The Raptors have added players with high basketball I.Q.

The Toronto Raptors fans will no longer see high scoring games with the team only able to win when they make a high number of three point shots. The points for average 104.00 and 100.9 point against will drop in both categories with the new players. The team President of basketball operations Masai Ujiri did review the Raptors team and noticed the huge loop holes in their game after the embarrassing defeat to the Washington Wizards. The Wizards took away the three point line, played physical and dominated the Raptors in the last three games.
Head coach Dwane Casey team could only win games by only playing one style last season. Ujiri added tough physical players who will push back with committing dumb fouls, have a high basketball and play team basketball.
Coach Casey and Ujiri will hope Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross will learn by watching less physically gifted players Luis Scola and DeMarre Carroll. The new players have a high basketball I.Q., move well without the ball in their hands and play defense against bigger opponents without being embarrassed. Valanciunas and Ross need to players who are valuable contributors every night. Jonas finally playing with a inside player he can watch, mimic some of Scola’s pet moves and be better at the mental aspect of the game.
The Raptors now have an nine man rotation: Kyle Lowry, DeMarr DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll, Jonas Valanciunas, Patrick Patterson, Terrence Ross, Cory Joseph, Bismack Biyombo and James Johnson. Ujiri can’t fill out the last three spots with player that can’t contribute if there are any injuries to the top 9.
Coach Casey will need to impose stricter control on Lowry and DeRozan shot selection and implement a team offense. The ball and players have to move instead of depending solely on the three points without ball movement.
Can Coach Casey implement ball movement in the Raptors offense?
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Clippers team chemistry an issue

The President of basketball operations and head coach Doc Rivers was able to get DeAndre Jordan to resign with the help of the owner and teammates. This doesn’t answer the question: why did Jordan want to sign with the Dallas Mavericks in the first place?
Rivers will have to find out what is going on in the Clippers locker room if he wants to make at least one NBA Finals during the next three years. Jordan has a player’s option in the fourth year. The Clippers have three of the best players at their positions in the NBA with point guard Chris Paul, power forward Blake Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan, which is the best Big Three in the league.
Team chemistry is an important ingredient for team success. The Clippers were pointing fingers at each other after their elimination at the hands of the Houston Rockets. The inexplicable game 6 loss was devastating to everybody involved with the Clippers organization.
The addition of veteran Paul Pierce could help the young roster in terms of playoff success and a player who will remind the team what Coach Rivers expects from them. This could help, but it doesn’t resolve the Clippers biggest problem. They need role players to provide minutes, points, rebounds, blocks, set screens, take charges and fouls. Pierce is only one piece.
Rivers is the team President who needs to add more than just old players that have nothing left. The last young future star on the Clippers roster was Eric Bledsoe and he was traded. They need to find a young wing player to add to a top heavy roster. There are so many players in the NBA Summer League or European players who can contribute without just signing above 30 years old marginal players.
The Clippers need to address the team chemistry and fill out the roster with more than just warm bodies. The San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors on some nights will use 10 players to win a game that is not a blowout. The Clippers should take a page from the last 2 NBA Champions.
Can Rivers lead the Clippers to an NBA Championship?
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Spurs Phase one accomplished

The San Antonio Spurs signed the number one free agent LaMarcus Aldridge. They have lost some role players that can be easily replaced. The next move will be to convince David West to take a pay cut and convince him that he can win a NBA Championship with the Spurs.
The Spurs right if they can stay healthy could the team that can prevent the reigning NBA Champions and Western Conference representative the Golden State Warriors from repeating. The Spurs signed young players Danny Green and Kwahi Leonard to long term deals. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Manu Ginobili should be able to contribute without playing heavy minutes. Patty Mills will provide instant points of the bench. Aldridge is an All-star immediately makes the 55 win team better.
The addition of West will give the Spurs a three man rotation because Coach Gregg Popovich loves to have two big men on the court for the majority of the game. The presence of Duncan, Aldridge and West on the roster would give them that ability to do so whenever Coach Popovich wants.
The player that will be a bigger loss than many think is Mario Belinelli; the Spurs need to find a talented three point shooter to replace his ability to cut into lead with a few makes. The Spurs ability to score inside and out offense works extremely because they shot a high percentage from each area of the court, which not many teams can do.
The Spurs got a player who can score from mid-range and post-up who fits in perfectly into a high-low offense with very good three point shooters. They can match-up with any style of play and win.
Will the Spurs win 60 games next year?
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Clippers are doomed after losing Jordan

