing … Not a bad rebounder in the international game …

Weaknesses: “He’s a 6-9 power forward with limited leaping ability and nothing more than decent quickness.”

“His shot selection is not always the best. Sometimes he’ll settle for the three-pointer excessively, even if he’s not making them. However, that has been the case when he has enjoyed a leading role on his team; in a more marginal role, it’s hard to picture him going overboard with his perimeter stroke.”

He sounds to me like a serious upgrade over Matt Bonner, adding experience and defence to long bombs and hustle. 

Garba also sounds good for team chemistry, as he is already familiar with some of his current teammates. His career began with Tau Vitoria, point guard Jose Calderon‘s former team, and has also played for Benetton Treviso alongside first pick Andrea Bargnani and second-rounder Uros Slokar.

So the Raptors now have five players who can fill in at the 3: Garba, Joey Graham, Morris Peterson, Kris Humphries and P.J. Tucker. However, none of these guys are natural 3’s, since Garba, Graham and Humphries are converted 4’s, Mo Pete is now more of a 2, and the undersized Tucker (6’5″) is being groomed to cover the 2 as well. Nevertheless, with so many looking for floor time, the pressure is on the youngsters to earn their minutes.

The thin spots on the Raptors’ depth chart are now third-string centre (get well soon, Pape), backup shooting guard and veteran backup point/combo guard. The rumoured deals for Euroleague MVP Anthony Parker and Phoenix Suns’ shooter Eddie House would patch up those holes perfectly and, presumably, complete the team – but you never know with wily Bry Colangelo.

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7 thoughts on “Raptors: This IS the Summer of Jorge

  1. What about Nba experience and nba leadership experience. Mo is the Vet. Rasho? House? Chris has enough leadership responsibility for a still young player. Let’s let Chris lead on the court. Let’s see some of the load shifted to someone who can be expected to help lead.
    I’ll give Andrea a seventy percent chance of enjoying NbA success but with Parker and Barajosa there is a much lower chance of succeeding. I’m hearing 12 mil. for 3 years for “josa, Green should be at least as costly, House gave up a player option so he’s going where the money is.
    The very future tradable Harrington and Wells are still out there and the number of teams with cap space is shrinking. Atlanta is injuncted. Give the better player of the two whatever money he can get elsewhere for one year shorter. Just pick the right one.
    OR Pick the best player from Elson, Banks, Murray, Jeffries or Wilcox and sign him for something more than the mid level exception or whatever they are being offered. Five decent young players with Nba experience. Unrestricted. Just pick the one or at least a really good one.
    To take this need for Nba experience advocacy one step further what about Mike James as the veteran backup shooting/ veteran backup point/combo guard. Why do you think he’s done his negotiating at Raptor’s practice?

  2. I don’t see why we forked out 3 million per season for an unproven NBA player… why not put that money towards a Eddy House or Chris Wilcox? I’m sticking with calling him “Goober” until he earns that fat pay cheque!

    I’m not sold on the CV deal… why did we give away a future All-Star and leave ourselves with a huge hole at three spot? I like Ford as a point guard for this team but his back problems scare me a bit.

    I’m a huge fan of PJ Tucker and I’m keeping my fingeres crossed that he’s able to stick around Toronto for awhile. I feel he’ll be a great defensive player for us and will provide the team with a mean streak that we were sorely missing last season. You mentioned that he may play SG next season, is that just because of his size? I tihnk he’s a beast on the glass and I think he would be a great small forward for us because of that. People worry too much about size and ignore talent during the Draft (ie Charles Barkley and Ben Wallace).

  3. If you check out the link “this description” in the second paragraph, Mike D’Antoni expected that he would be at least an 8th man in the NBA. He may not have that kind of impact in the first few games, but he might live up to D’Antoni’s prediction eventually.

    Remember guys – this isn’t a championship year. These moves (including the pitch for Anthony Parker, a projected 6th or 7th man) are made for today and tomorrow.

    Re: Tucker – You’re right about the height thing. He may not be tall, but he’s got a 7′ wingspan. Like I read recently: You don’t block shots with your scalp; more likely you’ll stop’em with your hands, and that’s the key. Nevertheless, I think I read somewhere that he’s going to play some 2.

  4. You do not build for the future by committing cap space to 6-8 million/ year to 6-8th men. Unless their good. I understand the logic behind these two players, but I think there are viable alternatives that we are ignoring. We do not know how these two will do in the NBA, but there are options that we or better yet the GM should know which nba experienced free agents are the best prospectsand maybe we sign one or two of those guy’s and end up with a starter. Experience should matter.

  5. Jimbo, time and again you see NBA teams fail because they lack the effective depth in their rosters. I’ve heard that you build teams starting with the bench, and that makes sense: You don’t come by starters easily, but carefully chosen role players can make or break a team.

    Yes, we don’t know how European players will do in North America (see last season’s Fabricio Oberto and Sarunas Jasikevicius), but there have also been successes – didn’t Mike James develop his game in Europe? Anthony Parker sounds more talented than James, IMO.

  6. How talented can a player sound. James felt good to me last year. No one opposes having a strong bench.
    At least the GM is not signing/bringing in people with long term deals. That is the best thing about his plan so far.
    The drop off in talent from Bosh, Peterson and TJ to Rasho, Graham, Humphries is one thing, but below that all we have is hope.Which is still better than the last two years. At least we know an experienced guy like James has done it before

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