3’s, 3’s, 3’s. Get Your Smokin’ Hot 3’s

Well, there’s one thing for sure about our team next year. We’re going to score a lot of points.

By adding the Miami Heat’s Jason Kapono for the full middle exemption, we can see that the Raptors have sewn up a scoring difficulty they’ve had at the SF position. As the premier 3 point shooter from last year, Kapono will be an incredible threat from 3 point land with Garbo, Parker, and Bargnani (not at the same time, probably, but at least 2 or 3 of the 4 at any one time) giving us options to swing the ball around the arc. The setup we should expect to see then, will see the Raptors employ an inside presence, with point guard penetration, and a lot of great perimeter shooters. Sounds a lot like Phoenix and the Spurs, doesn’t it?

If we thought that last year, the Raptors were potentially a “Phoenix East”, this year, with another major scorer on the table, the comparisons will be even greater. If we match up our teams , they definitely have more than a passing resemblance to one another. However, I’d like to say that surprisingly, the Raptors might have the better defense out of the two clubs. Toronto, towards the last part of last season (with Garbo in the lineup) was more of a Spurs/Suns hybrid; international, high scoring, with good team defense. If Toronto starts the next season with this lineup, defense, will once again, be the biggest difficulty for this team in the early part of the season, as Kapono does not provide a “lock down” defender presence, but is more of a great “team defender”. Nevertheless, I’m fine with this, as I think the the advantages will even things out in the end, and Toronto’s defensive scheme is mainly reliant on high basketball IQ players.

Here are the positives and negatives in this deal:

+ Automatically our best 3 pt shooter the next season. Jason will also make it more difficult for teams as they will not know who will be our 3 pt shooter. Who do you let go off the perimeter? Bargnani? Kapono? Parker? Garbo? It will be difficult for teams to make a decision as far as which player poses the least threat. Morris Peterson (with all the love of the blood, sweat, and tears he put in) is a shooter who shoots well when he gets a lot of touches. Unfortunately, that was no longer going to happen on this Raptors team. Kapono will give us a Steve Kerr/Dell Curry presence. Isn’t that exciting?
+ 6’8″. I’m a big proponent of believing that size matters. If you don’t have size, you better have good quickness on your feet and hands (TJ Ford), or you better have strength and tenacity (Kris Humphries). Luckily, Jason should be able to match up with most SFs within the league as he has a proper balance of both quickness and length. If not, Garbo is waiting behind him.
+ Good clutch shooter. He has a fairly good range within the arc as well as beyond, and he’s been able to play within Pat Riley’s system during crunch time, hitting some pretty good shots. Once again, another perimeter guy that can hit a game winning shot, and he is a good replacement for the outgoing Mo Pete.
+ Great FT %. You can never have enough good FT shooters, and luckily, if there’s one thing that Toronto has a lot of, it’s good FT talent. By having another 80+% shooter on the floor, in late game situations, it’ll mean that it’ll be difficult for our team to lose on foul shots; something that will guarantee a win in close game scenarios.
+ Youth (with experience). He’s been to the finals. He’s learned in a system that is one of the most highly regarded in the NBA. He’s also just 26 years old. (A year younger than me!! God, I feel old.) As a guy who’s still in his 20’s, he will be growing up along side our core set of youth; something that should not be discounted, as he will be here for 4 years. Chemistry will be built.
+/- A good defender, but not a great one-on-one defender. How good is he? Well, good enough to start on Pat Riley’s team, and win some praise from the legendary coach. I think that’s a start. For all the love we give to Mo Pete, he didn’t round back into form defensively until the New Jersey Nets rolled in for the playoffs. I think he won’t be a liability on this Raptors team and its schemes, but he won’t be as good as Mo Pete on single coverage. Then again, there are different configurations of the Raptors to mask this problem
Not a great rebounder. Our biggest concern has been rebounding. Delfino, from what I’ve heard, has a nose for the ball, so it may be interesting to see how our lineup shakes out. Will Delfino get the SF spot in order to crash the boards? Will Kapono play behind Anthony Parker at some point to insure we have a consistent 3pt threat off the bench? In any case, we will see a need for team rebounding again this year.
Injuries. Last season he received a high ankle sprain. He’s supposedly recovered from it, but I’ve always been worried about certain injuries to basketball players: back injuries for Cs and PFs, legs, for everyone else. He seemed to regain most of his mobility upon his return, but I’d keep an eye out for future reference.
Fairly large contract for a long amount of time. It’s pretty interesting to see that Bryan signed all of his other players to 3 year contracts, but Jason signed for 4 years instead. Details haven’t come out yet about how the contract has been shaped, but out of Parker, Garbojosa, Ford and Bosh, the guy that has the longest contract, and will probably be with the team the longest is Kapono.

