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It's been far, far too long: New York @ Toronto Preview

Okay sportsfans, let's cut the bologna (I'm looking at you, Carmelo Anthony) and get down to tangibility. Your New York Knicks will face off with our neighbors to the north, the Toronto Raptors, in just one days' time. For a staggering third time in ten years, the Raptors have lost their best player to uncontrollable circumstances and have been left reeling. Let's take a look at what's going on in Toronto, new home of the glorious Leandro Barbosa, and compare how the Knicks match up.

Thank God it's basketball season again.

Let's start at point guard.

Jose Calderon has long been the darling of efficiency buffs, as he sports a borderline martian assist/turnover ratio. Additionally, this Spanish man has always had quite the shot and can pass the hell out of the ball. At his best, he was top-ten in the NBA at both dishing and swishing while taking care of the ball and providing spicy flare. However, that is only the first half of the book; a book whose ending is shitty at defense.

82games says: Point guards who are checked by Jose Calderon sported a 22.6 Player Efficiency Rating in 2009-2010. That is almost exactly one point higher than what Steve Nash posted last season. Steve Nash, who finished eighth in MVP voting last year.

Raymond Felton, if you're reading this, start yourself in Fantasy Basketball.

Now onto shooting dunking guard.

Calling DeMar DeRozan a "shooting" guard would be like calling LeBron James a "small" forward; sure that's his position, but how inaccurate is the inherent description? All things considered, DeRozan shot 16 total threes last year and hit on only four of them. He can't really pass at all and he fouls a lot on defense, but he jumps out of the gym, rebounds pretty well and shoots a respectable percentage. Plus, subjectively, I thought he looked great in summer league.

Bottom line about DeRozan: He's straight-up not as good as Leandrinho.

Small forward.

The Raptors have been remodeled at the small forward position for the 2010-2011 season, getting rid of the old and unsightly (Hedo Turkoglu), and bringing in the new and equally unsightly (Linas Kleiza).

Kleiza has bounced around the planet Earth for the past couple of years, managing to stay gone long enough to make everyone forget his strengths: scoring and rebounding, and his weaknesses: defense and defense. Kleiza was never really good at defending small forwards because he's not fast enough laterally, and it's unlikely he'll be assigned to guard any of the Knicks' bigger guys. So, although Gallo isn't significantly quicker, expect Kleiza to have a hard time guarding him.

A couple notes: Kleiza played this summer for the Lithuanian National team and played fantastically. He led Lithuania to a bronze medal. Also, he once scored 41 points in a game against the Jazz. So...there's that.

Power Forward.

Well, this is awkward. Let's just move on, yeah?

Every single player the Raptors are going to throw at Amar'e Stoudemire can be described, some more than others, as "foul prone." Expect Stoudemire to attempt about 15 free throws courtesy of Amir Johnson, Reggie Evans, David Andersen and Joey Dorsey. Of course, they'll collectively draw a ton of fouls as well, and I can't think of a single player on the team other than maybe Evans who Timo Mozgov can guard, but we'll see, huh?!

Other power forward.

You're not fooling me, Bargnarni! One of Clyde's favorite players to pronounce and one of the league's most femininely-named players, Andrea has historically given the Knicks fits. I can remember, a few years ago, watching Barsh and Bargnarni going apeshit on the Knicks' frontline, who, as Eddy Curry and Malik Rose driven as any team in the NBA, were rendered completely helpless against their midrange attack. Bargnarni takes a lot of flack for being a number one overall and for playing softer than cotton, but he's an extremely talented shooter and can, surprisingly, block the hell out of the basketball. So long as he's dragging big men out to the perimeter, he'll always terrify me.


Let's dance this dance.