The Raptors catch a break tonight though not the kind anyone would likely want to take pleasure in, given T-Wolves centre and centrepiece Al Jefferson is gone for the season with a torn ACL.
That itself generates one of those quotes that just drive me crazy, it comes from T-wolves coach Kevin McHale, but it could be anyone. It's the old, 'everything happens for a reason' line of thinking. "I feel terrible for Al. Al's really, right now, devastated by it,'' McHale said. "(But) It all happens for a reason."
I can't disagree more, actually. Almost nothing happens for a reason. Most of the time things happen and we try to make sense of them in retrospect and we're usually wrong about that, too. I would dispute that there is a reason behind your best player tearing his ACL. I understand why you might want to think that. It's comforting. But it's not true.
Now, I don't argue with the idea that you can turn this more or less random event into something positive. I buy that. Like in this case the T-Wolves can sink ever lower in the standings and draft some real talent to play along AJ. And maybe during the course of his rehabilitation Jefferson can learn some things about training and steel himself against further injury. That's making a positive out of a negative, a cliche I subscribe to wholeheartedly. But random accidents don't happen for a reason. They just happen.
Anyway I must admit I'm not the biggest Jefferson fan. When I see him I think of an under-sized -- relatively -- post-up centre who isn't particularly athletic but who makes up for it with tremendous touch and a great feel for the game on the inside. An interesting player, one who can produce given the chance -- which he's only ever had on terrible teams -- but who is in my mind part of the puzzle, not the main piece.
And until recently I would have said Chris Bosh is hand's down a better player and better prospect. But is he?
I've never really bought into Jefferson as a franchise player. Defensively he's a bit soft and I wonder if you can run all your offence through a guy who is kind of otherwise one-dimensional.
But is Bosh? He's already got a 'max' contract and it's almost certain he's going to get another one in 2010. But is he a max player? Not sure.
I'd have no problem arguing that Jefferson isn't. But what is the difference between the two? Jefferson averages 23 points and 11 rebounds on 49.6 per cent shooting. Bosh averages 22.7 points and 9.5 rebounds on 49.6 per cent shooting. Bosh is a better passer, Jefferson a better shot-blocker. Bosh gets to the line more, Jefferson is a better offensive rebounder. They anchor teams that are headed straight to the draft lottery. They're both just 24. Both have knee issues, though Bosh hasn't had a major injury like Jefferson's.
There's not much to choose between them. They're both clearly very talented and productive professionals. But until recently I would have been comfortable making one a franchise player and not the other and I was probably wrong on both counts.
Congratulations to Greg Francis, the junior development coach for Basketball Canada who just got hired by the University of Alberta to take over for Don Horwood. An excellent hire by UofA, I think, as Francis obviously is very well tapped in to the top young talent in Canada and at Alberta has a program robust enough -- like UBC, Carleton and a small handful of others -- to make a case that some of those athletes would be better served staying in Canada than going south. Here's the release:
And thanks to Dave Leeder for putting me on to this note. Some long-time hoopsheads might remember Greg Wiltjer, a seven-footer who played a moment in the NBA, was a longtime National team member and otherwise had a nice career in Europe. Well turns out he's got a son who is 15, 6-foot-7, projected to grow to seven-feet and wants to be the next Dirk Nowitzki. He's already on the recruiting radar of top US Div I programs. If I'm Canada Basketball I'm on the phone and getting him into a Canadian jersey as soon as possible.
Finally really interesting post here -- by way of Khandor's Sports Blog - that challenges the knee-jerk assertion that Jason Kapono is one of the best shooters in the NBA. The point is made that to be a great shooter you need to be able to make a lot of different kinds of shots. On that basis Steve Nash gets the nod, with a lot of love for Ray Allen, and I can't disagree, but I think Nowitzki is way up on that list because -- while not as nimble as those guys -- he can get his shot off because he's so big and his release is so high. I do think Kapono is a great shooter who can take and make any shot but -- and this is relevant because it's apparent he's going to be a bigger part of the offense over the next little while for the Raptors -- he can't make them in any circumstance. He's just not fast, fit or athletic enough to create situations where he can make all the shots that are in his tool box. There's no shot Ray Allen has that Kapono doesn't. It's just that he's not Ray Allen.