The Toronto Raptors are going to be a lot of things this upcoming 2010/11 season, athletic on the wings, a more up-tempo style on the defensive end and of course a very young and likely frustrating team to watch night in and night out. The expectations from most ‘experts’ are pretty dim and I believe the over/under betting line for wins this season is around 27 at last check. While I feel there is actually more to be optimistic about than most and we will likely surprise a few teams this season one thing I am not is delusional. To that end I know the Raptors barring some unforeseen circumstances are not likely to be ultra competitive this season, and adding any band-aid solutions for this year is a complete waste of resources and more importantly playing time.
The latest rumours have the Raptors brain trust pondering the idea of bringing veteran big man Erick Dampier into the fold. There is no doubt Dampier adds an element this team is sorely lacking, and has been lacking for some time. Rebounding, size, strength, presence down low, defensive ability and toughness are all things Dampier can bring to the table. However, is any of that really going to make one iota of difference in the grand scheme of things for the Toronto Raptors in 2010/11? This is the type of guy you add as depth on a more seasoned roster looking to make a potential playoff run, not a team hoping to get back to the draft lottery and add a potential blue chip young ‘baller to help us down the road.
To add Dampier at this point in our franchise’s fragile history even for the veteran minimum salary hit is just plain ludicrous. You are telling me that if given the exact same amount of minutes our very own Dwight Howard look-a-like Joey Dorsey couldn’t do exactly what we think Dampier could do? Dampier is the very definition of a replacement level player who adds almost no value to a rebuilding team like Toronto and is actually taking a potentially valuable commodity away from the Raptors, playing time. I’d be willing to wager that if given similar playing time Dorsey would produce better numbers in rebounding and shot blocking than Dampier.
In some shape or form Dampier would cost Ed Davis, Solomon Alobi and the aforementioned Joey Dorsey a chance to play those crucial extra few minutes a night that could help shape them as players sooner than later, or at least give the Raptors an idea if they can play or not. Amir Johnson was just signed to a lucrative long term deal and any situation that might rob him of even 3-5 minutes a game is a negative. Joey Dorsey doesn’t have the name, notoriety or awesome ‘Common’ beard but he does have a god-like physique that appears NBA ready as well as a motivation to improve and be a part of this young group going forward.
Dampier’s primary (only) motivator will be to establish himself as a viable big man again and hopefully regain some of the lost faith in his game, however if that costs the Raptors even one cent or one minute of playing time a night from any of their young and improving big men than I say thanks but no thanks. This year is about progress, making small gains and giving the fans some hope that the product on the court will start to show significant improvement as early as next year, and it’s also about scoring a hot new prospect in the NBA lottery.
Lost in the allure of adding our first tough, hardnosed rebounding big man is a little thing called perspective. This would be like the Toronto Maple Leafs having signed a player like Raffi Torres, brought him to training camp and realized he was completely redundant or the Toronto Blue Jays signing Vicente Padilla and blocking a Brett Cecil or Kyle Drabek plus getting worse production. It wasn’t right for those teams and this move isn’t right for the Raptors.
SHAQ SLIGHTS CHRIS BOSH AGAIN?
With one quote new Boston Celtics centre Shaquille O’Neal continues his extreme dislike for former Raptors forward Chris Bosh. In a recent Adrian Wojnarowski column O’Neal is quoted “They got a great 1-2,” Shaq was obviously referring to the Miami Heat’s duo of Dwayne Wade and Lebron James but of course snubbing the third major piece Chris Bosh.
I would have to think Bosh was praying his long time nemesis O’Neal moved back to the Western Conference in the offseason so he could eventually move past the ongoing feud, however with his latest slight it appears Bosh could be in for a few more long and potentially painful (watch those elbows) matchups involving ‘Diesel’.
No word yet if a Shaquille O’Neal statue will be resurrected at the ACC in time for the regular season.