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Q&A With RaptorsHQ - Part Deux

The first Q&A I did this year was with RaptorsHQ and since the C's are traveling to the Great White North Friday night, I figured I should check in with our Canuck friends once again.

First, my questions for RaptorsHQ: 

1. Who is Jamario Moon and how does Colangelo keep finding these guys?

tor.gif First off, so funny how Jamario Moon has the league buzzing right now. This is a player I actually got to see work out for the Raptors in their pre-draft free-agent camp this summer (Toronto held the camp as they had no draft picks last year) and he was an obvious stand-out. The local media was quick to say that the fight for the 15th spot between Moon and Luke Jackson was meaningless but I as I discussed in pre-season, I really thought Jamario could come in and surprise some folks. By no means did I even envision him being a starter or having this sort of impact, but just like former project Pape Sow, it's hard not to be intrigued by raw athletic ability...especially since this team has been devoid of it at the wing position since Vince Carter decided he'd rather come off the bench for New Jersey.

{styleboxjp width=300px,float=right,color=black,textcolor=white,echo=yes} In any event, Moon was actually an early entry into the NBA draft who is your prototypical "player who fell through the cracks" story.{/styleboxjp} He and Gerald Wallace were the two best players in Alabama, where he played his amateur ball, and while Wallace found his way to Sacramento, Moon had to make his way through various development leagues and even enjoyed a stint with the Harlem Globe Trotters! Eventually he played in the CBA for the Albany Patroons where his defensive presence and athletic ability caught the attention of some scouts, including some from the Raptors. He then got the invite to the free agent camp, beat out Luke Jackson for the final spot on the team's roster, and the rest as they say is history.

How BC keeps finding these guys is another story. He's probably the best GM in the league at recognizing talent that's being under-utilized (Boris Diaw, Raja Bell, Carlos Delfino, Moon...even Nash to an extent) but this one I think even he'd admit was a bit more of a chance thing.

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2. Your record is not as good as I might have thought at the beginning of the season, but a quick look at your W's and L's shows me that you've lost to mostly very good teams (Magic, Mavs, Suns, and of course the C's).  Still, to be the best you have to beat the best.  What is keeping this team from beating the best teams in the league?

Great observation. I too thought Toronto would have been making the race with Boston to the Atlantic Division crown a lot closer but the team has had issues early in the season. Perhaps the biggest issue has been injuries and this has brought forth other problems. It's tough to get a team on the same page and get chemistry going, especially if you have 15 guys who can all step in and play on any given night, when key players are out. Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Jorge Garbajosa, TJ Ford and even Rasho Nesterovic have all missed chunks of the season so far and the word today is that Bosh and Bargs won't be travelling to Boston. So once again, Toronto is going into a key match short-handed.

{styleboxjp width=300px,float=right,color=black,textcolor=white,echo=yes}The other thing I think that people forget is that this is still a very young team.{/styleboxjp} Chris Bosh is looked at as the elder on the club and he's only been of legal age for a few years! As a result, players are still forging their identities, learning the game and sometimes still looking lost in games. The two blowout losses Toronto has suffered, Milwaukee and Orlando, were perfect examples of this.

I think if the Raps can get healthy again though for a stretch, you'll see the record improve.
3. Toronto is heralded as a "deep" team.  To fans, that translates loosely to "we'll be arguing about the rotations all year long."  So how's that working out for you?  Are roles being clarified or muddier by the minute? 

You hit this nail right on the head! Before the recent injury streak, the depth was starting to look like a bit of a problem as there was not much rhyme or reason to rotations and it was obvious that Sam Mitchell was still trying to figure out just what he could get from different guys. And yep, this meant our site was chalk full of rotation arguments. The dominant one was at small forward before Jamario Moon locked it down and now it's the never ending point guard discussion concerning TJ Ford and Jose Calderon.

However over the past few games we've really seen the value of the team's depth at last. Players roles are much more defined and with the exception of perhaps Juan Dixon, guys know in what type of situations they may be needed and have come ready to play. Even in Wednesday night's loss to Phoenix the team still put up 123 points without Bosh, Garbs or Bargnani! The Suns just didn't miss but it's been encouraging to see the bench step up in the stars' absence.

So we'll see what happens tonight against Boston. Toronto is obviously under-manned but I expect the team to still put up a good fight.

Now for RaptorsHQ's questions for me: 

1. The Celtics have only two losses this year so far and only a few games that have been close. Do you think this is due to the Celtics' play, or has it been a reflection of the relative weakness of their schedule?

{styleboxjp width=300px,float=right,color=black,textcolor=white,echo=yes} The Celtics are the best team ever, why even play the games? {/styleboxjp} Just hand us the title now and we'll raise the banner and we can save ourselves all the hassle of the 82 game schedule and playoffs and all that. Works for me. No? We have to play the games? Ok, if you insist.

The schedule has been pretty tame but when it has been tough, the team has come through (we swept all 3 of our back-to-backs). And yes, this team is really, really good. The bench has been better than advertised (though nothing to bank on), the health has been good so far (knock on wood), and there have been no issues with egos (not that I expected there to be, but some threw that out there early on).

2. How has the Rajon Rondo experiment been going? Do you still think this team needs to make a deal to get a more experienced player at the 1?

Mostly good. He's still young, so there will be games when Doc will yank him for letting an opposing player get past him on dribble penetration (which is odd since his calling card has always been defense). Still, he's got all the tools and a lot of the smarts to be a very good to possibly great point guard. He just has to keep learning and growing. He's improved his mid range jump shot tremendously, but he still has to learn better when to use it. That will come.

Also, for the time being, the combo of Eddie House and Tony Allen playing combo guard minutes has given us a surprisingly good mix in the backcourt. They aren't point guards, but they get the ball across halfcourt and get it in the hands of the big three and let them do their thing. Plus Eddie brings instant offense and Tony brings defense and relentless (if sometimes rudderless) dribble drives. So far it works.

3. If Bosh and Bargnani can't go, do you think the Raptors can mount much of a stand against the Big 3?


Ok, I guess you wanted more than that. Umm, lets just say that the Cavs didn't have LeBron and they made things interesting the other day. Anything can happen, especially if your three pointers are falling. Games like this tend to be quirky and hard to gameplan for. It should be fun to see what happens.

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