Generally the big verdict on the Raptors is we're too soft, too european. Now while both those things may be true, the problem to me seems to be not the fact that our players are too soft, i think it's just the style of play. In today's NBA toughness is a virtue, but lets face it, it's a rarity. Last years lakers won the title and with the exception of fish and kobe, nobody else is/was tough on that team and their identity was certainly not toughness. In fact, even the hawks who destroyed us in recent history are by no means a "tough" team. Within all the NBA, I would dare to venture that toughness is really only evident in the celtics and the rockets, and to a lesser degree perhaps in 2-3 other teams. Toughness is nice, but talent is more important to the real winners. After all, the playoffs are a different animal, nobody rolls over in the playoffs anyways. So for arguments sake, if toughness isn't the raptor problem, what is?
It's easy to blame the coaches, the players, the schedule and the athleticism but I think the problem is more in our seflessness. It's something that occurred to me when I read something Yao said about how when he was playing international, it wasn't good to stand out from the team and so coaches frowned upon players dunking and putting the eyes on them. When he came to the rockets, they wanted him to dunk everything and so they made it that whenever he layed the ball in instead of dunking, his teammates would run laps.
I combined this with something I read about some player in europe who played against Jennings when he had 12-15 points in one quarter. The exact details may be wrong because it was a while ago but his opinion was that jennings scoring 50+ was no surprise because scoring 12-15 in a quarter of Euroball is even more unheard of. That kind of play is deemed selfish and frowned upon.
Those two alone made me think seems to be the root of our problems. How many times have we seen jose or belineli pump fake on very open shots whereas a more selfish player might have taken those shots. It always strikes me when we play against other teams like the nuggets for example. JR knows his range and is willing to take 5-6 shots in a row while i don't know any player other than Bosh has done that. Billups constantly walks the ball up for a straight away three pointer. Again, this has never happened with this team.
Jose is our best shooter and should not care if he takes 10 shots in a quarter. If they're open, I can safely say, any raptor fan would live with his shot. Hedo is our second best player but defers to almost everyone on the court. Both players need to be selfish. Meanwhile we see Weems and Wright having no hesitation to jack up as many shots as they can. Even when Jack was shooting bricks, he never hesitated to shoot it. One thing that stands out to me about the raptors is you never really see anyone other than Bosh go off for big games. We're too much of a TEAM for that. Our best games are when everyone is in double digits rather than 2-3 guys having monster games.
The worst part of this is that the solution is that we need to change how players have been playing for most of their life. I don't even know how to begin to spread that kind of message to the players but hopefully someone in that organization does. I for one am sick of our reluctance to shoot open shots. Too many times does it let the defense recover to our shooters and forces one of our poorer shooters to take a still open shot. At the end of the day, I would have lived with Jose our Bargnani or Hedo taking the more open one earlier in the shot clock. But then again, I'm not afraid to stand out.