Apr 13, 2014; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Chuck Hayes (44) sits on the bench in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

How the Raptors can become the Beast of the East [Part 2]

 

May 2, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Jose Calderon (8) reacts after hitting a three point shot during the game against the San Antonio Spurs in game six of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

In our first discussion, I reviewed what the Toronto Raptors did to propel themselves into an envious position in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. This time, I want to look ahead more, and consider further moves GM Masai Ujiri may try. Here’s a fun fact: What does current Rap Chuck Hayes have in common with former stalwarts like Chris Childs, Jorge Garbajosa, Jose Calderon, Mike James and Jamario Moon? They were all undrafted (as were a bunch of thanks-for-showing-up guys like Ben Uzoh, Milt Palacio, John Lucas III and Pops Mensah-Bonsu). Looking over the entire list of undrafted players who made the NBA, and it’s a long one, we find quality players like Timofey Mozgov, Jeremy Lin, Brad Miller, Ben Wallace and Mirza Teletovic (boo!). What’s my point? There’s lots of talent on the planet; we need to find it. Once we do, it needs to be signed, brought to training camp, and given a place to play, like…a D-League team! The New York Knicks have contracted to create the D-League’s 18th team, which will play out of the basketball hotbed of White Plains, New York. I look forward to reading the attendance figures for that squad. [20-second timeout: The team's name will be decided by the fans. I'm thinkin' - the PrivateSchoolers!...no, the SoccerMoms!...here's a reach - the GoldiePoos! (you need to be a dog person)] We still are waiting for the African pipeline to funnel undrafted talent to the Raps. Masai Ujiri, who’s Nigerian-born, has attended Afrobasket, their continental championship, for decades. The only player to receive even a shot at making the Raps was Angola’s Carlos Morais, and he was cut late in training camp. Would Carlos have stayed on this side of the Atlantic if the Raps had a meaningful place for him to play? I don’t know (he’s an established player in African pro ball, and was MVP of Afrobasket 2013), but he might have, if his NBA dream was strong enough. There it is, Rapture Nation: our team (no, our organization) needs more players from more places, and somewhere for them to hone their skills. The big team won’t be damaged if players know there are some pretty talented people a short plane ride away. Kyle Lowry’s big ’13-’14 season is being viewed in some circles as a nothing more than a contract-year ploy, and once he’s signed for big money, he’ll return to being just OK. Me, I don’t care so much what motivates players to produce their best, just that they do. If knowing a week of indifferent play will produce a benching or a demotion keeps a player sharp, so be it. Any more ideas? Drop me a Comment, please.

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