“It’s embarrassing. I don’t like it. I’m not used to it and I’m not going to stand for it. We all have to get better.”
- Jerryd Bayless after the Raptors 110-93 loss to the Chicago Bulls
After the Raptors 110-93 loss to the Chicago Bulls last night, it was clear that Jerryd Bayless was frustrated. He didn’t hold back while talking to the media, letting it be known that he would not stand for the type of loss Toronto just endured. Unfortunately for Bayless –and for the disgruntled and disillusioned Raptors fans who felt it was appropriate to boo at the end of the game– there isn’t a lot he can do to change things.
Anyone looking at the Raptors roster for their game against the Bulls last night could see that the Raptors were clearly overmatched. Without their starting point guard Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani, their leading scorer and the most difficult guy for opponents to game plan for, the remaining Raptors were a team going in a lot of directions without any direction.
While Bayless provides a scoring boost and the ability to attack the rim and get to the foul line, he cannot make up for the other things this roster lacks. Sometimes, though, he tries, and the results have been mixed. When he’s feeling it, he puts points on the board or racks up the free throws (like the 31-point performance against Detroit where he went to the line 12 times). When he isn’t, the offense is stalled and he puts up an ugly 1-for-9 or 2-for-10 stat line.
With a team that needs to focus on developing its players as much as it needs to look at wins and losses, it’s a tough situation for the players, especially those not used to being on a young team that is a constant work-in-progress. Coming to Toronto, Bayless gets more opportunity than he’s ever had before. The price of that opportunity is playing for a team that’s focused on the future. My greatest hope is that Bayless remains frustrated when he feels his team is not performing up to their ability, but that he grows to recognize what their capabilities and limitations are so that the losing doesn’t beat him down too much. It would be also nice if his high standards could rub off on teammates who may have become numb to some of the sting that comes with the losing, ensuring that every game is played by a roster of guys playing up to their potential.
I love the intensity with which Bayless plays. I love that he takes matters into his own hands when things are not working or when his teammates are content to stand around the perimeter and wait for something to happen. I just worry a bit when I hear comments like the ones he made last night, because as much as I respect his desire to not get used to losing, I hope he’s got more patience than his comments show.
If not, he might be in for a long winter.