Saturday , Mar , 07 , 2009 C.Y. Ellis

Nash and how it relates to the Raptors

Nash and how it relates to the RaptorsTotal disaster. This is how I’d  describe the 08-09 season for the Toronto Raptors. The team residing in Ontario is 23-39, sitting next to dead last in the Eastern Conference.

Who would have predicted this?

Before the season, the Raptors made what most thought would be the defining move of the franchise, acquiring Jermaine O’Neal to help do the dirty work up front with Chris Bosh.

Toronto fans combined excitement with a dash of arrogance, assuming the Raptors were taking the next step in becoming a legit contender in the Eastern Conference.

Lets face it, most of everybody expected the Raptors to take the next step forward, hitting the 50 game plateau in wins. With the way they are going right now, they may be lucky to achieve 30.

Besides from the draft pick on the impending lottery, the Raptors have lots of crucial decisions to make. Obviously, I’m talking about a 23 win team, so there is going to be lots of areas that will most likely need a complete remodel.

In Need of Steve?

I’m talking about Steve Nash. Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I’ve honestly taken a while to come around on this issue. I spent too much time defending Jose Calderon. No disrespect to Jose who like Oly said, has a nice assist to turnover ratio, but he needs further lesson on how to run a team. Now, who is better to mentor Calderon than Steve Nash? You also have Roko Ukic to think about. A lot of people in Toronto I speak to are very high on Ukic, and Nash is definitely somebody Ukic would listen to.

I hope the Phoenix franchise realizes this, but they aren’t going anywhere. In the words of Metallica, it’s “Sad but true”. Nash is 35 years old, and the fan base for the Suns eventually is going to crave a rebuild, unless mediocrity is the goal over in the desert.

If your Bryan Colangelo, why not bring in Nash for the remainder of his career?

Nash could teach Calderon some more ins and outs of the system. Calderon may not be Steve Nash in terms of pure talent, but he’s also no player to sleep on. Another area Nash could educate Jose on is defense. I know Nash himself isn’t the best defender, but he knows that. And he’s learned how to play angles on certain players, and this could certainly be taught upon Calderon. He’ll never be an all defensive team point guard, but this doesn’t mean you can’t improve. Lets not forget either, Nash is a gritty player. The Raptors team as a whole could learn lots about toughness from Nash, especially Calderon.

Right now, Steve Nash is a more equipped point guard, albeit older, to run a system that’s very similar to the Suns system under Mike D’Antoni.

Nash making an impact in Toronto would be an understatement. He’d give Shawn Marion additional reason to hang around, while we also know Steve Nash has a tendency to make three point shooters look very good. Good perimeter shooting is a must in this kind of system, and as long as Bargnani mixes up his drives like he has, I could see him thriving with Nash getting him the ball.

How about some Nash and Bosh on the pick and roll? This could be deadly to defend if you put somebody like Bargnani around the angle portion of the three point line. Opponents would have no choice but to hedge, and either way your forcing the defense to make decisions, and possibly half hearted decisions if you have consistent perimeter shooting to compliment Nash and Bosh.

When you really think about it, it probably does just as much for Chris Bosh to have Nash feeding him in the pick & roll. Bosh is a special talent by himself, but you add a diming specialist to feed him in the right spots, and all of the sudden the monster looks a bit scarier.

What I haven’t touched on yet is Chris Bosh and whether he’ll want to stay or go. I’m going to make an educated guess and say Bosh wants out. (Where did I get that idea?) If you could acquire Nash, then it shows CB4 that your serious about winning in the short term. Bosh needs reassurance on the direction of the franchise, or that a risk is going to be taken in order to win next year.

With all of this being said, it wouldn’t be a finished product after acquiring Nash. This team has serious needs. An athletic defensive minded big would be a significant help to Chris Bosh, not an aging center with questionable knees.(I apologize J.O.) If you have somebody down low to cover up a teammates blemishes on the perimeter, then it may make a world of difference. I don’t think Chris Bosh is that guy. Could Bosh deal with the heavy responsibility of both ends? You rather not find out.

One positive for the Raptors rotation next season is Carlos Delfino. Delfino is apparently sick and tired of Russia after one season, and the Raptors still hold his rights. Delfino will return to the Raptors according to ESPN, and I have no problems with this move. The Raptors need some more depth, specifically perimeter defenders. Delfino can also knock down the outside shot, but I wouldn’t call him Jason Kapono. The Raptors bench isn’t what it used to be, but it’s smart to assume this will be addressed.

Lastly, before I finish up, I’m going to touch on the coaching situation. With or without Nash, you’d have to have the right coach with the running mindset. This team needs to run with Nash or Calderon. I believe in getting down the floor and looking for easy buckets. If a team can break off a adequate number of fast break points, it usually shows with better shooting percentages in the half court sets. Jay Triano wants to run, but Bryan Colangelo has to get a feel of Triano from the players, and from what he sees up close. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Colangelo go after a proven guy because of the disappointment this season. But you have to beware, that last thing you want to do is bring in a name who isn’t committed to what YOU want to do.

What do you think of the Raptors situation? Try to make Bosh happy and bring in Nash? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box.