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Claudius 12-23-2011 09:32 PM

Yahoo Raptors Preview
We tweeted about this earlier. Pretty fair read.


This is still a rebuilding team, make no mistake, but it's finally one that has ideas more respectful toward its station. Nowhere was this more evident than in the drafting of ace big man Jonas Valanciunas in last June's draft, a sound and patient move that could stick the Raptors with the prize of what was otherwise a crummy 2011 lot. Valanciunas won't be over this season, but he'll be a Raptor soon enough, pairing with second generation NBA'er Ed Davis and DeMar DeRozan to give Casey a core to work around.
Until then, this will be a poor basketball team working under a coach long on patience and smarts. Casey knows that the Raptors are attempting to change a culture -- at least we hope they're attempting something along those lines -- and that the Valanciunas pick and the 2012 draft selection are going to be the most important things to come out of his initial tenure, and not some slate of games crammed together in the winter of 2012.

Eventual cap space and flexibility is a rough thing to attempt to get behind, much less act cheerful about, but Toronto can at least see the corner to turn around. If GM Bryan Colangelo swallowed his pride and admitted defeat on Andrea Bargnani next summer, shooting the scoring forward a waive under the amnesty clause, Toronto could find itself $30 million under the cap once the rookie contracts are sorted out.

We're well beyond the risk of sounding fawning regarding Casey, and it's possible that his strange second place finishes to Vinny Del Negro in both the Chicago and Los Angeles Clippers coaching searches may have trumped up his potential higher than it deserves, but his hiring is akin to a team trading for a top pick from a terrible team that won't show up until 2012 or 2013. Casey's a prospect to be stashed away, not unlike Valanciunas or impending cap space, as the Raptors soberly look toward the future.

Bayless has looked comfortable running an offense for stretches, and even shown glimpses of brilliance, playing behind the likes of Steve Blake, Andre Miller, Chris Paul and Calderon. But he's averaged one turnover for every 1.86 assists he's dished out in his career, which is a little too thin a ratio for most coaches, who tend to prefer steady-if-unremarkable play from their backup point. He's a bit small for a two at 6-foot-3, he's not a great finisher at the rim for someone whose game relies primarily on quickness and penetration, and he hasn't shown a strong enough 3-point stroke (his best mark came last year with the Raps, and even that was just under 35 percent) to be considered a reliable floor-spacer.

Plus, every team Bayless has played for -- the '08-'09 and '09-'10 Portland Trail Blazers, last year's New Orleans Hornets and last year's Raptors -- has performed better with him off the court than with him on it. Sure, a lot of that has likely has to do with the performances of the guys he's backed up and the caliber of his second-unit teammates, but still, it doesn't quite scream, "You have to play this guy."

That said, Casey should play this guy. Calderon's on the wrong side of 30, Bayless is on the right side of 24 and this season's all about identifying future contributors. He needs to find out if the eight-game tear Bayless went on to close last season -- averaging 22.5 points, 5.6 assists (with 2.8 turnovers), three rebounds and a little over a steal per game -- was an indication of a talented player turning a corner when given an opportunity, or merely a function of getting increased minutes against teams looking forward to the playoffs (like the Bulls, Magic, Knicks, 76ers and Heat) and playing out the string (like the Cavaliers, Nets and Bucks). If it's the former, then Casey may have found an important piece in the Raptors' rebuilding process. If not, the search for the point guard of the future will have to continue

In Bargnani's case, that means that the Raptors need to stop focusing on what he can't do and build the team in a way that compensates for his problems. Jonas Valanciunas, who figures to help most with rebounding and defense when he comes over to the NBA next season, could end up as a strong complement to Bargs. Perhaps that's the first step beyond fixating on the negative and opening up more possibilities for the future.
Toronto Raptors 2011-12 Season Preview - Ball Don't Lie - NBABlog - Yahoo! Sports

Carlito 12-24-2011 10:40 AM

Not a bad assessment of raps ..

There's lots of talk about Val being a good defensive player, but I've seen nothing to back this up .. Does anyone have any data to support or denign this claim?

Ball Don't Lie 12-24-2011 08:32 PM

Has Casey announced our starting 5 yet? If so, what is it?

Claudius 12-24-2011 10:24 PM


Originally Posted by thriller92 (Post 590505)
Has Casey announced our starting 5 yet? If so, what is it?

No he hasn't yet but it's safe to assume it's going to be:


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