Tuesday, February 23, 2010

With A Side Of Red [The Marco Polo Edition] - Feb.23/10

Aright, for those of you that have read my work before, you know that whenever I put a "With A Side Of Red" piece together, it doesn't involve any statistical breakdowns. I like to stay away from that stuff and keep it simple in this particular column of the GamePoint Blog, but I just couldn't resist today. I had an entire entry written about Marco Belinelli before somehow losing it...To be fair though, I won't go into as much detail about the topic from a stat perspective, because well - I don't want to remind you of algebra class.

Anyways, let's do this. Here's you favorite side dish to whatever it is you're doing.

First off the bat, let's start this snow covered Tuesday right. A fresh and youthful take on the Toronto Raptors is what this blog is all about, and I can't get anymore fresh and youthful than with this next piece of news.

Please tell me you guys know what that is. Hint: It's only the most famous sports video game loading screen of the 90s. That's NBA JAM! And it's being remade by EA Sports for old and new fans alike.

The bad news? It will be exclusively for the Wii. That's no jab at Nintendo, I just don't own one. Of course, I'm pretty sure I'll be tempted to grab the console once the game is released.

The Good news? The Toronto Raptors will be on it this time around. How sweet is that? Now, everything's all about the community, so EA Sports has nicely taken the fans into consideration. As the potential buyers of this game, they're letting us choose which players will be selected to represent their respective teams. And this week, the Raptors are up. So what are you waiting for? Even if you won't get the game, help the Raps become one of the more fun teams to play with. Here's the link:

Vote In Your Raptors Squad For NBA JAM

NBA JAM Before


Now, where in the world did that Italian sharpshooter's minutes go? And no I'm not talking about the taller one, apparently he's the "Defensive Stopper" (well at least that's what I think I heard Leo Rautins call him). No - I'm talking about the one and only Marco Belinelli. Hands up if you forgot he even played for the Raptors in the last few games? Yeah, me too.

In the last 5 games, Marco has gotten 3 DNP-CDs (Did not play, coach's decision). In the 2 games he did play, these were his stats:

PHI: 10 min, 0 pts, 2 reb, 1 ast, 0/5 shooting
NJ: 9 min, 1 pts, 0 reb, 2 ast, 0/1 shooting

Contrary to the belief of some of your friends, Marco Belinelli is and can be useful to this team. Unfortunately, he has to compete with a group of swingmen that include:

DeMar DeRozan (The Raptors are heavily invested into their lottery pick rookie)
Hedo Turkoglu (A 50 million dollar contract is always hard to beat in the rotation)
Antoine Wright (Arguably our most consistent swing both on offense and defense)
Sonny Weems (Consistent jumper, good defender, and always injects energy into the game)

Yes, he has been inconsistent. Yes, his unnecessary fadeaway jumper makes you want to throw something at your TV. But don't get it twisted, Marco has played SIGNIFICANT roles in the most of the Raptors' biggest games. Can anyone else say Marco wasn't a big reason why we were able to keep up with the Lakers and eventually win the game? I don't think so. He was key down the stretch. Also, take this into account. Against the Big 4 of the Eastern Conference (Cleveland, Orlando, Boston, Atlanta), this is what Belinelli is averaging in games that he played at least 1 minute in:

10 games
18.4 minutes
9.2 pts
1.4 ast
1.2 reb
12/22 from 3pt (55%)
36/75 from field (48%)

Believe it or not, but that's HUGE for someone who comes off the bench for around 18 minutes a game. It's basically a certainty that the Raps will end up playing one of those teams in the first round of the playoffs. And I believe if we're going to stand a chance, then Marco needs to find his game again.

LASTLY, I want to leave you guys on a good note, a shinning glimmer of hope in regards to the Chris Bosh and free agency drama. Here's an article from NBA.Com that has CB4's biggest hint about what may just happen this off-season. I won't spoil it for you, so check it out here:

NBA.Com - Free agency story won't end the way we think, says Bosh

ALSO, before I go, I'd like to give a big THANK YOU to two groups of people. The first being the good folks at RaptorsRepublic for putting up some of my articles on their website in the last week. They surely don't have to, I realize that, and I don't expect it to be a norm. But as an author of a totally irrelevant blog in the grand scheme of things, it means a lot and makes this 100x more fun.

The second THANK YOU goes out to everyone who voted for me in the Pros Vs. Joes Raptors Debate Tournament brought to you by Whotheman.com. I'm one round away from a dream battle with phdsteve of RaptorsRepublic in the finals. Win or loss, that would be a great experience for me. Keep the support flowing through!

Whatever it is you're doing Raptors fans, I hope you enjoyed it With A Side Of Red!

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