Are the Raps that bad?

So. Here we are early in the season and the Toronto Raptors have a 3-9 record. Are they really that bad? Actually, no, not really. They have a ton of issues, yes, but they are not as bad as everyone seems to think.

The lineup of Lowry, DeRozan, McGuire, Bargnani and Jonas V is actually a fairly solid group. That lineup packs a scoring punch but for some reason rarely take to the floor all together for very long.

Coach Dwane Casey has made some bizarre rotations during the course of games thus far this season, especially in the fourth quarter. One of the most notable of these is that he keeps leaving in the lineup of Jose, DeMar, Andrea, Amir and Lowry.

Simply put, that’s not the lineup that will close out games for you.

Jose and Andrea can’t play defence. We all know this. As soon as the younger, quicker, stronger point guard gets by Jose, who’s the next line of defence? Bargnani?! And people wonder why the Raps keeping getting throttled in the fourth quarter on defence.

And for some reason, even when he’s hot, the team resists going to DeRozan to close out the game. This is absolute madness! DeRozan has worked very hard on his game and has shown this season that he is clearly capable of taking over and making a lot of shots down the stretch. He should be the closer for this team. The only other player acceptable to take the role of closer this season that I’ve seen is Lowry; but he’s still rusty after being injured for a time.

It is also important to note that the Raptors have lost a few games now due to very bad calls made by the referees. DeMar is a great example of one of the Raptors who gets knocked around the most; almost every time he drives to the basket. I’d say he gets a call about 68% of the time. Recently, the same thing has been happening to Jonas V as well and it’s making him look soft in the paint, even though he’s clearly not at all.

This actually got so bad that the NBA recognized that the refs had missed a huge call late in a game where the Raptors were playing the Bobcats. Bargnani was taking a jump shot and was obviously fouled on the wrist by Kidd-Gilchrist, which the refs simply let go.

It’s things like this that reveal how little respect the Raps actually have in the NBA. And ever since Bosh left to create the Big 3 in Miami, it has gotten even worse. It’s almost as if the refs are expecting the Raps to lose and that giving them a call once in a while just wouldn’t make sense.

The Raptors’ less-than-adequate record isn’t merely due to things things, but they sure are a big part of it. Hopefully, the team will get the rotations and personal things sorted out. I’d really like to see DeMar getting those late opportunities. But as for the rest, I fear that the Raps will forever be a team with little-to-no respect from the NBA officials.

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Peskor and Beyond…?

I’ve been thinking about making some form of little short stories in the world that Peskor resides in. In Relik, you only get to see Peskor, since that’s the country they’re in.

Perhaps I should show the expanded parts of that world. And then I could tell tales of other things going on at the same or different times. I have no idea if they’d have any relation to the story or characters in my novel though.

But it might be fun, just to make little shorts come from that world as I make my new one. Just something to give a little more insight, not that it’ll ever be seriously considered.

Oh well, overall it’s just an idea. Ideas lead to a great many things. Some good and others, well…

Are the Knicks legit?

I’ve been thinking about this for a little bit now. I mean, it’s a legit question, right? Could the Knicks be good enough to reach The Finals? They’ve jumped out to a great 7-1 record early this season and ‘Melo is looking primed to take his team as far as he can. So what’s my answer to the question?

Hahahahahahaha. No.

Sure, Anthony is always going to play well and his numbers are going to stay high. He’ll be an MVP candidate all season like he usually is and he will try to push his team to its limits in any way he can. Good on him.

Raymond Felton is playing much better this year as well. He was out of shape in the lockout shortened season last year and he just looked silly trying to guard those other point guards. But now that he’s playing well, it’s helping to heal the wound of trading away Jeremy Lin. As did the trade for Jason Kidd.

Mike Woodson is a great coach too, don’t get me wrong. I’ve loved what I’ve seen from him so far and at the tail end of last season. But he knows they’ve got a lot more work to do to contend with the likes of Miami, Boston and an upcoming Brooklyn team.

Here’s where the Knicks major issues lie. In a guy named Amar’e Stoudemire. He’s injured right now and the Knicks are playing great ball. Coincidence? I think not. The exact same thing happened last year several times. When he’s out, ‘Melo fits his role better, leading the team and scoring at will as the offence flows through him.

But ah, therein lies the rub. When both ‘Melo and Stoudemire take to the floor, the team changes completely. They no longer have that ‘flow’ that they do when Stoudemire is gone. Each of them try to play a little game of, “Now it’s my turn, now it’s your turn” basketball. And that just won’t cut it.

