Friday, December 30, 2011

Fantasy Friday - A Bench Gem In Both Worlds

Every Friday, we'll be bringing you some fantasy notes and tidbits exclusively from a Toronto Raptors perspective. We're well aware that not many people were sweating bullets on draft night, hoping that a Raptor wasn't picked before their pick came up, but the Raps do have that sleeper potential that could be the difference maker in winning your fantasy league championship.

This week, we've got to bring up the man that best represents the change in culture the Raptors are trying to undergo - James Johnson. The athletic wing was probably left undrafted in just about every fantasy league, but he's absolutely stuffed the stat sheet the first two games.

At the moment, he has lofty small forward averages in most categories with 5.5 pts, 7.0 reb, 3.5 ast, 4.0 stl, 2.0 blks, 45% FG.

The fact that he's also logging in heavy minutes despite coming off the bench means he'll have the opportunity to keep racking up the stats. The only knock on him is you'd like to see him put up a few more points, but considering fantasy basketball is won on categories, Johnson is a gem if you have room on your bench.

If you're in a 12+ team league, definitely pick him up and use him in spot situations late in the week, when you're trying to catch up or protect your rebounds, steals, or blocks.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

DeMar Tebow

In the last two games, for the Raptors, quite a few things have been consistent. For starters, the effort has been there. The Raps may not be the most talented, but that's two straight games where I've seen dives to the floor for a loose ball. Secondly, the improved help defense, especially by James Johnson and Ed Davis.

And then there's DeMar DeRozan, who has been consistently inconsistent. In the first three quarters, DeMar has shown a lack of confidence, and at times, looks completely lost. He's been a big part of why the Raps are unable to get their offense going early. And when the only other scoring option in the starting line up gets in foul trouble like Bargs did last game, even an improved defense can't save the team,

Here are DeRozan's averages in the first three quarters in comparison to the 4th quarter.

QRT 1-3

5/15 FGA


Average Amount of Pts In First Three Quarters Combined: 6.0


11/ 13 FGA


Average Amount of Pts in Fourth Quarter: 12.5

We'll see if this small sample size turns into a trend for Mr. No Props Needed.

What caught my eye? The Raptors opened up the game with six straight stops on the defensive end. Unfortunately, they were unable to capitalize on it on offense due to poor offensive sets and moving screens, but it was a nice change to see us work hard on the defensive end.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Raptors Revisited: The Bargnani Effect

On Monday, January 26, 2011, the Toronto Raptors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 104-96.

Like noted in yesterday's post, the duo of Jose and Amir were able to pick apart Cleveland's interior defense with a healthy dose of pick and rolls. However, a big reason why it worked so well (besides the fact that the Cavs paint D isn't the most intimidating) is because of the dynamic Bargnani brings to the table.

Let's take a look at two plays that begin with a Calderon-Johnson pick and roll and end with an easy bucket partly because of where Bargnani positions himself on the court.

Jose and Amir initiate the pick n roll, while the Raptors keep both corner 3s occupied, establishing proper spacing. The key thing to watch is Jamison on Bargnani.

Irving goes over the screen due to Jose's hot hand, causing Varejao to leave Amir and switch to Jose. At this point (and due to Cleveland's lack of a shot blocking big), Jamison as the 4 man is caught between switching to Amir or staying on Bagrs

Jamison decides to stay near the perimeter with Bargnani, allowing Amir an easy uncontested basket.

Here's the second play, same concept, same result.

A switch is caused for Varejao on Jose, and Amir again rolls to the basket. Again, Jamison as the Cavs' 4, is assigned with shading Bargs near the top of the 3 point line.

As mentioned by Leo Rautins last night, Irving incorrectly commits himself to Calderon even though Varejao did a good job of leading Jose to the sideline on the hedge. This makes Jamison's job even more difficult when deciding between a wide open Amir or a wide open Bargnani.

Jamison decides to stick with Andrea at the perimeter, allowing Amir to get yet another easy bucket over the shorter Anthony Parker..

Monday, December 26, 2011

Jose-Amir 2K12 Lead Pass Cheese And Accountability


With Dwane Casey preaching a culture change of a defensive mentality, Raptors fans can expect a team that won't necessarily be the most talented, but will always try to out work the opposition.

Last night against Cleveland, we saw just that. Make no mistake, this team doesn't look like it will challenge for a playoff spot, but it was great to see some of our players compete. Two that stuck out the most to me were Amir Johnson and Jose Calderon. Amir looked like he was serious about his Defensive Player of the Year goals, and Jose looked like TJ Ford was on his tail again.

And then of course, there was that pass...Anyone who's ever played a game of NBA 2K knows the way to a win is to abuse the paint with some lead passing. Check out 4:30-5:30 of this video to see what Jose and Amir had perfected last night.

What caught my eye? At 4:40 of the 3rd quarter, Bargnani gave up yet another offensive rebound, and at a critical point of the game as well. Immediately, Coach Casey subs in Ed Davis and puts Bargs on the bench. Accountability will key in truly changing the culture of this franchise.