Yes, I know. I can hear it already:
“Are you (bleeping) crazy?? JOEY (bleeping) GRAHAM?!”
It’s true…He was maddeningly inconsistent and excruciating to deal with at times. His midrange jumper would come and go as it pleased, and he loved to channel his inner-Jamario and settle for those same jumpers.
He’s also extremely athletic and possesses some nice basketball skills. If only he could use them all the time (and he can’t)… Graham certainly didn’t earn the “Good Joey, Bad Joey” label for nothing.
But hear me out.
Look, the Raptors teams of the past few years have been pretty unique within the NBA when it comes to shooting guards and small forwards. And by unique, I mean shitty.
What that means is that aside from the point guards (Calderon, Ford) and the big men (Bosh, Bargnani), there’s been absolutely nobody to initiate offense.
The result was that players were now being asked to
a) play more minutes than they should (or deserved)
b) take on roles unsuited for their skill sets
Think about Jason Kapono for a moment – A bust of a contract, yes, but think about his role on the Raptors. Jason freaking Kapono was actually expected to be a scorer for an NBA team…Ya, I wonder why that didn’t work out.
This year, all he’ll be asked to do is shoot. The 76ers have plenty of slashers and need a guy like Kapono to come in the game, chill at the arc, and nail triples. It’ll work, just watch.
Joey’s in a similar sort of situation. Clearly, he’s a bust in terms of where he was picked and the expectations that were laid out. Still, he’s shown signs of improving, which is when the trouble happens.
Every time Graham began to play better, he would eventually get more minutes. And they would continue to grow as the Raps searched for somebody…anybody…who wasn’t pathetic scoring from the 2-guard or small forward spot.
The problem is that Joey isn’t made for 25-35 minutes a night. He just simply doesn’t posses the basketball IQ/drive/whatever to be a big part of a successful NBA lineup.
What he does have is the ability to positively impact the game over a short period of time, and that’s what I’m proposing. Screw Carlos Delfino, who wants $5 per season. He’s not even a small forward, and that’s the real position of need for Toronto – to have someone backing up Hedo Turkoglu for 10-12 minutes each night.
I’m telling you – Joey Graham would be perfect for this role. Don’t ask him to do more, and just enjoy the energy and toughness he’ll bring for short spurts each night. Yes, guys like Von Wafer and Flip Murray are better scorers, but the Raps have addressed those needs this summer. They need some size and toughness backing up the 3 and Devean George won’t cut it.
This is my official “Sign Joey 2009″ campaign. And he’ll be really, really cheap.
It sure beats the “Sign Carlos Delfino to a ridiculous contract” scenario that just might happen in the coming days.
Oh, and sign Rasho while you’re at it, BC.