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Interesting pieces about are Raptors

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  • Interesting pieces about are Raptors

    Raptors Still Point Guard Shopping?

    The hiring of head coach Dwane Casey signaled a significant turning point in the Toronto Raptors’ rebuilding process. His expectations and focus on the defensive end of the floor will help the team move closer to the playoffs, and his impact is already being felt. That said, there are still some roster issues that must be addressed, and point guard continues to be as area of concern.

    “Guard play is clearly one of the true focal points of successful teams, and point guard in particular,” Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo tells HOOPSWORLD. “When you’ve got a guy who can run a team and push the ball and get a team into their offense, but be a coach on the floor, it’s clearly the head of the snake if you will. We’ve got two very solid guards that are competing right now against each other and for us and as we continue to evaluate where they are. You’ve got guys at different points of their career, obviously. Jose comes in with a lot more experience, many more point guard instincts are in play. He’s had success at this level, but also on the international level, so he’s the incumbent walking in. Jerryd obviously is more of a scoring point guard, or a scoring guard that is still learning certain aspects of point guard play and decision making and I think sometimes you might even see him play a little bit tentative because he’s trying to feel both out. There’s no doubt that he can go in and score very quickly and put points up on the board but he’s being asked to make better decisions and be more of a point guard and he kind of finds himself in between sometimes but love his talent, love his work ethic, love his focus, love his athleticism, his strength, love his ability to defend the ball, so he’s got a chance. He’s got a chance to be that guy for us in the future, and again it’s nice to kind of have a coach who can relate to him and talk to him everyday and continue to motivate him. But as we move forward are we still looking for that point guard of the future? Yeah, I think that’s something that we’ve got to be discussing. Whether or not Jerryd’s that guy is still an unknown, but we’re not ruling it out.”

    (For more on Jerryd Bayless’ development, read here!)

    For all of the talk about trading Jose Calderon, including one failed attempt to send him to Charlotte, the seventh-year guard is off to a great start this season. Through five games he’s averaging 12.0 points and 9.8 assists per contest, while shooting 49% overall and 47% from three. We’re not exactly talking Jason Kidd territory, but it could very well be that Casey’s coaching style will help Calderon raise his game to another level. He has another year at roughly $10.6 million left on his contract, so the Raptors’ best option may be to maximize Calderon and then look for a replacement in free agency or via the draft once his contract expires.

    The other area of concern for the Raptors is the front court, where Andrea Bargnani is taking his game to a new level, but still needs a front court partner. The Raptors believe they filled that need when they drafted Jonas Valančiūnas last summer. The 6’11″ 240-pound center won’t be able to join the Raptors until next season due to a $2.5 million buyout with Lietuvos Rytas, but they love what they’ve been seeing from him in international play. Last month he was named the Lithuanian Basketball Player Of The Year.

    “We’re pretty excited about obviously what he was able to accomplish this past summer,” says Colangelo. “Now he’s playing back in the league. His team did not qualify for the Euroleague, they did qualify for the Eurocup competition. He’s done very well. I think early on he suffered a minor setback with a calf injury but, it just limited some of his playing time, but we’ve very excited obviously about what his potential is and about where he is as a player and where he’s coming. I think he was a little burned out just from the repeated competition, the back-to-back world championship under nineteen, to the Euro championship and it was something that he had to recover from, emotionally and physically, but I think he is a very bright spot on our future horizon. As you look at him potentially being a cornerstone five in this league, he’s got a chance – we’re not going to anoint him anything – he’s got a chance to be special. Now it’s up to us to make sure we take the necessary steps and preparation for him to come into the league next year, healthy, ready to go, understanding the concepts and principles. There’s work being done to establish that foundation now in preparation for next year.”

    Sounds a lot like the Raptors as a team, doesn’t it? They have a lot of work to do, and next year is expected to be the year when they make radical improvements. A full year under Dwane Casey will help, the addition of Valančiūnas will help even more, and having another decent draft pick in next summer very deep NBA draft will be the icing on the cake. Even so, the Raptors have made measurable improvements already through just five games, so the darkest times seem to be behind them.

  • #2
    The Raptors have gotten a lot of virtual ink the last couple of days at Nice to see even if many of the articles are being written by people looking at boxscores rather than watching the games.

    It is very interesting the idea Calderon having more success under Casey. A slower offense and more team help defensive schemes (especially once the zone gets introduced) might actually help with the nagging groin/hammy injuries he has had over the years. I'm not certain of this but it is an interesting prospect. Next to his contract, that is what I have given him the most grief over. However if he can play at his current level, his contract isn't that bad - still a little steep but not ridiculous.


    • #3
      The BC quote about Bayless kind of stuck between two approaches (me-first, scoring tons of points and providing instant offence) vs getting everyone involved, and as a result being tentative and struggling, is very telling. JB looks like he's in agony out there. He really doesn't have a clue how to play pg. Pounds the ball on the perimeter, kills his dribble, makes risky and contested passes along the perimeter...I mean, night and day compared to José, who's like an effing maestro out there (more on José in a sec). JB should embrace his inner Vinnie Microwave Johnson: provide a jolt of offence by driving and pulling up, driving and dishing off, or driving and scoring. He shouldn't even TRY to be a point guard. If they would just let him be himself, he could be a valuable contributor in 15 minutes off the bench, changing the flow of the game. As for José, why do you think Bargs is having such a great year on offence, and why is DD getting all those open looks at 3s, and so on and so forth? José is my team MVP by a LONG stretch. And playing not just passable, but good defence as well. @Matt52, his contract isn't bad at all. It's completely value for money; at least, this year it is. And BC will be receiving a lot of offers for him at the trading deadline. Would I accept a mid-first-rounder and a solid young swingman for him? You bet I would.