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: https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=vasquez+says+the+Raptors+need+a+paul+pierce+type+player&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-001
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?
Have a great day!
You may comment or contact me on Twitter @AlixtheGambit or e-mail at Jadesronvil@gmail.com

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?
Have a great day!
You may comment or contact me on Twitter @AlixtheGambit or e-mail at Jadesronvil@gmail.com

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?
Have a great weekend!
You may comment or contact me on Twitter @AlixtheGambit or e-mail at Jadesronvil@gmail.com

Is this the end of Michael Sam?

Michael Sam signed a two year contract with the Montreal Alouettes and was supposed to continue his journey to be the first openly gay professional football player. He left the club right before the first pre-season game. The Als organization didn’t mind giving him a few days to go home and expected him to return. Instead he hasn’t returned and is now on the suspended list. Jim Popp must feel like he was fooled by Sam and his representatives. Montreal gave him an opportunity to keep his dream alive since the National Football League gave up on him.
Sam was the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team when he was picked in the seventh round. The St. Louis Rams gave him an opportunity to compete for a roster spot and after a few pre-season games he was cut. Sam was on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad without every playing a single game.
The CFL would have been a great opportunity for Sam to show he has the ability, be a good teammate and handle the media scrutiny without it affecting neither his play nor the team’s success. At 25, he could still have moved on to the NFL as a 27 years old rookie.
Sam’s departure without an explanation to his fans and haters has pretty much squashed his CFL and NFL dreams. He will never dress in a regular season game because being on pre-season and practice roster doesn’t count as being on an official roster. Everybody now will doubt how badly he wants to be a professional player. He says all the right things and smiles without showing any signs of being affected by the pressure of being the first.
He will parlay his 15 minutes of fame into a long career as a reality star. He has already been a part of Dancing with the Stars and will have the opportunity to do many more shows: Amazing Race with his boyfriend, Survivor or one of Trump’s shows. One thing for sure it is the end of his aspirations of being a professional football player.
Do you believe Sam will come back to Montreal?
Have a great day!
You may comment or contact me on Twitter @AlixtheGambit or e-mail at Jadesronvil@gmail.com

Cavs NBA Finals loss confirms Love is better than Thompson

Many in the media and Ontario basketball fans were so infatuated the play of Tristan Thompson was a better fit and player than Kevin Love. Thompson is a better fit in games against Eastern Conference teams, but in the Finals against an offensive minded team. The Cleveland Cavaliers needed a big that can stretch the floor and occasionally post-up when they played LeBron James as the power forward.
Thompson lowest rebound total during the 6 game series against the Golden State Warriors was 10. He averaged 13 rebounds and averaged 10 points a game during his 40 minutes a game. Those numbers are nothing special when you take into consideration his playing time.
The numbers that will help the Cavs realize they should not pay 15 million dollars a year contract to Thompson will be the NBA Finals plus/minus. He had a plus only in game 2 (+10); he was a minus 6, 21, 13, 22 and 15 the rest of the series. He is a one dimensional player who works hard; therefore, a free agent big body forward can do the same.
Coach David Blatt preferred having Thompson be the only big man on the court when Golden State Warriors went small because of his athletic ability to chase the Warriors three point shooters. It didn’t work out, which is the primary reason his plus/minus was so bad. Coach Blatt must not have been informed or he was too stubborn to make an adjustment.
The Finals result has made Love a valuable player and he knows his presence would have made this series a seven game series. He has played for Team USA Basketball and knows how to limit three-point shooting by his opponents. The area where they miss Love the most without Kyrie Irving’s presence was the Cavs three point shooting percentage. The Cavs can only keep one PF.
Who do you prefer as Cavs PF: Thompson or Love?
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You may comment or contact me on Twitter @AlixtheGambit or e-mail at Jadesronvil@gmail.com

