Saturday, July 14, 2007

Al Kapono

Unlike last year when it seemed every week of the summer had a new raptor signing to talk about, this summer of course is much smaller in activity for our Raptor team. Still been more then I expected, but last year we were talking Bargani and Ford and Parker and Garbo and Rasho and Tucker and Fred Jones. This year, it is Delfino and Kapono. Sure there is a few other project players that will be discussed, but I think it would be wise to give my thoughts on the major transaction which involved the best 3 point shooter in the league last year.

Right off the bat, getting the best at something is pretty damn good for the growth of any team. The rate that Kapono can hit, not just threes, but shots period is insane. On they have a newer feature that allows you to view any players "hot zones". Basically a half court diagram that is split into different sections and shows the percentage that player shot from each of those spots. And if they shoot a high percentage, that spot is red. Low percentage is blue while average percentage is grey. Most players have 2 or 3 reds, 2 or 3 blues and the rest grey. Kapono has about 13 of the 14 red and the other is grey. This guy can shoot!

Don't think for a second anyone is going to leave him open for a shot, so who are they going to use to double Bosh? Are they going to leave Parker open? Or Bargani? If Kapono starts, the Raptors will avg over 100 points a game reletively easy just based on the number of weapons they have. I know some critics (including me) said we needed a slasher for the Small Forward spot and I doubt Kapono is that. But this is a new year, and I think that slasher is going to be in the form of Parker. Roles change every year, and his role last year is going to be modified this year. And I feel that will including getting to the net on a nightly basis.

So what else did the raps need? Rebounding! Is Kapono going to help there? Not really. Although he did have a few 10 plus rebounding games during last season, there was many many more 1 or 2 boards in a game to counter that. So to the rebound issue, all I have to say is that for 5 plus million, he better be working on other skills besides shooting. Every year, players are expected to improve so I am more then willing to give him a chance to show if he can contribute on a regular basis in the rebounding department. 5-7 a game average will be fine with me. Because one other reason I am not worried about the boards so much is that we do have another player taking a step up in the starting line-up who we should be expecting to produce the stats. Our favorite Italian, Ill Mago. I will bet my life saving that they are prepping that kid to become a rebounding machine for next year. It's him and Bosh now taking care of the paint. And he is going to have to step up in all areas.

Defense, well I heard that Kapono is decent, maybe not much in the one on one department but can hold his own on most nights. But this is where my fear lies. Garbo was our starting small forward for most of last year, and I remember specifically the night at the ACC when the raps SMOKED the nuggets badly! Up by 30 in the first half kinda smoked. And Carmelo had about 2 points by half time. Who was covering Carmelo with very little help? Now can Kapono do that? If Garbo was covering Jefferson in the playoffs, then Garbo would have been helping covering Lebron in round 2. That is the truth! Kapono might be a better shooter then Garbo, but we did pretty good with Garbo in the starting line-up.

Kapono will need to show more then just a good shooting percentage to start on this team. Can he do it? I don't have any reason to think he couldn't. Miami is a different system then Toronto and hopefully the change in that, as well as the new responsability of a 5 million dollar pay cheque will bring out the extra skills that we require to make that push into the finals.
Was Kapono a bad pick up? Of course not. Is he worth the money? If he produces a photo copy of last years production, no. But I do expect inprovement. Let's just hope its enough.


NYCGATORfan said...

Kapono is a decent signing but he isn't a great one. Don't just assume that having Kapono allows the Raptors to put up 100 points plus and have the Raptors become significantly better than they were last year.

When good defenses game plan and slow the game down, where are the Raptors going to get their tough points from? If I remember, the Raptors offense had a lot of trouble getting clutch baskets against Nerw Jersey.

Will Kapono get easy baskets? No. He requires other teammates to set him up for open jumpers.

The Raptors are still little more than a finesse jump shooting team, except for T.J. Ford who still can't finish or make a jumper. And he isn't great at setting up teammates either.

The Raptors will almost assuredly make the playoffs, but they have a lot of work to do if they want to win a playoff series.

NYCGATORfan said...

I mean look at the starting lineup you proposed (Ford, Parker, Kapono, Bosh, Bargnani) Defensively, there are 3 outright liabilities on defense. Bosh can erase some mistakes but he'll also pick up a ton of fouls. So either Bosh will be hindered with foul trouble, the Raptors will be giving up a slew of layups, or one of those starters has to be benched.

Offensively, who can break defenses down? Ford can with his quickness, but teams can just go under screens with him and he'll brick jumpers. He'll also commit his share of mistakes, and if a good defense rotates, he'll miss contested layups.

Bargnani can when he gets older but he still needs experience.

Parker can, but he usually needs set plays as he isn't an uber-athlete who gets his own shots off.