DeAndre Jordan will no longer be the Los Angeles Clippers starting center and will continue his career with the Dallas Mavericks. The Clippers signed Paul Pierce and expected Jordan to return now they must look for a starting center. No matter who President of Basketball operations and head coach Doc Rivers can find to replace Jordan; he will be nowhere near the former Clippers abilities. There aren’t many centers who are presently free agents who can keep the Clippers as a top 4 team in the Western Conference.
Jordan’s 35 minutes, double-double machine and 2.5 blocks a game can’t be replaced by one person that is why the Mavericks are paying him 20 million dollars a year for the next four years.
The rumour is now JaVale McGee could be the new center. He has never averaged 30 minutes, double digits in points and rebounds in one season. McGee has great athletic ability; he can block shots and is an active player. He is not physically imposing as Jordan. McGee should be able to give the Clippers 25 minutes and could be a double-double player with a point guard like Chris Paul.
Amr’e Stoudemire could share the center position with McGee and give the Clippers an offensive player to compliment McGee’s defensive play. Stoudemire has not had a great season since 2010-11 season and it was also the last time that he was able to play over 70 games. He is still a player who can put the ball in the hoop and has been a double digit scorer despite his limited games and minutes.
The Clippers have Paul and Blake Griffin, which means no rebuilding, will be going on next year. Doc Rivers will have to find a replacement to fill out the huge void left behind by Jordan. They will be a playoff team no matter who they sign to be their center. The only question will be; can they win an NBA Championship without Jordan?
Will the Clippers be a title contender next year?
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Raptors get a good start to free agency

The Toronto Raptors will sign DeMarre Carroll to a 4 years 60 million dollars contract July 9, 2015 was a very good start by Masai Ujiri. The Raptors President paid the going rate and term for a player who had an excellent season for the Atlanta Hawks last season. Carroll was the Hawks second best player in the playoffs until he hurt his knee. His playoff numbers were excellent scoring over 20 points in 7 of the 16 games he played.
Head Coach Dwane Casey will love the fact Carroll can guard the best scoring wing opponent this will help reduce the points against average. He shot 39% during the season and 40% during the playoffs from the three point line, which makes him very good in that category. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be productive offensively.
The big question will be can the Raptors use a ball movement and player motion offense instead of relying on the individual play of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Carroll is not the type of player who will score if he has to create his own shot. He played with All-stars Jeff Teague, Al Horford and Kyle Korver who didn’t mind making the extra pass to an opponent teammate; therefore, creating open shots for Carroll. The Raptors offense is not known for the extra pass.
Ujiri free agency got off to a great start; he needs to sign a forward and another wing player. The Raptors loss three key players from their nine man rotation from last year’s 49 win team. The organization will hope that Carroll can bring leadership and a team first attitude in the locker room.
Who will the Raptors sign next?
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Spurs fans rejoice…

The San Antonio Spurs will try to sign a big name free agent forward. The players that could dramatically change the organization future could be LaMarcus Aldrige. The Spurs were able to trade Tiago Splitter to the Atlanta Hawks and create 9 million dollars in salary cap room to help pave the way for a major signing.
The Spurs number one choice is Aldridge who would provide them with an All-star power forward to play alongside the future Hall of Fame player Tim Duncan during his final years. LaMarcus provide length, rebounding and a skilled offensive player who can post-up or score from mid-range. He will be surrounded by the Spurs excellent three point shooters. The Portland Trailblazers played a similar style to the Spurs’ offense.
Head coach Gregg Popovich, Duncan and Tony Parker will try to convince Aldridge the Spurs gives him the best chance at one NBA Championship. The nine year professional has had a lot of personal and team success during the season with no NBA Finals or a Championship.
The Spurs will go all in with the hopes of signing their first choice and bring a star quality player to the roster. Duncan joining the recruiting process and hopefully get the power forward that will raise the Spurs to Championship level. If Aldridge doesn’t sign the Spurs could try DeAndre Jordan and Greg Monroe to fill the void left by Splitter.
Aldridge visiting multiple teams before making a decision might not bode well for the Spurs who really need the special forward to round out the multiple three point shooters, Duncan and Parker attacking the rim with the Hall of Fame head coach.
Can the Spurs sign Aldridge?
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Merry Christmas Kessel

The former Toronto Maple Leafs will no longer be the whipping boy for the media and fans after every loss. Phil Kessel got a really early Christmas present by being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He will no longer be the face of the franchise, doesn’t have to deal with an aggressive Toronto reporters and he will play with two of the best players in the World (Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin). He will not have to spend so much time dealing with the media with Crosby on his team.
Kessel was often criticized for what he couldn’t do instead of what he can. The Penguins want his speed and goal scoring ability without stressing him about fore-checking and defense. He scored more than 30 goals in 5 out of 9 NHL seasons and one of the season he missed the mark it was due the 48 games strike shortened season. He did it mainly with average players. He will go into season with a great possibility to hit the 40 goals mark for the first time in his career.
The Penguins only scored 221 goals last season, which was tied the offensively challenged Montreal Canadiens. A healthy Penguins team will be a top 4 team in the Eastern Conference. They will return to their high powered offensive style and will once again be an entertaining team to watch. Kessel will finally be on a team who has a chance to win the Stanley Cup when the season starts.
The Leafs didn’t much in return in terms of players; they did get a first round pick and salary cap space to help rebuild the organization. The first round pick of Penguins won’t be high. Coach Mike Babcock doesn’t have to deal with a player who is not a leader, doesn’t work out much during the off season and is known to be a negative presence in the locker room.
Will Kessel score 40 next year?
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Raptors let go two popular players