Coach Blatt has to use his bench…

Cleveland Cavaliers will have to get production from bench players if they want to win the NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors forced the ball out of LeBron James hands and left the Cavs three point shooters open. The results were a 3 for 23 night from behind the arc for Cavs shooters: Matthew Delladova (2 for 9), J.R. Smith (0 for 8), Iman Shumpert (1 for 5) and James Jones (0 for 1).
The Cavs have Mike Miller and Shawn Marion who can give them productive minutes and add offensive punch to the team. They are both have won at least one NBA Championship and played in multiple Finals. Neither player is a 25 minutes a game player, but the Cavs coach should be able to get a productive 25 combined from them.
The offensively challenged Tristan Thompson and Shumpert can’t be playing for 35 minutes a game without scoring when they have the opportunity. Miller and Marion can play a few minutes without playing at the same time. The Warriors have dusted off David Lee and their offense immediately improved. Miller and Marion could score  17 points combined and give Cavs an offensive threat when they are on the court. Miller could nail a couple of three pointers and change the complexion of a game.
The player who should have his minutes reduced the most is Smith; he is a player who is either great or horrible nothing in the between. He was atrocious in Game 4 with 4 fouls and points with a minus 27 in close to 28 minutes playing time. When Kyrie Irving went down J.R. was to provide scoring off the bench and give the Cavs a potential 20 points a night scorer. He scored 9, 13, 10 and 4 in the four games so far with 30 minutes a game playing time. Coach Blatt should make him earn his minutes.
The Cavs need to make so sure LeBron has willing and confident perimeter shooters on the court with him to have a chance. They may need to sacrifice some defensive efficiency in order to score points.
Who can Coach Blatt get valuable minutes from in Game 5?
Have a great weekend!
You may comment or contact me on Twitter @AlixtheGambit or e-mail at Jadesronvil@gmail.com

Warriors have home court advantage in the best of 3

The Golden State Warriors home court advantage in Game 5 and 7 if necessary. Their offense seems to clicking now with the insertion of Andre Iguodala in the starting line-up for his all-around game and David Lee’s in the paint offensive off the bench. Coach Steve Kerr sacrificed size and defense by playing his centers a total of 3 minutes. Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli’s presence were not required in Game 4.
Coach Kerr also reduced his bench minutes and played five players more than 30. Kudos to the Warriors coaching staff for increasing their best players’ minutes; they also adjusted their defensive strategy by double teaming LeBron James every time he touched the ball. The momentum of the series is now in favour of the Warriors because they regained home court advantage.
The Warriors better protect their house and win decisively to take the fight out of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Golden State has found their touch from the three point land with a 12 for 30 performance, which gave them a plus + 24 in Game 4. Iggy will not shoot 4 for 9 from three point again this series. The Cavs will continue to give him the open shot. Klay Thompson wants to get a maximum contract must play like a franchise player to help his team win the Championship if he wants to get paid. Stephen Curry hasn’t had one great game and is due to explode.
The Warriors know LeBron will be better Sunday and will challenge his team to compete just like Draymond Green did for Golden State before Game 4. The Game 5 result will be either a Warriors blowout victory or the Cavs win a close one. It will be interesting to see if the Cavs make any adjustments to their starting line-up or rotation and see how Coach Kerr responds.
Game 5 winner will win the series.
Have a great weekend!
You may comment or contact me on Twitter @AlixtheGambit or e-mail at Jadesronvil@gmail.com