My conclusion right now, is that he’s an interesting fit for our team. An additional scorer who will draw defenders out, his negatives are fairly small for the potential upgrades in other areas. Hopefully, it’ll mean a net gain. It’s interesting to note the initial reaction from the Raptors faithful has been largely negative. Cries of “I waited for this?!” seemed to be the general sentiment. There are still those that cry out for a Josh Smith athlete, but what people don’t seem to realize is that Bosh, Delfino, and Bargnani can already attack the rim offensively. The days of needing a super athlete are over. Or is it that the people cry out for a… Vince Carter? I guess as fans, we go with what we know best from experience, but at the same time, I think the idea that Bryan has, is a steady one. There’s a clear path to this signing. It’s a part of the vision that Bryan has been trying to build, and is totally in line with the Spurs-Suns hybrid that we’ve been becoming. And the last time I checked, the Spurs won a championship without an “athletic” SG/SF.

There are those that can’t believe that the Raptors didn’t push harder for Grant Hill, but here’s my take on it. 1) He had one, one good injury-free season. These are the same Raptors that took Hakeem, went through the VinceSaga, and are still paying off both Alonzo Mourning and Alvin Williams. I doubt they want to take that risk. and 2) Grant Hill may very well be looking at Phoenix hard, since he probably wants to win. Yeah, you can make the argument that it’s easier to win in the East, but the Raptors have had one good year. I’m sure he’d rather go with a sure thing. Noccioni could have been taken, but I’m not sure he’s all that much better than Kapono. Certainly not on the offense side, and I believe the reason why Noccioni has been better on the defensive side is because of the team he plays on. As far as Sasha Pavlovic is concerned, he’s a guy I wouldn’t have signed unless he was a final option. On a team like Cleveland, who struggled to find someone to compliment LeBron James, Pavlovic consistently managed to not step up. Granted, we could have gotten him for less money, but once again, if the Raptors save 1 or 2 million, it’s not going to help them sign anyone of value.

I would like to say, though, that initially, I was not overly thrilled with this signing. Although I’m not sure what an extra million or two saved would have gotten us (we couldn’t sign anyone of quality for that little amount), I wasn’t pleased about not addressing our rebounding woes. However, there’s a question I’d like to pose: With a team that had rebounding issues, didn’t we discover quickly that Kris Humphries was that rebounder we more or less needed behind Bosh? Andrea will undoubtedly improve his “under the basket” game, which may let him get into position for rebounds on a more consistent basis. Delfino, by all accounts, is a great rebounder with a nose for the ball, and Garbo was missing for the final 1/4 of the year, and should return to near-full strength. All of these things are well within reason of expectations, and with a possibility of Joey Graham shifting to PF, we may already have a better rebounding team than expected.

A final note about our newest Raptor. As a young player with improvements in almost single year of play, I think there’s a possible upside and development possibility for our newest addition. He’s the kind of guy Colangelo likes to take a little risk on, to see if his improvements will continue. Notice that in his stats lines, his rebounding has improved steadily, as has his free throw % and assists.

So now, with this signing, who’s up for trades?

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12 thoughts on “3’s, 3’s, 3’s. Get Your Smokin’ Hot 3’s

  1. I. I am up for no trades, unless it involves Joey Graham. By getting Kapono this not only leaves Peterson out of the mix but also Graham out of the rotation.

    For 6 million a season, he damn well better start 75 games a season at SF. lol

  2. lol i just looked and nice getting 6/32 right on the mock. I dont think I have seen anyone lower than a 8.

  3. Gagan – The possibilities are all the ending contracts. Joey, Hump, Dixon, though these are more likely to be moved by the season trade deadline instead. Rasho might also be dealt, but not without getting a centre in return. Jose, like I’ve said a billion times now, will only get traded to get a “finishing piece”. The kind that’s more or less a team changer, cause I think his value is just that high to the Raptors.

    NerdyGuy – I never did a mock draft

  4. NG – what mock are you talking about? The Great Blogger Mock? My picks were 2/2 on that… I can’t take the blame for the rest of the guys making bad picks 😛 Also, isn’t the first round just 30 picks, not 32?