What can you do? You can’t get rid of Stoudemire due to his contract and there’s no way that New York will give up Anthony. But the two just don’t play well together.

So, what if somehow the Knicks enter the post-season without Stoudemire’s interference? Well, we’ve already seen this movie. Anthony does need help. There is no way he can handle the load by himself in a 7 game series against a juggernaut like Miami. He just can’t do it. We’ve seen him score huge numbers against the Heat in the playoffs the past two seasons. But he’s come up short every time because he needs someone else by his side.

The problem is, S.T.A.T. is not the guy he needs.

The two just don’t compliment each other at all. And this is why, no matter what, the New York Knicks will not be going to The Finals this season unless something drastic happens. They might cause an uproar or two, but they still can’t seriously contend with the big boys when they’re still dealing with how to play their two stars.

Sorry, New York, but you’ve still got work to do.

Creating a World… Again.

Creating a world is hard. Like, a lot harder than you think. I mean, sure, you could make a world pretty quick. Just think of a crazy name, slap it on an imaginary piece of land and then say, “This is my world! Cool things are gonna happen here!”

Trust me, I used to think that way too.

However, now that I’m in university and reached a point where fantasy is actually taken very seriously, it’s not so easy anymore. When this guy named Scott Bakker came into my fantasy fiction course, he literally blew my mind with the depth he put into the world he had created for his novels. I mean, this dude created philosophers that wrote books, then he took quotes from the books that his philosophers wrote and placed them right before the start of every chapter. Each one has relevance to the chapter following it.

That’s some crazy stuff, man. I’ll let you know when I get to the point of making my own philosophers that write books within my book. It’s probably also good to note that this guy has a Ph.D. Just sayin’.

In my first novel, Relik, I created a world. I called it Peskor. It’s a pretty typical world. But I made that novel for young teenagers, probably about the ages of 13-15, just because that’s the age I was when I started writing it. The story evolves a bit as it goes on, but it is really rather simple.

And that’s all well and good. But now I want more then simple. I want the sort of depth Bakker has. Or at least close.

So, I’m making a new world. Again. I’ve spent more time on this one than any other I’ve ever thought about or written down before. It’s actually rather exciting. This one is going to be the basis for my next novel, of which I probably shouldn’t say too much about, unlike I did with Relik.

This book is far more adult, and I wasn’t really sure it would be until I wrote the first scene. Which is very, very dark. But it had to be. The story begins in a dark place. I like my new world, though. It already has a used, ancient feel to it. Like an old book that you’re opening to discover its secrets; only this one is new.

It’s all rather exciting, I suppose. It’s difficult creating a new world, but definitely worth it. Hopefully, when I finish the first story to come from it, people will be just as captivated by it as I am. If you enjoyed Peskor, this will be a real treat.

Stay tuned.

Top 5 MVP Candidates 2012-13

Both LBJ and ‘Melo made the cut

Since this is my first post about the NBA on here, I think I’ll start it with my top five candidates for the 2012-13 MVP award. Here we go:

1. LeBron James – This guy is the best player on the planet and at the height of his basketball powers right now. With an even deeper team than last year due to the additions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, LeBron is still averaging 24.8ppg, 9.2rpg and 6.8apg so far this season. The only reason people won’t vote for him is because they’ve grown tired of voting for him.

2. Chris Paul – He is one of the absolute best leaders in the game today. He has a killer instinct like few other players in the league have got right now. Combine that with his unselfishness with the ball and his extremely high basketball IQ and Paul is once again, in the conversation.

3. Carmelo Anthony – Whether you think he can play defence or not, ‘Melo belongs in this conversation as well. He’s led his Knicks to an early 6-1 record and is looking strong, even without S.T.A.T. in the lineup. He continually proves to be one of the most difficult-to-guard players in the NBA and hopefully his play will continue at this level; even when Stoudemire returns.

4. Kevin Durant – The Durantula’s team took a big blow when they lost Harden in the deal with Houston, and though many people saw it as a good deal for both teams, it’s clear that OKC has taken a step back. At least, for right now. Durant is still spewing out good numbers, but he’ll have to find that perfect harmony with Westbrook to really get back to being close to winning this award.

5. Rajon Rondo – This kid is playing ball right now. He was a game time decision today against the Raptors and decided to play. The result? He dropped 20 dimes on them in an embarrassing loss for the Toronto team. His 10+ assist streak is still alive and well, and Rondo is really not getting much credit for carrying his Celtics the way he is. They really do only go as far as he takes them.