Kapone-o Brings Hot Gunner to Toronto

Wow. In less than a week, the Jason Kapono signing has created a lot of controversy amongst many of the Raptors faithful. We here at HoopsAddict are kinda’ divided by the decision to sign him, but it seems that most of our commentators believe that there’s a high chance that this signing will work out.

Rather than further analyze this deal, I’d like to present a team picture of how I would set up the team. Granted, I know Sam Mitchell will have his own ideas, but let’s see if this lineup will be fine:

 

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Starters

TJ Ford

Anthony Parker

Jorge Garbajosa

Chris Bosh

Andrea Bargnani

2nd

Jose Calderon

Jason Kapono

Carlos Delfino

Kris Humphries

Rasho Nesterovich

Deep Bench

 

Juan Dixon

Luke Jackson

Joey Graham

 

With this kind of lineup, we can see that on the starting lineup, we have basically the same unit as last year. I don’t see a reason to break it apart until someone from the 2nd unit proves that they can push for starters minutes. I suppose you can move Kapono and Garbajosa, but honestly, who should start should matter very little. Anyways, here are my points about the team as constructed now:

Losing Bargnani from the 2nd unit means that if the 1st unit is not scoring properly, we require a 2nd unit presence in order to jump start the team. Delfino and Kapono will be able to operate as those “sparks” that every team needs off the bench. If we are moving around players, I’d much rather have Garbo switch with Delfino, so that there isn’t such a large loss of scoring from the bench.
Unless Joey can show somewhere that he’s now become a consistent player, he will not be allowed into the 2nd unit (unless there’s an injury). I think we’re all tired of having him display his routine, and no matter what he says (every year), it’s the same story. Yes, he can play at the PF position, as he’s shown in the playoffs and at the beginning of his career. However, in my opinion, Kris Humphries has earned that place behind Bosh, as long as he plays in control.
Everyone keeps talking about how Kapono is supposed to become our SF option. I’m not sure, but if this guy is a great outside threat, and is taking over Morris Peterson’s role, wouldn’t that make him a natural SG? I know he’s been listed as a forward and has played as such because Dwayne Wade was the Heat shooting guard, but come on now. I’ll recognize that if we need that extra scoring punch from the outside, he could play the “3” position, but it’s just not needed. And speaking of which, everyone keeps comparing Kapono to Peterson, who didn’t play much last year. We should instead be comparing him to Fred Jones/Juan Dixon, who he should be replacing in the lineup as Mo Pete was effectively not playing for most of last year. In either case, can you argue to me that Kapono won’t have a better shooting percentage than all three of those guys? And for that matter, how does anyone compare a career 45%+ 3pt shooter to below 40% shooters? It’s just amazing to me.
Carlos Delfino may have a breakout year. It’s in Delfino’s best interest to slash and get to the boards. As our SF option, and the feeling that I’m getting from many of the Detroit faithful, I’m actually predicting that he has the possibility of having a Leandro Barbosa-type of year, albeit, as a better rebounder, but worse shooter. He’s the kind of player that Bryan likes to take a little chance on, in a trade that doesn’t seem like much, until he gets in and just turns it on, full throttle. What will an increase in his minutes mean? Only time will tell, but I doubt that he will be as unsuccessful as Fred Jones. In the event that he is, his contract is extremely mobile. However, Delfino seems like a player that needs to be forced to play near the rim, so I am penciling him in at SF, unlike other sites who have Delfino and Kapono switched. Is this a big deal? I think so, especially when evaluating the moves made by Bryan.
Improvements internally, especially from Andrea Bargnani and TJ Ford. Let’s see. Chris Bosh has improved every year, but I believe he’s almost at his ceiling as far as his stats are concerned. We saw a huge jump in Calderon’s numbers, but I’m not sure how much more we can expect out of him. Then, AP, Garbo, Rasho, and the rest have pretty much hit their niche. Who’s left to improve? Well, I think it’s safe to say that we should expect a more consistent effort from Bargnani both as a shooter, and on the glass next season. Getting his strength back, improving his ball handling and reading of double teams will be essential on the offense side, and getting into rebounding position consistently, should be expected as well. He’s a bright guy, and he’s seen what Chris Bosh does. I’m sure he doesn’t like it that he’s not as good as Bosh is quite a few areas and will work on that. TJ Ford, on the other hand, needs to figure out his speed setting. Super high on defense, medium with quick bursts on the offense. We saw glimpses of a great dribble penetration jumper; now he needs to get it even more consistent. I think these are reasonable expectations of both players, and we should see a good improvement in our weak categories as a result.
A year together means no more slow start. Everyone’s worried about the Knicks, Boston and New Jersey. Yet, people keep forgetting that we had an awful first quarter of the year last year, especially with a 2-8 start. If we manage to retain a significant portion of our experience from last year, the defensive schemes can be improved on, and everyone will know their roles better. Most importantly, one of our smartest defenders, in Jorge Garbajosa, will have returned, at near full strength, and hopefully, with a lot of energy. 50 wins was within reach last year, and yet, we didn’t have a team identity for the first half of the year.

Call me an optimist, but I think most people are over analysing this one trade without the context of the previous Delfino acquisition. The clamors for the Raptors to trade for another athlete, or to produce a high draft pick only a week ago would have been detrimental to the developing team chemistry. Too often, as fans, we look at trades and acquisitions purely on a numbers factor. I’m sure that Bryan and others in the Raptors braintrust evaluated their acquisitions on other basis, such as team chemistry, contribution to the team philosophy, injury history, and willingness to play in Toronto. The stats game has been played, and over played especially in this situation, and I believe that once we have some time to see this team hit the floor together, we will be pleasantly surprised. I can’t wait for the new season to begin.

