They still appear defensively challenged, but there’s more talent, a little more toughness and perhaps even some lotto luck in the offing if DeMar DeRozan can give them anything. DeRozan will be given every chance to start, even if that means he’ll be out for just six minutes to open each half – and after years of coaches who wouldn’t play kids (Lenny Wilkens) or didn’t have any high-wire, blue-chippers to speak of (Triano’s predecessor Sam Mitchell), that is different, too.
"We might start him off with more minutes, we might start him in games (and) let him play with a good bunch of players – if we don’t start him, maybe we’ll have a hard time getting him in," said Triano. "You can’t let a No.9 pick rot on the bench and not develop him."
A major talking point on the weekend will be defence. Hedo Turkoglu promises to make the Raptors a more dangerous offensive team. But the starting unit — Turkoglu, Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon and DeRozan — does not figure to resemble the Bad Boys-era Pistons.
"I think it’s obvious to people watching … that we have to do it as a team. We have to have concepts that people are going to buy into," Triano said.
"We’re not great one-on-one defenders. We have to be very sound with the principles that we’re going to run at the defensive end of the floor, know where we’re going to push guys and how we’re going to play. That’s part of what we’re trying to figure out right now."
Triano was able to begin striking a chord late in the season as the Raps went 9-4 over the last 13 games. That’s the kind of start they are expected to have this season. The coach has to essentially put together a whole new team, with the lots of additions and subtractions from last year – but clear upgrades in talent from a year ago.
He’s got all of training camp to do that, and it is essential Toronto gets off to a good start. Of the three, Triano may have the toughest job of all, as expectations for this team are so high. This is a sure-fire lock of a playoff team, with visions of contending and challenging the Big 3 in the Eastern Conference. What makes Triano’s task so difficult is anything less for the Raptors would be considered failure – by everyone involved.
The Raptors Head Coach and honourary drawmaster for this weekend’s Woodbine Mile caught up with The FAN 590’s Mark Sheldon to talk about his busy off-season, the moves made by Bryan Colangelo and his excitement heading into training camp.
Installment #4 has me breaking down the match up with the Sacramento Kings and the guest preview for the Kings was provided by Patrick from Basketball Fiend.