Warriors’ depth won NBA Finals game 1

The media didn’t give enough credit to the Golden State Warriors second unit for winning game 1. They came in down 10 and made a run, which gave Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson a long rest. The Warriors went into the half down only 3 because of a J.R. Smith right before the half.
Their opponent the Cleveland Cavaliers used only 8 players and the Warriors used 10. A work colleague the Warriors to the San Antonio Spurs well they looked like them with Coach Steve Kerr using multiple players and letting his second unit stay for an extended period while starters sat because they were playing better. The Warriors had 10 players score compared to the Cavs’ 6.
The biggest surprises were Andre Igoudala who is known for his defense lately scored a surprising 15 points and Marreese Speights scored 8 points.
The regular season NBA MVP Curry will score more than 23 points in Game 2. The Cavs will have a huge problem matching up with the Warriors small unit without Irving in the line-up. Coach Steve Kerr will remind them that the series is not over because of injured Cavs players.
The Warriors seem to be the team of destiny: the team they feared the most, San Antonio Spurs were knocked out, then playing the Houston Rockets instead of the Los Angeles Clippers and in the Memphis series which was 2 – 2 when the Grizzlies defensive specialist Tony Allen hurt his hamstring. Now Irving is out for the rest of the playoffs.
The Warriors are now heavy favourites to win the NBA title for the third time in their franchise history as Warriors and second time in Golden State.
Will the Warriors close the deal?
Have a great weekend!
You may comment or contact me on Twitter @AlixtheGambit or e-mail at Jadesronvil@gmail.com

Cavs Big 3 is done to 1…

The Cleveland Cavaliers big three: LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were supposed to give them a NBA Championship. The big three is now done to one due to the cheap shot by Kelly Olynyk on Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving breaking his knee cap.
Did Coach David Blatt follow in the footsteps of Ex-Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau? Thibodeau could be partially to blame for Derrick Rose’s recurring knee injuries over the last two seasons. Blatt played Irving up 3 – 0 against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4 for 23 minutes instead of resting him for the NBA Finals. Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors he played 43 minutes on a less than 100% knee. Coach Blatt will regret how he handled Irving’s minutes in hindsight.
The rookie Coach is under pressure to win now and the city of Cleveland is desperate for a Championship. The Cavs traded the NBA Rookie of the year to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Andrew Wiggins, for an opportunity to win now.
James is the lone remaining member of the Big 3 and he will have to carry a very heavy workload. He played over 40 minutes in Game 1 and will play that every game for the remainder of the playoffs during regulation.
I agree with Jeff Van Gundy assessment after the Irving injury. The Cavs without Irving don’t have enough offense to compete with the Warriors. I can’t see the Cavs handle the Warriors small line-up without Irving.
The Cavs have few days to recover from losing their All-star and continue to battle. Blatt will have to get as much as possible out of his role players to give his a team a chance to win a few games this series.
Are the Cavs doomed?
Have a great weekend!
You may comment or contact me on Twitter @AlixtheGambit or e-mail at Jadesronvil@gmail.com

Will Coach Hoiberg gain Rose and Noah’s trust?

The Chicago Bulls announce their new head coach Fred Hoiberg this week. The first question should be can he gain the trust of the undisputed leaders of the Bulls? Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have a lot of individual awards and accolades, while winning .647 percent of their games with Coach Tom Thibodeau at helm the last four years. The Bulls won 50 games and a playoff round last year. The bar has been set high for the new Bulls Coach. Hoiberg is entering a much tougher situation than Brad Stevens did when he took the Boston Celtics job two years ago. The new Bulls coach mandate is to improve and win immediately.
There has been no news yet on what Rose or Noah thought of the firing, which is a good thing for Hoiberg. Rose is 26 years old and Noah is 30, while their age is relatively young we can’t say the same for their bodies with each one having multiple surgeries and injuries throughout their careers. Former Coach Thibs played each player heavy minutes despite Rose and Noah often not being 100%. The two superstars may not be there in the third year of Hoiberg’s contract.
A NBA team that replaces a successful coach with a new one doesn’t always work out for them. The Los Angeles Clippers fired Vinny Del Negro and replaced him with a NBA Champion coach Doc Rivers and they still haven’t made the NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors on the other hand are in the NBA Finals in Steve Kerr’s rookie season after replacing popular coach Marc Jackson.
The Bulls stars Rose and Noah have two years to win a Championship or else the organization will have to rebuild the roster.
Can Hoiberg get the Bulls over the hump (LeBron)?
Have a great day!
You may comment or contact me on Twitter @AlixtheGambit or e-mail at Jadesronvil@gmail.com

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