Thrilled to be back for a 14th season broadcasting Raptors Basketball. How time flies when you’re having fun.
Look forward to giving you my weekly perspective during the season. And away we go!!
Briefly, here are Five things I’m looking for this season in Raptor-Land.
1. DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT: The Raptors last year left much to be desired in this category and must improve in every technical aspect as well as the day to day attention to detail and obviously the “effort plays” that winning teams make. I’m confident that Dwane Casey and his staff will ‘get after’ these guys and demand accountability on a daily basis. Has to happen.
2. DEVELOPMENT: Lots of Young players on this Roster with room to improve. Critical evaluation year for President/GM Bryan Colangelo and his staff to figure out what the true ability and ceiling is for each of these guys so you can assess what your organizational strengths and weaknesses are and then fill in the gaps in the Summer/Fall of 2012.
3. PUSH THROUGH: 66 games in 120 days. Needless to say, we’ll all be exhausted after the season. I remember my first year with the Raptors in the 1998-99 Lockout-shortened season and the grind was brutal for the 50-game-in-90-day season. This one will be a challenge as well. Young team, fresh legs – at times that will be a blessing. Young team, minimal practice and correction time – at times that can lead to major problems that snowball out of control and it becomes a runaway train.
Above and beyond staying healthy, the most important thing you want to see is the focus, professionalism and mental toughness of the group and see what they’re made of. In my opinion, you’ll find out a lot about your guys under these circumstances.
4. JERRYD BAYLESS: It’s time. Bottom line, this is his third pro Team and at some point you’ve got to prove that you can consistently get it done every night on both sides of the ball. How he develops as a young point guard in his ability to run the team and be a competitive hard-nosed guy, yet not lose his cool/composure will be critical.
You know what you get from Jose Calderon who will do a very nice job running the team. Raptors have to find out if Bayless has ‘it’ to run the club for extended periods.
5. DEMAR DEROZAN: Saw some nice improvements from him last season. I like his attitude and approach. He cares and he wants to be good and to help his team win. Does he have another few gears in his game? Can he be a guy that can help you turn it on and contribute on a winning team? He put up nice numbers on a 22-60 team, but someone has to score the points. Can his overall game progress? I think he has it in him to be a significant piece on a good team in this league. His growth will set a major tone for the upside of this franchise in the years to come.