02-19-2012, 02:55 PM
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Grading the Raptors
Raptors trying to find balance
JOSE Calderon B
At home he’s a terror, averaging more than 14 points and 10 assists per game; on the road he’s below 10 and seven. Still, he’s been a solid scorer who could probably be more aggressive more often. His defensive liabilities haven’t been an issue in a new system. Remains healthy.
DEMAR DEROZAN D
Yes, he’s been on a bit of a scoring tear of late, four games over 20 points in his last six and he’s getting to the free throw line. Still, he hasn’t made that much progress defensively. He’s had a rather inconsistent first half of the season and he remains very much a better athlete than he is a basketball player right now.
JAMES JOHNSON B
One of the more pleasant surprises, even if consistency remains an issue. He’s on track to perhaps lead the team in steals and blocked shots and he’s cut down the costly turnovers that come with trying to do too much. He’s worked himself into the future picture quite well.
ANDREA Bargnani B+
Has missed 19 games with the calf injury but he’s been the best player on the team when he’s been in uniform. Biggest improvement, and by far the most important, is his “engagement” defensively where he’s more active than ever. A breakout season was due and he’s having it.
AMIR JOHNSON C-
Far too few games where he’s had a huge impact, a fact partially attributable to the absence of Andrea Bargnani and the loss of operating space. He’s still active on the glass and still shoots a high percentage, he just needs to be more impactful more often.
AARON GRAY C
He is what he is. Offensively limited, a big imposing presence on defence who sets some bone-rattling screens on offence. In that role — less than 16 minutes a night as some sort of tone-setter — he’s having an average year for a minimum salary big who isn’t seen as a big part of any future.
JERRYD BAYLESS C
Slowed by the bad ankle, he’s done what he can in the role he’s been given. He can get you points in a hurry, doesn’t kill you on defence but still needs to make better decisions with the ball when he’s running the offence. Solid combo guard off the bench may be his future.
LINAS KLIEZA C+
You have to give him a bit of a pass because he’s still not fully up to speed after the knee surgery. Still, there have been enough nights where he’s been a multi-faceted offensive threat and he was coming on strong until the latest injury setback. Could morph in a solid contributor in the second half.
ED DAVIS D
He’s been a bit of a tease, active one night and invisible the next but he’s still young and raw and simply not physically strong enough at this point in his career. Yet they expected more out of him on a more consistent basis and haven’t seen it. He’s got some proving to do in the second half.
Casey would much rather have the four days off spread out. He would also prefer more than one game to put these reinforced principals into action before another four days off, but then no one consulted Casey when the schedule was drawn up.
But even with that working against the Raptors, Casey will take whatever practice time he can get whenever he can get it.
And the bad habits that have been creeping in lately, make this as good a time as any for a little back-to-basics drilling.
“We have lost our attention to detail,” Casey said. “I know that’s a nebulous word but being in position where you are supposed to be when the ball is on the floor. Impacting the ball on pick-and-rolls, we have lost that focus in the search of trying to score points.”
The Charlotte game was the second game in a row the Raptors have allowed an opponent to shoot 50% or better. In the 28 games that preceded those contests. opponents had shot 50% or better just two other times.
Scoring is definitely up for the Raptors of late with the team averaging 95.5 points a night through the past seven games. The problem is opponents average scoring is also up to 97.8 over those seven games.
Casey admits finding the right balance for this group has been difficult.
“It’s a tight rope,” he said. “You emphasize one thing and you lose the other. Without practice that happens. Defensively we have just lost our edge.”
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Last edited by box92; 02-19-2012 at 03:18 PM.