Can the Raptors find the balance of Bismack Biyombo and Jonas Valanciunas?
Will Barton's manager and mentor, Roland Cox aka RoLo, tells the story of how he first met Will Barton and his brother Antonio, and how Will became one of the best guards in the country.
Part of one of Will Barton's Protect the Family Series
After Steph Curry amazing game against the Thunder, the social media world attacked NBA legend Oscar Robertson for his comments about the NBA and Steph Curry. Robertson comments have been misconstrued and misinterpreted since he shared his opinion on Mike & Mike in the Morning earlier in the week, which is expected when you go against popular opinion.
So to help better understand the great Big O's comments and shake up the Steph Curry bandwagon a little bit more, let's breakdown a couple quotes from his banter.
First thing I would like to clear up is, Robertson did not bash Steph Curry. He never once said Curry is a bad player or not good. He simply said he is benefiting from bad defense, which is true.
Extending your defense is easier said than done but it's not a bad idea. Steph has proved that he has unlimited range, so extending it is not the end all be all to stopping him. What it could do is force him to take those 30-foot three pointers with a hand in his face, just to make it a little bit more challenging for him. The numbers show that Steph is 60% from shots 28+ feet but a lot of those shots are uncontested.
What I would like to see defenses doing is forcing him to drive to the basket. Steph also is a great ball handler so once again this is not a piece on how to stop Steph Curry, but more so looking at other ways to defend and possibly contain him. Watching teams defend him, it's rarely a point where I see the defense making it hard for him to score. Majority defenders, give up a lot of space and go under the pick and roll, which allows him to shoot uncontested shots.
Steve Kerr has done a good job with creating an offense that allows Steph to operate with and without the ball but I haven't seen many defenders make him work for his baskets.
Now in the Thunder game, prior to his memorable game winner from 30+ feet, Steph had already hit 11 three pointers and was hot like a firecracker. On the final possession, he received the ball on the opposite end of the court and graciously dribbled the ball to his sweet spot while Andre Robertson backpedaled up the court, not putting any pressure on Steph.
This is what Big O was talking about.
With 11 three pointers in the game, it's no reason for Curry to be able dribble up the court with no pressure and have enough space to have the option to pull-up from 30 feet out. Some say you don't expect players to pull up from 30 feet but Steph has been doing it all season. The numbers show he is more efficient than anybody when shooting over 30 feet. This isn't the first or the last time we seen him pull up from that far out. The shot was great and will be remembered for awhile but more pressure on the ball and that shot never goes up.
If Roberson meets Steph at half court or even further, it eliminates the option for him to pull from 30 feet. You're now forcing him to go by you or take a contested shot, which is not impossible for Steph to do but both are better than a wide open pull up 30-footer. On that shot, Steph was able to spot, step into it, all in rhythm with no disruption, and that's the last thing you allow a great shooter to do.
Many took this as a shot at Steph but I see it more as a shot to the media and fans of basketball. We are in an era where if you have one or two good seasons, then you're one of the greatest players ever. We see it every season, every month, every week, every day. Anytime a player does something we want to compare or rank among players who has already established themselves in NBA history.
It's a disrespect to the past.
For me, this is the most upsetting thing about the NBA, it's no middle ground when we critique players, we either put them at GOAT status or say they're overrated. We can never just appreciate the current moment.
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Raptors 905 fans got a chance to see the once college superstar Jimmer Fredette in action. 1,131 were in attendance to see the first meeting between the the Raptors 905 and Westchester Knicks , and every single one of those 1,131 were lucky to have been there.
14 lead changes, 10 ties, a combined 3 double doubles, and a combined 11 players in double figures scoring.
In the end, the 905 came short as the Westchester Knicks walked out of Mississauga with a 107-101 victory. The Knicks were led by Jimmer Fredette’s 21 points and Sean Marshall contributed 20 points off the bench. Despite the 905 allowing the Knicks to score 107 points on 49% shooting, there was clearly effort shown by the 905, especially in the half court sets.
“I think they’ve put three games together of high energy and effort and that’s a good step in the right direction.” Said Coach Jesse Mermuys on his team.
Considering the last three games, every fan should agree with Mermuys. In their last three games they have had these results: 101-80 win over the Erie Bayhawks, a 95-96 heartbreaker against the Maine Red Claws, and a 107-101 war that ended up going Westchester’s way.
Jimmer Fredette did not really amount to much in the NBA, but in the D-League he is tearing it up. This game marks the 6th 20+ point game for Jimmer in the D-League this season… considering he’s only played 7 games, that’s pretty good. Fredette’s 7/14 shooting is a major reason why the Westchester Knicks shot 49% from the field.
Side note: Shout out to Jordan Bachynski, the Canadian kid out of Arizona State who posted a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Westchester Knicks
What about the 905? There were a lot of positives for the 905.
