We told you yesterday how the Toronto Raptors are 8-2 in their last 10 games, and how that neatly coincides with the 10 games Andrea Bargnani has been out.
Now, to be fair, it also coincides with the 10-game soft stretch of the Raptors schedule, but we’re not going to let that get in the way of some good Bargnani bashing. Everyone in Toronto is pretty much done with him, they just need to find a trading partner (and good luck with that).
To add to the piling on, we bring you former Raptors coach Sam Mitchell, speaking with Sportsnet.ca.
“I wasn’t allowed to coach Andrea the same way I was allowed to coach Jose (Calderon),” Mitchell told Tim & Sid on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Wednesday. “I was a hard ass on Jose; I was hard on him, but look at the type of player he turned out to be.
“I was not allowed to be that tough on Andrea because within the organization we felt he couldn’t take it. And my whole thing was if he can’t take it then we can’t build around him. And no one thought Jose could take it, and Jose did.”
So you’re saying a top pick and guy thought to be a franchise player got special treatment in the NBA? No way. That has never happened before. I’m shocked.
Of course, the flaw here is that Mitchell being a hard a** with Bargnani wouldn’t have changed the way he plays. It didn’t really change Calderon, either, not to burst his bubble. Calderon was 24 his first season in the NBA, had played plenty in Spain where his game was formed, and by his second season when he adjusted to the style of play was putting up solid numbers in the NBA.
But let’s not let that get in the way of some good Bargnani bashing.
There’s this overplayed angle talked about by some fans and pundits suggesting the Warriors just got lucky last season — for example, they faced a banged-up Rockets’ team in the conference finals then a Cavaliers’ squad without two of their big three through the Finals. Then there was Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers saying the Warriors were lucky not having to play the Clippers or Spurs in the postseason.
The Warriors are sick of hearing they were lucky.
Friday Klay Thompson fired back at Rivers, via CSNBayArea.com.
– “I wanted to play the Clippers last year, but they couldn’t handle their business.”
– “If we got lucky, look at our record against them last year (Warriors 3-1). I’m pretty sure we smacked them.”
– “Didn’t they lose to the Rockets? Exactly. So haha. That just makes me laugh. That’s funny. Weren’t they up 3-1 too?”
– “Yeah, tell them I said that. That’s funny. That’s funny.”
Warriors big man Andrew Bogut phrased it differently.
If you think the Warriors just won because they were lucky — you are dead wrong.
They were the best team in the NBA last season, bar none. They won 67 regular season games in a tough conference, then beat everyone in their path to win a title. Did they catch some breaks along the way, particularly with health? You bet. Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant didn’t win a title without catching some breaks along the way, either. Nobody does. Luck plays a role, but it was not the primary factor in why the Warriors are champs.
All this talk of them getting lucky is fuel for the fire they needed not to be complacent this season. Way to give the defending champs bulletin board material, Doc.
Dwyane Wade has earned his status as an elder statesman, the E.F. Hutton kind of veteran who speaks and everybody listens.
Rookie Justise Winslow is listening.
Winslow (who should have gone higher in this draft) is a perfect fit for the Heat and he’s going to be part of their rotation off the bench from the start of the season (along with Josh McRoberts and Amare Stoudemire). Wade has already fully stepped into the mentor role with Winslow working with him on post moves, reports Jason Lieser at the Palm Beach Post.
“As his career develops, hopefully he’s able to do multiple things on the floor, but right now there’s gonna be certain things (Erik Spoelstra) wants him to do, and some of those things I’m good at,” Wade said. “I’m just passing down knowledge to someone who I think could be good at things that I have strengths at. It’s gonna take a while, but if he figures it out at 21, he’s ahead of the curve. I figured it out at like 27.
“All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped us. They helped by letting us sit there and watch film with them or having conversations with them. If he’s a student of it and he really wants to know, I’m a pretty decent teacher in certain areas.”
This is what you want out of a veteran leader and some of the young teams out there have done an excellent job adding this kind of mentor — Kevin Garnett in Minnesota may be the best example. Someone who can pass on his wisdom and show the team’s young players how to be a professional and win in the NBA.
It’s a little different for Winslow, he and the Heat are more in a win-now mode, but he should be able to contribute to that.