Masai Ujiri made a few moves on draft night to shed some salary with the hope to bring players who can help the Toronto Raptors take the next step. Greivis Vasquez has been traded and they will not get into a bigger war for Lou Williams’ services.
The Toronto Raptors traded Vasquez for a second round pick in 2015 and a 2017 first round pick which was originally owned by the Los Angeles Clippers. The 2017 first pick will not be a high one. It is still excellent value for a back-up point guard who will be making 6.6 million dollars next year. The 2015 second round pick was Norman Powell from UCLA. Vasquez only had one year remaining on his contract.
Vasquez loved being in Toronto, is an ambassador to the Pan Am Games and gave honest answers to questions posed to him. He said we need a Paul Pierce type player on the Raptors because we are a bunch of nice guys:
The Vasquez comments might not have been well received by Ujiri, head coach Dwane Casey and teammates. He challenged Ujiri to get the Raptors a true leader, which makes it seem like the present leaders Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are not great leaders after first round embarrassment at the hands of the Washington Wizards. The main reason he was moved was for salary cap purposes, but the comments were in the back of Ujiri’s mind.
The decision not to over pay for Lou Williams is a very good one. He had a career year for him, won sixth man of the year award and will get a great offer from someone. He is a shot first no defense kind of player who will struggle at times against good defensive teams. Williams is a one dimensional player.
Ujiri is cleaning out the closet and his decision will be judged by who he brings in. It would be too much for a rookie to step in and play over 25 minutes a game. The Raptors loss 25 points, 5.8 assists and two popular players who made more than 100 three point shots last year.
Did Ujiri make a smart move to trade Vasquez and let go Williams?
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Raptors draft night was average

The Toronto Raptors first round pick was Delon Wright of Utah at number twenty. Wright was not highly touted and wasn’t even present at the draft ceremony. Jalen Rose was responsible for choosing NBA player who had a similar skill set to the chosen first rounder. The NBA player that Rose chose to compare Wright too was Jordan Clarkson who was a rookie for the Los Angeles Lakers last season. Some people compared Wright to Shaun Livingston, which would have been a nicer comparison for Raptors fans to hear than Clarkson.
Wright is a defensive point guard who can penetrate a defense, pass first point guard with a weak three point shooting stroke (30.6%). He will have an opportunity to get playing time with the trade of Greivis Vasquez and not contract offer for Lou Williams. Wright is 23 years old and can contribute right away if given the chance. He ran a pick and roll heavy offense in college, which should make it easy to transition to NBA pick and roll heavy offense.
Norman Powell was the Raptors second round selection. A four year player who has developed into a leader, has helped his team each the round of 16 and a solid defender who needs to work on his shooting stroke.
The two players selected are down will bring defensive intensity to the organization and will defend someday the opponents top wing players. They are both older and should be mature enough to handle immediate playing time if they get.
Masai Ujiri may have drafted a player who can make the twelve man roster and contribute some limited minutes in their rookie season. Coach Dwane Casey wants players who can play defense, but his offense is based on three-point shooting. Neither rookie is known for their shooting.
Do you believe one of the 2015 picks will contribute next season?
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Subban deserved the 2015 Norris Trophy

The Montreal Canadiens promoted the virtues of Carey Price and the media went along for the ride. He left the NHL awards ceremony with 4 trophies. His teammate P.K. Subban was finalist for the Norris Trophy and finished third in the voting because the Canadiens organization didn’t promote his talents and great season.
Subban didn’t make the NHL All-star team last season, which was very strange to many who follow hockey. The Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien puts Subban down on a regular basis in the post-game interviews. The general manager Marc Bergevin made Subban go to arbitration two summers ago before signing him to a long term deal.
The Norris was a two player (Erik Karlsson and P.K. Subban) race to most fans and Subban finished third. The total votes and first place votes were: Karlsson with 964 and 44, Drew Doughty 889 and 53, while Subban had 801 and 24. Shea Webber got more first place votes than Subban with 26.
The statistics indicate it was a close race. Many voters are voting for the best offensive defenseman not the best overall at his position.
Name       Goals   Assists     Points    +/-
Karlsson    21         45            66           7
Doughty     7          39            46           3
Subban      15         45            60         21
Webber     15         30            45         15

The statistics shows Subban in all four categories was either first or second. The Montreal Canadiens had the best goals against in the NHL last season. Price was fantastic and his defensive unit was also very good that was led by Subban. They gave up an average of 30.1 shots a game, which is middle of the pack. The Los Angeles Kings led the league with a 27.0 average.
His critics will say because of Price his plus/minus was so good. Then I can say Karlsson had more points because his coach let him attack sacrificing defense and he played with a team that was ninth in scoring last year. The Canadiens defense first mentality was twentieth in scoring; therefore, limiting Subban’s opportunities to score.
P.K. once again had an excellent season and many feel he had was better than the year he won his first Norris trophy. He will win another Norris Trophy before his retirement.
Did Subban deserve the 2015 Norris Trophy?
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