Monday, December 28, 2009
The Raptors have won 4 straight games. They are also 8-4 since starting the season 7-13. This has caused some to propose drastic personnel maneuvers involving one of Toronto's franchise players.
I'm speaking of Jose Calderon. Toronto's improved play has led to many people saying Jarrett Jack should continue to start at point guard even when Calderon returns. Here is my response to this suggestion:
Consider: During this 8-4 stretch, the Raptors have played four teams with a winning record. They are 1-3 against those teams. The three losses were by a combined 61 points. In those 4 games against quality competition, Jack averaged 12 points and 4 assists per game, and was a combined -14.
So what exactly is the rush to alienate a player under contract for multiple seasons at big dollars? Is Jose Calderon playing at his best this season? No. Should the Raptors have expected him to be at his best after forcing him to sit out of international action all off-season? No.
Here are Toronto's wins during this stretch: Washington, Chicago, Minnesota, Houston, New Jersey, New Orleans, and Detroit (twice). This team has yet to beat a team with a winning record on the road this season.
What is everything I've just said above? Context.
If I were strictly a numbers guy (as many of you probably think I am), then technically, I should be all for this Jack as the starting point guard movement. Jack is a +57 at the point this year, Calderon is a -93 (giving a net difference between the two of 150 points). I don't think the easy schedule explains away all of that net difference... however, there are other factors (injuries, rust, etc...). And given the contract situation, and just the fact that Calderon is a better player, I think you need to stay the course with your original starter.
THE ENIGMA THAT IS SONNY WEEMS
He can't shoot. His handle doesn't even look that nice. He can D up reasonably well. Somehow that all adds up to a great performance. During this winning streak (and yes, all those caveats about Jack apply here as well), Weems has been a plus in each game... leading to a combined plus/minus of +54 (3rd on the team during that time, and best among reserves).
His game is admittedly tough to figure out. It's hard to understand how someone that is obviously athletic, has a fairly high basketball IQ, and has decent touch (as evidenced by his alley-oop passes) can't seem to hit a 15-foot jumper consistently.
STAT OF THE DAY
(courtesy of 82games.com)
Back to my point about the Raptors really not showing much during these winning times. Toronto has played 32 games this season.
Here is how their record breaks down when you separate their opponents by net points (for-against):
vs Top 10 teams: 1-11
vs 11th-20th teams: 2-5
vs 21st-30th teams: 11-1
So, the Raptors are 3-16 against the top 20 teams in the NBA, but they're dominating the really crappy teams...... YAY!!!!
FYI: Toronto's next 6 games:
vs San Antonio
Absolute best case is 3-3. More likely to be 2-4 or 1-5... giving the team a 17-21 record nearly halfway through the season.
And they're going to alienate their point guard over that!