  5. “Delfino, by all accounts, is a great rebounder with a nose for the ball”

    A great rebounder? He only averaged 3.2 rebounds per game last year and 2.4 over his career. He won’t hurt, but certainly is not a solution to the Raps’ rebounding problems…

  6. jgordner – Not looking at stats, but the last time I questioned his rebounding, the Pistons nation educated me on his ability. I think the stat will become inflated as his minutes increase from his Detroit days. 3.2 rebounds in less than 20 minutes of play is pretty good. And for our team, we don’t need a rebounder at the 4 or 5 positions… We need one at the 3.

  7. When I first read about this deal I let out a loud groan and after sleeping on it I’m still not sold. What is this team doing inking another gunner when they have that role filled with TJ, Parker, Jackson and Dixon? I would have preferred if the Raps had instead went after Mikki Moore or Andray Blatche, but, last summer I doubted BC’s moves which only proves that I’ll never be a NBA GM…

  8. Ryan – There are a couple criticisms I’ve read, that I kinda wanted to rebuke, but my writeup was too long as it was :p First point, with the exception of Parker, none of those guys are consistent threats from beyond the arc. (Anything below 40% is unacceptable to me: Dixon – .335, Ford – .314, Jackson – .356) In any case, when we got Delfino, we had a long discussion if Delfino was going to be our SF or SG player. I’ve conceded that I didn’t know his game well enough, and that he was a player that I assumed was a SG replacement. However, you turned me around, and I think he could be a good backup-to-starting SF next year, playing with Garbo/Graham. If I look at our lineup at the SG/SF position, I’m predicting it’ll look like:
    SF – Garbo/Delfino/Grahakm
    SG – Parker/Kapono/Dixon/Jackson
    As far as gunners were concerned, we saw at the end of last season (not just in the playoffs, but the final month) how hard the Raptors had against the zone and scoring. In my limited knowledge, there are only two ways to bust a zone. 1) slash and penetrate and 2) bomb from long distance. Although I think Dixon is a streaky shooter, a consistent shooter would have been even deadlier. Kapono gives that major upgrade that we need as far as a shooter off the bench (I’m assuming he’ll play off the bench most of this season). I’m not sold on Luke Jackson at all at this point, especially since he’s had so little burn on the team. Nevertheless, with Bargnani moving into the starting lineup, there’s a lot, LOT less shooting from the bench, and Kapono would help with that.
    I know that we need some rebounding, but honestly, I’m looking at Bosh+Bargs(if he improves)+Garbo+Delfino+Hump+Rasho (at times) and we have a fairly good rebounding team. It’s not exactly a traditional rebounding team, but I think it’s pretty good. The other thing I’m interested in seeing, is how much the coaching staff will be able to get Delfino to slash hard to the net, as he’s shown some ability to do from his time in Detroit.
    I’m just thinking that if the trend from late last year continues, and we see THAT much zone, we need a shooter who isn’t a liability on defense (Dixon, Jackson, and Graham all fall into this category of being a liability, either because of size or IQ) and I think Kapono solves that. There’s a couple of good posts on the RealGM board now (specifically this one), which just further reinforces my belief in this signing.

  9. Kapono should be a great fit for the Raptors. Colongelo is a 2 time Exec of the year and knows what he is doing in adding pieces that will fit and complement the Rap’s offense.
    Kapono is not just a 3pt shooter although that is his specialty.

    For ’06/07 his numbers indicate contribution in all areas.
    2FG 170/353 .48% – 3FG 108/210 .51% RB 2.7-Ast 1.2-FT .89%
    From what I’ve read he has become a decent team defender, but not one on one. When he has started,(35games) his PPG and RBG are higher 3.4rb & 13.3ppg. Would put him in Top 3/4 on Raptors

  10. Good write up. I’m pretty much in the same boat of feeling confused initially but gradually coming around on this signing. Neither MoPete, Graham, or Dixon was a consistent outside threat last year. If we stick Kapono and Parker out there teams will really pay when they double Bosh or rotate on PG penetration.

  11. Johnn19 – I agree. He’ll be our best secondary offensive threat behind Bargs and Bosh. It’s why I might see him play a lot of minutes, but come off the bench, just so that we can kick it up another gear, once he and Calderon enter the game. And I saw a lot of clips of dribble penetration with a pull up shot, which makes me really happy.

    Charles – Yeah. It took about a couple hours for me to turn around. He’s a huge shooter from all over the floor, who’s also a good size for a defender.

  12. He will be the guy that we hoped Mo Pete could have been. He will consistently hit his outside shots and he will have a better mid-range game. Mo always teased us with a semblance of a mid-range game. This guy should be deadly — Stojakovic-esque

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