Captain Jack’s predicting 48 wins but at the same time says that 7 things need to go right for us: 1) We stay healthy 2) Unheard of second unit provides consistency 3) O’Neal plays 70+ games 4) Two of Humphries, Bargnani and Kapono have career years 5) High level team-defense and rebounding 6) Consistent effort and quality of play (no bombing 1st quarters at home against the Clippers) and 7) Great coaching.
And what lies at the end of the season according to Jack? A second-round appearance with an outside shot at the Conference Finals. That’s a lot of things that need to happen if we want to have our best ever season. It’s an optimistic article but keep in mind that this is the time to be optimistic and in fairness to Jack he did bring up the major question marks on the team, I just wouldn’t bet on us delivering on the 7 points. I think hoping O’Neal plays 70+ games is expecting too much and I don’t think Sam Mitchell is the coach that anyone can have a career year under nor is he a coach that is able to mask our lack of depth by hiding weaknesses. We should also keep in mind that the SF need has not been addressed. Even if these 7 things do end up happening it’ll probably land us a .500 or so record with us being considered a tough matchup in the East given Bosh and O’Neal’s potential for firepower.
Jermaine O’Neal’s being honest with himself these days and gives himself a D- when asked how he handled the leadership role in Indiana. He also says that early on this pre-season the Raptors spacing in scrimmages was terrible (*shudder*) but is getting better (*whew*). O’Neal sounds like he’s into playing defense and calls out previous Colangelo Raptors teams as being great on offense but shitty on defense. So given that we’ve gone back to the basics of mastering techniques like “defensive slides and close-outs”. I like this, our perimeter, close-out and rotational defense was so bad last year that in order to fix something so flawed you first have to completely tear it down. Hopefully there’s enough time before the season for Jamario Moon to learn how to force a guy baseline.
Speaking of overhauls our man Roko Ukic needs one, apparently he can’t shoot and his mechanics require a complete overhaul. The technician is Gord Herbert who’ll be trying to replace the great, great Dave Hopla (who did wonders for the 2006-07 team) in trying to teach the Raptors how to shoot. Says Roko:
“Basically, I never worked on my shot. In Europe I came too young with the first team when I was 15. I wound up skipping parts of my development. In Europe you work on your development until you come into the professional ranks. Once you are with the first team you are just working on the team stuff, the technical stuff. They don’t work so much on individual stuff so I’m missing some of the fundamentals, especially on my shot.”
I hope we actually help this kid and hot f*ck him up completely.
Kris Humphries and Andrea Bargnani were the two best players on the court in the inter-squad scrimmage in Ottawa. Humphries is getting a lot of attention and is delivering in the playing time that he’s getting. He’s a resource that wasn’t tapped properly last year and this year it’ll be even harder for Mitchell to give him proper, consistent minutes. With Andrea Bargnani likely to play the 4 or 5 when Bosh or O’Neal are resting, Humphries’ role diminishes. There’s 96 minutes to be had at the PF and C positions. If Bosh, O’Neal and Bargnani play say 30 minutes each, that leaves 6 minutes for Humphries. You’d think the Raptors would want to feature the Bosh/O’Neal combo so if Humphries were to get any more minutes they’d be at the expense of Bargnani. Either way he’ll be the second guy off the bench at the big positions unless Sampson or Jawai (still injured) usurps him.
Those sniveling little rotten c*nts at The Bleacher Report have shit out another article and this one’s a doozy. Here’s how they analyze the Raptors in their season preview:
Toronto is very interesting, because it has a very strong backcourt and are good at every position, but don’t have any strong players who can really take over a game. Anthony Parker had a very nice rookie season last year and should do even better, although he likely won’t get as many touches with such a strong presence in the post.
You know, every time I think I’m doing a poor job of running this blog I just browse over to that site and instantly feel better.
There are some clips from the scrimmage here and here. Can’t really tell much except that we’ll need to wait till the first game of the pre-season against Cleveland on Tuesday to know anything worthwhile about the team. Training camp in Ottawa is over and everyone’s giving their thoughts on how it went including Sam Mitchell who says that “the main goal of the pre-season is to come out healthy”. I think he misspoke there, surely there’s got to be more than just that. There’s tons of video on the official site.
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