Only three months ’til pre-season!

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11 thoughts on “Kapone-o Brings Hot Gunner to Toronto

  1. excellent commentary: looking at the non-playing depth, its tough to argue that the Raps are not significantly improved over last year.
    Everyone who is down on the Kapono addition seems either to be thinking of MoPete from the year previous (strong) and not last year (inconsistent/poor), looking for other players (all too expensive e.g. Wallace or Lewis) or not as good (Caroll) or unavailable (Walton).

    First commentary I have read to link Kapono and Delfino — they are a package deal, that plus Bargs and Garbo being healthy changes the Raps back to one of the best teams in the East (as they were prior to the injury bug).

    Lots of reason for optimism. One more addition will be a banger off the bench to replace Sow/Slokar –maybe Skinner or Jackson or Ely.

  2. Thanks for the compliments. Honestly, I’m just confused at how everyone’s reacting to the whole situation. It’d be nice if we had a JYD-type of rebounder, to be honest, but that might not be possible with the selection that’s out there, and how much GMs might be asking for. I think that if you trade away Calderon to get a piece like that, you’re looking at rebuilding team chemistry all over again.

  3. I get headaches just thinking how Bargnani and Bosh would play together. Yes, they are two different players. But, still, are there enough touches? I am getting another headache….

  4. Good work! Anyway I will use Andrea as second unit with some teams… can you imagine them againt Wallace & Noah? 😛

  5. Gagan – I have questions about it too, since TJ tends to pass to Bosh exclusively. If things don’t change from last year, it may be a problem. Towards the end of last year, Bargnani was beginning to post players, but no one was getting him the ball. I think they’ll start him next to Bosh, but they MAY move him to the bench to balance scoring out between the units.

    Manel – Thanks! lol. Well, I don’t think Noah was a solution to the Bulls’ problems. I think we’ll see that the Bulls won’t match up well against the Raptors this year. But we’ll leave that for our season preview :p

  6. I read this in a Miami article about Kapono. A quote from Pat Riley to someone: ” What Kapono adds is that they will always stay home on him. If you watch us post up or play pick-and-rolls the guy who plays him never leaves him. That opens up the offensive plays for the others.”

    He will have the same effect for the Rap’s after he makes a few 3’s. Just the reputation and threat will be a benifit to free up space.

  7. Kapono is also not just a 3 point shooter. 65% of his shots last year were from inside the arc 15/18 ft.

    He started 35 games, 32mins, 49.6%fg, 51.5%fg3,3.4rb, 13.3ppg

    To start that many games most of them in Dec/Jan/Feb prior to his ankle injury where he was out for a month, he must have been fairly competent in Miami’s defensive schemes. When he returned he came off the bench for the last 9/10 games.

  8. Johnn 19 – Great points. But for now, I think if you move Kapono into the SF position in the starting lineup, you’re going to lose a LOT of scoring power from your bench. Now, I think he may get starters minutes since Garbajosa is recovering, and he’s not a spring chicken anymore, and for that matter, neither is AP. I just think he should be in the SG position rather than SF, but I guess AP/Garbo/Delfino/Kapono can all play SF/SG in some capacity, for certain games.

    In fact, I kind of see a lot of Bargnani’s outside game in Kapono… Able to make 3s and also step in slightly to make his own shot. I think his defensive ability (or lack thereof) has been greatly overblown as well. But I guess we’ll see.

  9. The more this signing sinks in the more I like it. Look at what Charlotte paid Matt Carroll last week? I’d rather have JK than MC!

    Here’s something to throw out there – whatever happened to PJ Tucker? Was he waived or just “demoted” to the D League team? After watching Paul Millsap play in the playoffs for Utah I can’t help but think that Tucker could provide a rebounding spark off the bench despite being vertically challenged. Now that Toronto’s fixed it need for a long range sniper I think their next move should be adding some rebounding help, something that Tucker could provide…

  10. Would a team like Phoenix or SA that’s looking for cap space deal one of their euro players for Joey Graham? Luis Scola’s deal would be worth around the same but would last 3-4 seasons while Graham could contribute next season and has an expiring contract. Besides, if the Spurs are willing to take the Red Rocket off our hands last summer for Rasho I’d like to think that BC could convince RC Buford into taking Graham.

    Just another idea I wanted to float out there…

  11. Ryan – lol. I’m glad you’ve come around.
    As for Tucker, I’m not sure. Reading into his ESPN comments this week, I doubt he’ll be happy returning to Toronto, as he was desperately looking for playing time. He was waved by Toronto once they wanted to pick up Luke Jackson the first time, in order to make a spot for Luke. I’m not sure where he’s going, but honestly, he should consider Europe, since I think his game would be better appreciated there.

    As for Graham, I think those deals would be good, but I think we’ll see Dixon, Graham and maybe Hump get moved at the All Star Break when teams want to get under the cap for the 08 signings. And I think Joey has the potential to increase his stock, which is why Bryan probably wants to hold onto him for a bit longer. But who knows. Things might get done. I’d be happy to go one for one for a kind of semi-risky rookie, as I think he’s a really redundant part at this point.

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