Their are a lot of other options with the roster though. Kapono can curl off weakside Bosh screens all game long...but so can Bargnani, Garbojosa, Parker, and Delfino. It isn't as if Kapono adds another dimension to the offense.

Just brainstorming here, I'm thinking of possible players dealt or not resigned that could add that other dimension to Toronto. Jason Richardson definitely, but his contract is enormous so we'll scratch that. What about simply resigning Mo Pete? Sure he has his flaws, but he can do more for a team than Kapono can?

Mad Child said...

As far as defensive liabilities are concerned, there is the combo of ford/jose. During the nets series, kidd was handling ford with his size, but jose did a much better job. Its going to be an issue of match-ups with them ( see my ford vs. jose thing) Bosh got into foul trouble against the nets, and there is no doubt in my mind it was a case of the nets having a good game plan and bosh being nervious/playoff inexperience. One thing watching the raps this year in the playoffs taught me was that experience really is a big key to the whole thing. Bosh can play defense, the only issue he has is going up on pump fakes.

And Ford can hit hit jumpers, i think he went 7 for 8 in the second quarter vs the nets in game 6. Its just a matter of him improving which he did as the season went on. I think the key here is that fact that I am expecting them to improve over the off season.

AS for kapono, again, trade kapono for pape sow, and i will take it. And its going to give us more options and weapons. Please name me one player that we COULD have gotten that would be better then the best three point shooter in the league? Yes gerald wallace and jason richardson would have been nice, but it was not going to happen..which player could have we gotten to help out? Did we over pay kapono, yeah, but colangelo even said we were going to have to over pay to get the guy we wanted. Better we get the best three point shooter then, say, matt carroll.

Heasie said...

Lets not forget the Miami Heat had a large amount of injuries all through last season. That's why kapono got the playing time he did. I will say he can shoot, but so can Wallys world, and I would not go shopping there no matter what the discounted price! I just see Delfino & kapono as two players the same. yes, they both have their individual styles and skills... but at the end of the day one could replace the other. I would pick Delfino over Kapono. I don't think either of them are starters, and if either of them are in the starting lineup to start the season I will be quite upset and calling for Sams head once again.

Plus the chunk of change they gave kopano chaps my ass. I just think that money could have gone into 1 FA that could rebound & shoot or 2 pick ups that fit into the toronto system.

Bottom line, i'm not saying it's a terrible pickup. I am saying it's one I could have lived without & wish never happened.

Ballllllllllin', Heas

NYCGATORfan said...

Why not make a trade though, instead of going after Kapono. Calderon is a better point guard in my opinion than TJ Ford, and Bargnani and Garbojosa are very similar players. Garbojosa is more polished now, while Bargnani has more up side. Why not package one of those two and T.J. Ford in a deal for a wing?

Teams will definitely give up a lot for Bargnani, and Ford is a respectable starting point guard. Plus Ford has a big contract. Trading Ford/Bargnani might have netted Jason Richardson since Don Nelson would love to have a Nowitzki clone in Golden State.

I just don't think Kapono is necessary in Toronto considering the other tweaks the Raptors need. Toronto has a lot of good pieces, an excellent coach, and a bright future. I just hope that Colangelo doesn't think that because the Raps overacheived in the regular season, that Toronto is close to becomming a championship team.

Mad Child said...

wait a second wait a bargnani?!? that would be crazy! to even consider trading bargani straight up for richardson is crazy. and over acheiving this team did not last year. Second best team in the east since new years. You will really need to watch a few more raptor games next year if you think they were over acheiving

NYCGATORfan said...

Why is it off limits to trade a player? Especially when you may get someone better in return? Richardson plays better defense than Bargnani does, is better at getting to the line, putting pressure on defenses, and is a more creative scorer. And given that the Raps need someone who can score tough points on his own, He'd fit in perfectly.

Of course you can keep Bargnani too, fail to adress the flaws on the roster, and keep the same team in tact. Hopefully, the Raptors will have gained enough experience from last year's run, and will have their youngsters evolve, improve, and add to their games.

I'm not dissing Bargnani as a player...obviously, he is very talented. But he's also very young, and still too soft to play more than a supporting role on the team, and it will take a while before he fully grows into his potential. If Toronto is as legit as their #2 seed indicated, wouldn't it be wiser for Toronto to go for a championship now then?

Remember it is very easy to take the steps from bad to mediocre and mediocre to good. Making the step from good to great is the most difficult step, and finding the pieces to make that step don't come easy. Sometimes you have to give a little, to get a lot back.

NYCGATORfan said...

Oh, and how can I say they did not overacheive, when they fell in 6 games to a very flawed New Jersey team.