As if anyone needed a reminder on how pathetic the Raptors were in making stops, Wednesday’s roll call of the NBA’s shut-down defenders reinforced Toronto’s sad state.
Not a single player on the Raptors received a single vote in balloting confined to the league’s head coaches.
This isn’t some media-driven popularity contest where agendas rule.
This is as transparent a process as you can get given the inherent problems, but it all speaks to how much work lies ahead this off-season.
For the second straight year, no Raptor player, regardless of position or pedigree, got even a sniff.
One has to go back three years to find the last time a Raptor received even one vote, a dishonor that falls on the lap of Chris Bosh.
Since the Raptors were hatched in 1995, no player has ever appeared on the league’s first or second all-defensive teams.
Since the inaugural 1995-96 season, the Raptors have been in the rarest of categories, joining Dallas, Milwaukee, Golden State, L.A. Clippers and the Memphis/Vancouver Grizzlies as the only teams not to feature a player among the league’s top 10.
Over the years, though, there have been players whose primary intention wasn’t just to heave shots, with names such as Doug Christie, Antonio Davis and Charles Oakley front and centre when it comes to league-wide recognition.
Over the years, Keon Clark’s athleticism, Jerome Williams’ determination, Alvin Williams’ heart and Jorge Garbajosa’s grit provided some semblance of a defensive personality.
Of the many flaws that plagued this year’s Raptors, one was the team’s obvious deficiency at the defensive end.
There was a stretch where they played well on defence, but it came only when players were knocking down shots with regularity.
Antoine Wright had his moments of defending the perimeter, but he’s a free agent this summer and it’s highly doubtful he will return.
Andrea Bargnani developed into a better man-to-man defender, but it’s well documented on how poorly he adopted as a help-side defender.
Sonny Weems has the length and athleticism to defend three positions, but he’s a work in progress.
Offensively, the Raptors have enough pieces to score, but defence separates teams and it clearly was an issue that never was cleaned up.
Whether it’s schemes, coaching, personnel, personality, something must change this coming season for the Raptors to change their fortunes.
As the team continues its soul-searching, one would have to think that every option is being considered.
Certainly, getting a point guard to defend the first line of attack is imperative.
Equally imperative is figuring out a sign-and-trade scenario involving Bosh in the event the face of the franchise does what many are predicting, which is to say that’s he’s leaving.
Bosh is the one asset who could fetch a piece capable of either defending the perimeter or the paint.
Depending on the day and the credibility of the media outlet, Bosh’s name has been linked with the Knicks, who were so good defensively that they tied for third-last with the Raptors in allowing an average of 105.9 points, Bulls, Lakers, Rockets and Thunder.
Chicago, L.A., Houston and Oklahoma City each has defensive pieces that would be valued in Toronto, assuming Bosh does bolt and does help the Raptors in a sign and trade.
Nothing, of course, is on the horizon, but the July 1 free-agent clock is ticking.
Somehow, someway, the Raptors have to get better defensively and one of the ways may involve Bosh.
Unless you’re the Phoenix Suns and feature a team with a point guard of Steve Nash’s talent, you have to defend to play at this time of the season.
The only member of this year’s first all-defensive team not currently in the playoffs is Gerald Wallace, whose Bobcats were swept by the Magic.
Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant was selected for the fifth straight year, while Boston’s Rajon Rondo made the first team for the first time, earning the second-most points behind the league’s defensive player of the year in Orlando’s Dwight Howard.
Two-time league MVP LeBron James of the Cavs made it for the second straight year.
The Raptors, meanwhile, are waiting for a first.