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A Vision: Toronto Raptors:

Raptors Vs Nets – Season Finale

Ever wonder what it would be like to build a professional sports team, all from scratch, all of your ideas and hard work put into making your team either something special or a disaster. Of course you do. We all think we’re general managers, scouts, and marketers of our favorite sports teams. When you love a team so much and things go south, it gets your mind thinking about how you would operate the team. I’m a person who thinks constantly about what changes I would make to change the overall culture.

As most of you will probably know I am a die-hard Indiana Pacers fan that lives in Toronto, Ontario but I have followed both teams growing up. I’ve grown to love the Raptors and been waiting patiently for this team to turn it around. I’m at a point where I feel that I should just give up on them, because basically, I hate watching a team that (at this point) seems to have no direction, what-so-ever. So I started thinking, when I think of the Toronto Raptors as organization, what’s the perception? In the eyes of most people, they’re just another business either making money, losing money, another road stop for the visiting team, pretty much an entertainment outlet for the people of Toronto. Going to see the Raptors is ‘something to do’ outside of the core fan base obviously.

What if I could change that, what if I bought the team somehow and decided to rebrand the team image, and culture. What would I do to make this a respectable organization? So I decided to sit down and brainstorm ideas because it’s fun to think about that kind of stuff

Team Name: Raptors

A team should play according to their image, in this case, their name. What is a Raptor? A dinosaur, that hunts in packs and works together as a unit to kill its prey. Each Raptor is known to have a huge nail on one of its toes used to finish off their prey once they catch them.

Sports teams should have a consistent identity to whom and what they represent. Look at teams like the Celtics and Lakers, those teams built their blue print through blood, sweat and tears. Since the Toronto Raptors have been up and down in the type of team that they want to be, the name, Raptors, should be their blue print.

Since the prehistoric raptors are known for hunting in packs, the Raptors should use this scheme as their identity for offense and defense. They make the excuse that no one wants to come to Toronto (which is true, but they’ll tell you otherwise) so you have to get players here that complement each other, and bring their own identity to the team. The unit has to work as one; no egos or personal agendas should be allowed on the team, just focused on one thing, the goal. Within each pack, lies a leader, an individual that makes sure everyone does what they’re supposed to during game. This person commands the respect of everybody and holds himself and everyone around him accountable to make sure each hunt is successful.

It’s a jungle out here, and to succeed, you must know what you are supposed to do each and every time you get on the court. Everyone should know what their role is and be able to execute their role with no hesitation. Each position should be clearly defined from the beginning, and management should be bringing guys in based off of those principles. The minute they deviate from the original principle it requires adjustments that may or may not affect the original purpose. In other words, if the guy you bring in isn’t a game changer, he shouldn’t be enough to change your original plan.

The Roster:

What makes teams great? Great players do, but let’s get the term Superstars out the way for a minute, and discuss the basics of a basketball roster. I’m an old school guy, so I believe in the inside out game. If you want to be a great team, you have to be at least 2 deep at every position, but you’ll probably need 3 point guards, or combo guards to give yourself options.

If I were to put together a roster for the Raptors, using the Raptors image, I would look for these types of players to start on my team.

Centre:

–          Tough, never backing down from the competition

–          Athletic, if not, a guy with size who can clog the middle

–          Great passing ability out of the double team.

–          Good hands around the basket

Power Forward:

–          Notice the word POWER. Not a stretch 4 who stays out on the perimeter

–          Legit threat down low.

–          Ability to guard the pick n roll

–          Can guard both 4 and 5 positions

–          At least 6’10 or higher in height, not undersized

Small Forward:

–          All around type player, playmaker

–          Athletic, open floor or half court type player

–          Long wingspan

–          Ability to play defense, can guard position 1-3 or at least 2’s and 3’s

–          Ability to create own shot and/or stretch the defense

Shooting Guard:

–          Can shoot off the dribble or off screens (similar to Ray Allen)

–          Has size on him, I like Big Guards on my team

–          Can defend his position

–          Mentally tough (should be a go-to-guy down the stretch)

–          Ability to get off shot in the post, and pass out of the post

Point Guard:

–          Not undersized

–          Quick hands

–          Play on-ball defense, footwork

–          Ability to stretch the floor

Evaluation of the Raptors “Core” players:

When I look at how the Raptors are built right now, I really don’t know what each player’s purpose is. Let me look at our “Big 3” DeRozen, Calderon, Bargnani, I truly believe that none of those guys complement each other. Here’s how I feel about their games.

