Raptors defence rests

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

The results of the voting for the NBA's all-defensive teams shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who followed the misfortunes of the Raptors.

What it should do is underscore just how bad the Raptors were this past season, even though they closed out the year by winning nine of their final 13 games, and just how much work must be done this off-season.

People can talk all they want about playing an up-tempo game, of sharing the basketball, of moving it side to side and taking shots when open looks are presented.

But defence wins and yesterday's revelation that not a single Raptors player received a single vote cast by the NBA's 30 head coaches speaks volumes.

The Raptors weren't alone in being shut out, which shouldn't provide any sense of consolation.

Ten other defensively challenged teams failed to register a vote and not surprisingly none made the playoffs.

The Raptors yielded 100 or more points in 46 games, posting a 10-36 record in those games.

On most nights, the Raptors got exposed because they couldn't defend the perimeter.

A lot of the team's woes start and end with Jose Calderon, who couldn't defend his position and couldn't keep his man in front of him, in part because he played hurt for most of the season.

Even when he's healthy, Calderon is considered to be a below-average defender.

Besides being more aggressive and more willing to take chances when the ball is in his hands, the Spaniard has to get better defensively. Or at least be playing in the same backcourt with an off-guard who can lock up his man.

Andrea Bargnani emerged as the team's leader in blocks, primarily because Jermaine O'Neal was traded to Miami.

Bargnani's post defence has improved, but there's still plenty of work that awaits.

Chris Bosh must also step up defensively after taking a step back this past season.

Bosh, Bargnani and Calderon are considered to be the team's core players.

The Raptors want to acquire tougher pieces this off-season, which would go a long way toward establishing a defensive intensity.

The NBA's voting process precluded coaches from voting for their own players.

Not surprisingly, Dwight Howard led all vote-getters.

Howard became the fifth player in league history to lead the NBA in rebounds and blocks in the same season.

Fittingly, he was the recipient of the league's defensive player of the year award.

Howard's Orlando Magic held opponents to fewer than 100 points 54 times during the regular season, compiling a 43-11 record.

Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Kevin Garnett joined Howard on the first team.

The end for Sheed?

According to a Slam Online report, Rasheed Wallace would rather retire than settle for anything less than $8 million US.

The pending free agent entered the NBA in 1995, when the draft was held in Toronto.

In a league full of loose cannons, none is looser than Wallace, who, when sufficiently motivated, can take over games. As dominant as Detroit was during its six-year run prior to this season's disappointment, it was the presence of Wallace that took the Pistons to another level.

Wallace, who turns 35 in September, earned $13 million last season.

The NBA's economic landscape is about to change and Wallace will be one of many victims, if such a word applies to a group of rich hoopsters.

Raptors pending free agent Shawn Marion earned a little more than $17 million this past season.

He'd be fortunate to make half that amount next season.

Pargo on the go

Jannero Pargo, who played this past season in Russia, is an underrated combo guard who will be courted by several NBA teams.

Don't be surprised if the Raptors aren't among the suitors for his services.

Pargo, an upgrade over Quincy Douby, played in 316 career games in the NBA before he bolted to Russia.

He played five games for the Raptors during the 2003-04 season.

When he last played in the NBA, Pargo was a key reserve for the New Orleans Hornets in 2007-08, when the club won a franchise-record 56 games and advanced to the second round of the post-season.

In 80 games with the Hornets, Pargo averaged 8.1 points and made 65 three-pointers.


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