As most of you are probably aware, John Hollinger is an ESPN NBA writer/personality and stat head who is best known for establishing P.E.R. or “Player Efficiency Rating,” an advanced statistic that has become as recognizable (and more dependable) as almost as any basic stat in basketball. In other words, to the modern day basketball fan, Hollinger’s a pretty big name.

But to DeMar DeRozan, Hollinger is just the “clown” who predicted the Raptors would finish a disappointing 12th place in the Eastern Conference with a 33-49 record. DeRozan wasn’t the first member of the Raptors to mention Hollinger’s name though, as earlier on Wednesday, Dwane Casey talked about how the not so flattering projection should motivate the team to work harder, calling Hollinger’s prediction a sign of “how much lack of respect the league has for us.”

To some, Casey’s and DeRozan’s response might seem petty, but I actually appreciate the fire. All too often, you hear from pro athletes, coaches and managers who claim that they don’t even bother to notice what others are saying about them and their team, or that what others do say about them means little. I like the fact that Casey and DeRozan publicly acknowledged either reading or hearing about Hollinger’s writeup, and the fact that they seem irked by it.

You don’t necessarily have to put any stock in it, you certainly don’t have to believe it, but as a professional athlete, a big name media personality questioning your team’s ability should at the very least motivate you, and there’s nothing wrong with admitting that new found motivation, though I suppose you can do so without resorting to name calling.

I hope that DeRozan isn’t alone in his frustration, I hope other members of the Raptors feel insulted, and if coach Casey can use negative projections to motivate his team, I hope he scours the internet for more Raptors related insults (Lord knows there’s enough out there) until even Andrea Bargnani, the king of critical indifference, is ready to attack, as I honestly do believe a more motivated team or group of players can be good for a few extra wins.

But that’s also the sticking point. Motivation alone won’t be enough to prove doubters wrong. Sure, a team good enough to win 33 games might be able to bump that total to 35 or 36, maybe even 37, on motivation and extra effort alone, but at the end of the day, with an assist from team chemistry and health, talent will usually be the key determinant of a team’s fate in a given season.

So sure, it’s great to see DeRozan angered and hopefully motivated by Hollinger’s 33-win prediction for the Raptors, but he and the team have to be good enough to prove Hollinger and other naysayers wrong, not just motivated enough. And that brings about the real question. Is this Raptors team good enough? Are they good enough to actually make something tangible out of that motivation, because a few good acquisitions and better defence isn’t enough to suddenly make the league take notice, nor should it be.

DeMar, especially, has a lot to prove this year, and at the end of the season (I’m assuming they won’t extend him by the October 31st deadline), the organization is going to have to make a decision on whether to extend him or let him loose. When that time comes, DeRozan will have to have proven that he’s a worthwhile player for the future, not just a motivated one.

If DeRozan and others can’t prove their worth, the pre-season talk and the scoffing at names like Hollinger will mean little, and will only add to the lack of respect Casey and the rest of us Raptors fans are painfully aware exists right now.

I like the chip on their shoulder attitude, now just go win some basketball games.

***

On a sidenote, this year’s edition of the annual General Managers’ survey had barely any mention of the Raptors in any major categories, but did feature some recognition. Kyle Lowry received a vote for most underrated acquisition, Terrence Ross and Quincy Acy received votes for being among the most athletic rookies (just as they did here), with Ross also receiving a vote under the category of which rookie could be a sleeper success.

The most noticeable Raptor mentioned in the GM survey was none other than Jonas Valanciunas, who was one of only four players to receive a vote for which rookie would be the best player in five years, while leading the way (with 17.2% of the vote) in the category of international player most likely to break out this season. You see, Valanciunas really is our beacon of hope, here to rescue us from that aforementioned lack of respect!

Comments (12)

  1. I listened to BS report with Bill Simmons yesterday, they were doing over/unders and went lock on the over 33 games. So not all the media is sleepin on the raptors. Which is a nice change.

    • Yeah, I’ve definitely noticed that more media people are paying attention to the Raptors heading into this season than a lot of other seasons, with many calling them a team on the rise, a team to watch, or a sleeper candidate. Really, only Hollinger and Vegas bookies are listing them around 33, so it’s kind of funny that DeRozan took so much exception to it.

  2. Just placed a nice size bet that they have a strong change of winning more then 33 games if healthy.

  3. Where can I bet on the 33 over/under?

  4. If they need John Hollinger to motivate them on any level, it’s a shame.

    • Yeah, it just comes across more pathetic than passionate. You’re one of the worst handful of franchises in the league over the last decade, accomplish something even relatively noteworthy and you’ll get respect but to ask for it preemptively is just kind of sad.

      • Just finished reading “The Dream Team.” The greatest basketball players in history took offense at far lesser slights than this to motivate themselves in some of the biggest games of their careers. There’s nothing petty, embarassing, or even unique about it. Par for the course for a pro athlete to find a little extra motivation wherever he/she can.

      • The thing is, people tend to hold professional athletes to a funny standard. We see MJ and Kobe’s drive and think that every athlete should be like that.

        But when you do something professionally, as you likely know (if you’re an adult, at least), you tend to eventually become less excited and emotional about your job.

        That’s not to say you don’t like (or even love it), but it’s similar to how people think about creative jobs like novel writing, or being a musician. People think, “wouldn’t it be amazing to do that for a living?” But to do it at that level you have to turn it into work; you have to work VERY hard at it, not just do it “for fun.”

        At that point, something that seems fun and exciting to people who do it casually becomes something you do in a more cold and calculated fashion. On any given play in a game, a player who plays for 30+ minutes probably goes at 75% to 90%. If something happens to motivate them (e.g., final minutes of a close game, or an opponent is talking trash to them and firing them up), they’ll give you 100%.

        That’s just reality. You can sit there and judge them as being pathetic all you want (possibly doing it while you’re supposed to be doing something else at 100%), but until you’ve had to do what they do for a living, you cannot possibly have an accurate perspective of what it takes for them to motivate themselves.

        Given that reality, I say they should go ahead and use whatever they can and want to motivate themselves.

        On a related note, I expect guys like Jonas and Lowry, who don’t seem to know how to go at any less than 90%, to bring up the intensity of others as well. Because getting shown up for lack of effort is embarrassing, which tends to motivate most people. And considering those are two of our most talented players, they can DEFINITELY embarrass someone who is slacking at practice. Heck, we’ve already seen them embarrass opponents that way.

  5. Headline: Players disagree with low prediction of their team!

    In other news, Republicans believe Mitt Romney will win Presidency, Lance Armstrong claims he’s innocent and sun seems to disappear during the night.

  6. I don’t think it’s a big deal. I’m not sure why people are getting on Derozan for being more motivated, who cares? As long as the guy plays hard it shouldn’t matter what his internal incentives are. As for the prediction, I think it’s relatively accurate. I don’t see raps winning more than 36 games max – especially given their division.

  7. Hollinger has a decent chance of being right, but his PER stat is crap and should be ignored.

  8. They sure proved Hollinger wrong. They won 34 games instead of 33.

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