Alston shooting blanks

Rafer Alston during Raptors' practice at the ACC.   (SUN/Stan Behal)

Rafer Alston during Raptors' practice at the ACC. (SUN/Stan Behal)

STEVE BUFFERY, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

Raptors point guard Rafer Alston is shooting 38% from the field, the lowest percentage on the team. He also has taken the most shots, 444 in 37 games.

Alston is a streaky shooter. But still, to most NBA insiders, he should be shooting better than 38%. It's been suggested that his shot selection, not his shooting, is the real problem.

The Raptors, as a team, are playing more of an up-tempo game this year with the emphasis on getting the ball down the floor quickly and getting off the good shot. The problem is, Toronto often shoots too quickly, from long range. The Raptors are a team that falls in love with the three-point shot, as was the case in Philadelphia on Friday night when they attempted 32 from beyond the arc, missing 22. Toronto is fourth in the NBA in three-point attempts. And leading the team in shots from beyond the arc with 207 (Morris Peterson is second on the team in three-point attempts with 139), is the aforementioned Alston.

"What do you want me to say?" Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell snapped, when asked if his starting point guard is shooting the ball too often at the wrong time, from the wrong place. "I'm not going to say what you want me to say. Rafer and I talk about a lot of things, I'll leave it at that.

"Yeah, you're getting stonewalled," Mitchell added. "Because if I say it, you're not going to write it the way it should be written. It's going to end up being a negative. And it's going to end up making me look like I'm criticizing my point guard. And I'm not criticizing him. What Rafer and I talk about behind closed doors is between Rafer and I. It's not for me to stand here in print and on camera and critique one of the guys who's going out and busting his hump for me every night, and doing a pretty good job."

Mitchell was asked if it would be correct to write that Alston's shot selection has been questionable.

YOU FIGURE IT OUT

"It's not for me to tell you how to do your job," he said. "I'm telling you that I talk to my point guards about a lot of things and we put a lot of responsibility on them and they're getting better. They all have strengths and weaknesses, but one thing I'm not going to do is divulge what Rafer and I or any player talks about behind closed doors. I can't do it."

Fortunately, Alston did address the issue and suggested that, yes, his decision-making with the ball needs to improve. To his credit, Alston has developed into one of the best guards in the league in terms of feeding the ball to his teammates for easy baskets, averaging seven assists per outing.

"It's a situation where I have to get better at knowing the time, score and situation," he said, adding that his assists output could be higher.


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