So…spent the last couple of days watching pre-Olympic ski-cross which has cut into my blogging opportunities here, but it doesn't mean I'm not thinking Raptors!
In fact, I was listening to Adrian Wojnarowski on The Fan as I was driving home from Blue Mountain, and the discussion turned to Chris Bosh. Since Wojnarowski is one of the best NBA writers out there, he made the point that even if Bosh is a 1A star and not an absolute top-tier franchise guy, the Raptors have to do everything they can to resign him.
Naturally, I agree, and I refer back to the point I've made on this blog and in this column last week: The effort MLSE makes in re-signing Bosh - which will require from them a commitment to add talent and pay oodles of luxury tax to do it, I think - will neatly lay out for Raptors fans what kind of ownership MLSE is really ready to provide.
Do they want to sell their fans memories long with over-priced tickets, food and merchandise? If so they'll pay the freight which in the NBA means paying the luxury tax. The Dallas Mavericks are heading for their 10th straight 50-win season with a 1A star because their owner wants to have a chance to spray champagne. Will Dallas ever win an NBA title? Who knows, but they've had fun trying, haven't they?
If they don't want to pay the tax they'll make noise about paying Bosh, he'll walk and MLSE will provide the best team they can while not paying the luxury tax. At that point the realistic ceiling becomes 50 wins or so. Maybe.
The good news is Raptors fans will know pretty sure where everyone stands in the next six months or so.
Relevance, relevance. Right.
Okay: Wojnarowski said one definition of a true franchise player is "someone who can win the first round of a playoff series pretty much by themselves."
Bosh probably isn't that guy, or maybe not in the way we're accustomed to thinking. I was turning the idea over in my head as I watch Bosh play his heart out, pretty much on his own, last night against the Bucks. Forty-four points on 26 shots is pretty amazing production, don't you think? And given none of his teammates showed up, it was necessary to even keep the Raptors in the game. But in the end they lost the game.
So if scoring an efficient 44 points can't help your team beat the Milwaukee Bucks in January is it realistic to think Bosh can lift the Raptors to an upset over the Atlanta Hawks in May?
No way right?
Ah, but this is where it's always handy to be able refer to Chris Black at T.Jose Calderford who, in response to a reader question came up with a really interesting breakdown of how Bosh's breakout games translate into wins.
First of all the Raptors are 8-10 when Bosh scores 35 or more and 1-4 when he scores more than 40 and 5-6 when he takes 25 shots or more. Going back to the 05-06 season, Black wonders:
- Is there a magic number from Bosh's perspective that will lead to wins? A stat that, if he hits, will ensure victory? Is it when he's aggressive driving to the hoop? Nope... the team is 15-17 when Bosh has 15 free throw attempts or more
- Is it when he's looking to find his teammates offensively? Nope... the team is 21-21 when Bosh has 5 assists or more
- Is it when he's crashing the glass offensively? Nope... the team is 20-31 when Bosh has 5 offensive rebounds or more
- Is it when he's cleaning up the glass on both ends? Not bad.... the team is 20-16 when Bosh has 15 rebounds or more
- Is it when he's selectively picking his spots offensively? Pretty, pretty, pretty good... the team is 46-26 when Bosh shoots 60 per cent from the field or better
Got to Black's site to read the whole post. Surprisingly He's not convinced that the 60-per-cent threshold is all that convincing, though it looks pretty good to me especially when you control for the Raptors record during that stretch - about 25 games under .500, or thereabouts.
But he does come up with some data that suggest that Bosh's performance can be correlated pretty closely to team success. Most significantly it's a phantom number (let's face it, most of them are, but it's fun) that I agree with in that it suggests the key for the Raptors success isn't more scoring from Bosh.
The premise is that Bosh playing more like he did for the U.S. Olympic team - hustling, ball-hawking, defending in addition to score - could have an impact for the Raptors come playoff time.
Anyway, interesting reading.
Also: thanks for the feedback on the mid-term report cards. Most of the quibbles were with Amir Johnson getting a C+. I guess my answer is I graded on a bit of a curve - how close are these guys to reaching their ceiling? And I think we can agree that Johnson has more to give, if only by staying on the court more which he can do by fouling less. Similarly with Andrea: Might he deserve a B+? Maybe, but in my book the kid is still just hinting at what he can really do. Until he approaches that by continuing to rebound better and putting the defence in tough situations by attacking in the post more, it's going to be hard for him to grade out above a B.