DeMar DeRozen: 

To me he is just a scoring guard, not really a pure shooting guard, or a point guard, but more of an athletic guard. The Raptors want him to be a defensive stopper and be a more defensive minded player, but he’s just not. To solve the problem with DeMar, you have to play him with a PG who is quick and draw double teams, to get #10 open shots, or an open lane for the dunk. The way the Raptors run their overall offense, it limits his game a lot. He’s more of a finisher, than a go to guy, I could be wrong, but the Raptors need to get themselves a playmaking point guard to fully maximize DeMar’s offensive capabilities. DeMar was compared to Vince Carter coming into the league, but you can’t compare the two, Vince was a lot more explosive off the dribble and did whatever he wanted to defenders. DeMar still has to develop that in his game, I’m sure he’ll get there at some point in his career. He needs someone to make his game easier, the more space he has on the floor, the more effective he’ll be.

Jose Calderon:

I like Calderon’s game, but I think in order to make this team better, Raptors need a point guard with length, quickness with size. I am a fan of having big guards who can command double teams, because it opens up the game for everybody else. Having a point guard who can run the floor and post up would be ideal because it creates a lot of problems for the defense. Jose plays scared sometimes to me, because he’ll dribble all over the court looking for a pass rather than attack. A point guard should be a threat with the ball at all times, Jose doesn’t really present a consistent threat, but there are times when you can’t get off him because he can light you up, but there’s also times where he’s way too passive. He does have the ability to score on the drive. While he’s efficient with his game (Turnover/Assist ratio), to me, he doesn’t make his teammates better, he just controls the flow of the offense.

Andrea Bargnani:

I have had my beefs over the years with Bargnani, and I truly believe I’ve seen enough of his potential. He is talented, but to me he doesn’t have that motor to carry a team on his back like most people think. When I’m watching him in the clutch, he plays soft. I don’t think he’s aggressive enough with his jump shot, he shoots like he’s in practice mode and to me, he doesn’t bring that toughness I expect from a Power Forward. Even though he stretches the defense with his 3 point capabilities, I’d rather him use his size advantage down low. I believe if he played more down low, it would open up his whole game. I like players who have grit, can grind it out and have that killer instinct, with his skill set; he should be a top 20 player in the league. I just don’t see it. When you look at the blue print, Raptors, he doesn’t fit the mold. Most people will look at this and say I’m bashing him, but I’m just being realistic. He’s shown flashes of the kind of threat he can be, but it’s not consistent enough for praise.

Team Concept:

Prehistoric raptors were small, but moved as a unit, I think when putting together this team under this image, you would have a roster of guys who are quick on their feet, and the ability to play defense as a unit. Help defense would be strength because of their ability to show and recover on the defensive end, and when on offense, can get out and run. I would only bring in guys are tough as nails, who have the mentality of not backing down from their opponent.

Game Intro:

Raptors need an identity as their intro. You look at the great teams like the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers, they all have a theme for their intros. The Raptors intro is more of an entertainment thing. What if they incorporated a true Raptors theme? Instead of playing 50 Cent or Jay-Z, they should come out with theme music that would rattle their opponents. To be honest, if I was playing the Raptors on the road, I would be dancing to their intro music; it doesn’t make me fear the Raptors playing at the Air Canada Centre. Have an intro that sets the tone for the team, whether it is a dramatic or high energy intro; just have something that says, THIS IS OUR HOUSE, rather than random club music.

That’s all I have for now, I may or may not have a part two for this, but you never know about me, thanks for reading, this is ThaLiveKing signing off!!!

Follow me on Twitter @ThaLiveKing

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