Delon Wright had an impressive 18 points and 10 assists. He was one of five 905 players with double-digit points (Toupane 18, Roberts 21, Suggs 11, Johnson III 18 were the others). I am not a “glass half full” or a “moral victory” kind of guy, however, the 905 has reasons to be excited and Roland Roberts should be one of them. When asked if he thought anyone could stop him he responded with an interesting and truthful way.
“To be honest, no. I wouldn’t lace up and play the way I do everyday if I thought that.”
More often than not, when a question like this is posed, a player will give the cookie cutter answer but Ronald Roberts gave an answer that I absolutely loved for two reasons.
One, it’s the attitude a person should have when doing anything in life, and two, if you take look at his stats, you can see he is right. A double-double from Roberts is almost expected at this point, but a 21 point, 20 rebound game at 6’8 is absolutely impressive. Anyone who says “I was too small to play basketball” go buy a ticket at the next game at the Hershey Centre and watch Roberts play. He is intense, gritty, strong, and full of energy. Mix those qualities with the skill level he has and it is no wonder why he is averaging a double-double this season (15.3 points 12.7 rebounds).
It was not all rainbows and sunshine for the 905. The Raptors 905’s Achilles heel all season long has been turnovers and once again the 905 turned the ball over a head scratching 21 times.
“Until I can figure out how I can help these guys stop turning the basketball over, were going to have a lot of nights where we’re on the losing side,” Coach Mermuys said about their turnover issue. “If you give up 32 points on [turnovers], it’s just hard to overcome that.”
The saying ‘turnovers are for bakeries’ was not just created for fun. The 905 have to be kicking themselves for their turnover issues because in this game and many games this season, it costed them victories. The 905 can surely improve on their turnover issues and the D-League is definitely the place to do it.
Next game for the 905 is Wednesday December 16th against the Grand Rapids Drive. The Raptors 905 look to avenge their 128-99 loss over the Grand Rapids Drive in their first meeting. Tipoff is at 7:30 eastern time.
The Raptors 905 got their first taste of "The Six" as they were host to the Maine Red Claws. in front of thousands of children, accompanied by their teachers of course, took the trip downtown to the Air Canada Centre.
MISSISSAUGA, ON --- The Raptors 905 got out to a quick 14-4 lead in the opening quarter but from then on it was all Grand Rapids Drive.
The Grand Rapids Drive whether it was in the paint or on the perimeter, won in every facet of the game. They led 76-43 at halftime and went on win 128-99.
The Grand Rapids drive were led by Darrun Hilliard 31 points and a 21 point performance from Devin Ebanks. The contributions from other Drive players was also evident on the scoreboard as Lorenzo Brown, Ryan Boatright and Dahntay Jones scored 17, 16 and 13 respectively.
The Raptors 905 drop to 2-6 on the season. After the game, Raptors 905 coach Jesse Mermuys said this on his teams play.
“There were a lot of disappointing things, I think the most disappointing things was that it was a losing effort and it was a team losing effort.”
That describes the whole game for the Raptors 905. The 905 were not only beat by the Grand Rapids drive on the scoreboard but also in the important statistical categories. They were beat in points in the paint 68-50, field goal percentage 50.5-47.4, and three-point percentage 39.1-29.2, when that happens a loss is inevitable. Also, giving up 128 points does not help either.
Scott Suggs, who had 19 points, had this to say about the team’s effort when asked what was disappointing about the game.
“…Not a real good defensive effort, we knew they were a team that like to push the ball and that was our big focus in practice this week and we just didn’t carry it over to the game today.”
Over the last couple games there has been some defensive issues. Against the Delaware 87ers the 905 gave up 125 points and the perimeter defense is mostly to blame. In the last 2 games the 905 have allowed 3 perimeter players to score 30+ points (Jordan McRea 31, Sean Kilpatrick 37 and Darrun Hilliard 31).
While that is a small sample size, it does cause concern. This is definitely coach Mermuys and his staff will be focusing on this week.
In addition to that it seems that rim protection might be a problem as well going forward. The 905 have 7’4 Sim Bhullar to their advantage but on their rotation, they tend to go to 6’8 Ronald Roberts. While Roberts is a strong basketball player on both sides of the floor, he is still only 6’8 and that does not necessarily scream intimidation in the d-league.
One bright spot going forward was the play of Keanau Post. The 6’11 forward dropped 14 points in the game. Look to see Keanau Post to see more playing time at the center position to give the 905 more size off the bench.
One theme that we see from the 905, whether win or loss, is that the 905 can score.
Five 905 players scored double digits (Scott Suggs 19 points, Delon Wright 15 points, Keanau Post 14, Melvin Johnson III 10 and Jay Harris 10). This came in spite of their 23 turnovers in the game. While that was a negative for the game, the fact the 905 can score nearly 100 points and turn the ball over 23 times is a positive going forward. Turnovers is relatively easy thing to fix for a basketball team, which means if the 905 can keep the turnovers down then I can see the 905 be an offensive nightmare for opposing defenses.
The defense does need to be put back on the right track. They will have a change to fix that issue on December 9thagainst the Erie Bayhawks. Tip-off starts 7:30.