WHAT’S THE GOAL?
It’s trite to say, but the main goal this season is simply improvement, to be a better team of better players at the end of the season than they are now.
How to measure that is difficult but it has been widely stated, and universally accepted, that the most important thing to work on is becoming a better defensive team.
So if they come out of the season with better overall intensity on defence, by allowing fewer points and a lower shooting percentage than they historically have, everyone will have come through the season impressed.
For the first time in franchise history, the Raptors will begin a season with no rookies on the roster.
Of course, last June’s first-round draft pick, Jonas Valanciunas, is spending the season playing in his native Lithuania and Colangelo couldn’t finagle a second-round pick, or an additional first-rounder, last summer.
That doesn’t mean a lot in the short term — late first-rounders and second-rounders don’t often play a lot — but it is a precedent-setting situation.
It also means no one will have to carry one of those silly Dora the Explorer backpacks that seem to be de rigueur for rookie hazing around the league these days.
The Raptors were the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA last season, shooting just 31.6 per cent from the field as a group.
It looks to be a black hole again this season because none of the newly acquired players is known as a three-point specialist and Linas Kleiza, who does have some range, won’t likely be available until mid-January.
DeMar DeRozan, who made just five three-pointers in 82 games last season, did hit two in the team’s first pre-season game but to ask him to all of a sudden become a premier long-distance shooting threat is asking too much.
Casey will have to devise offensive sets that allow the team’s capable three-point shooters — Leandro Barbosa, Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless — to get some open space on the floor.
It could be a particularly difficult situation for those late-game plays when threes are absolutely necessary.