Seriously. Every offseason under Colangelo’s watch has been like being spun around, just hoping to hold on without being sick or squishing children sitting next to you. Not all the blame rests on his shoulders, but he sure has his hands on the lever that makes the spinning go faster.
I still don’t get the allure of summer league. There are some great articles out there that sing its praises, but personally, I just don’t see it. This summers Raptors squad is a great case in point. People are jonesing over their perfect record and how great DeMar and Sonny looked. Well, as starters at any given time in the NBA last season, I’d sure as hell hope they would look like allstars going up against guys that were bussed in from the courts at CityPlace. DeMar got named as one of the best in SL? Really? Well knock me down with a feather. He wasn’t named to a real NBA rookie AllStar team, so I’m over the moon he was good enough to be on a summer league one.
Ed Davis, though….that man is the real deal. I just hope he doesn’t get roped into the whole YouTube/TMZ/the 2010 version of Electric Circus environment that seems to be festering in our locker room. I’m all for guys having fun, as long as they hit centre court looking to win and play as a team. Davis comes from a great program, he performed well in Vegas, he seems to be a steal at our pick, and given time in the weight room as well as in the video room, he could be just the key to save Colangelo’s job (assuming he wants to be saved).
I’m excited as all get out about Sonny Weems. I’m not basing it on anything in particular except for the same gut feeling that has made my predictions about the Raptors the last few seasons be bang on. As much as people are all over DeRozan, I’m starting to feel that passion about Weems. He’s still raw, but that hunger that I see actually excites me. If he follows through on being a gym rat and keeping his head in the game, he could be a major surprise this season.
Colangelo has stated he is looking at the Raptors running some 3 guard play this season, which seems to be the case given the (possible) Barnes signing. As structured, we now have a pretty sizable cluster of guys looking for minutes and, in some respects, development. Does this style work in the league now? Is Triano capable of making it run? Do you look for speed or an aerial assault? Our once killer perimeter shooting has taken a step back and you’d hate to see DeMar start to rely on that shot a la Vince Carter. Without someone demanding a cover down low anymore, our guards (and Andrea) will need to be quick on their feet or their release to keep defenders honest. I personally love that style of play and would welcome it back in Toronto, but want to see one solid veteran added to the roster for stability and defensive attention. Someone that makes the other team say “sh!t, we have to cover him”. Call it a Hedo with talent.
I, along with, well, every other writer on this site, have been a basher of MLSE over the years. However, their assistance in making Canada Basketball an organization that demands respect is to be commended. Canada Basketball was pretty close to becoming defunct a few years ago, but our heroes at MLSE opened up their bags of money and provided a bail-out. This, coupled with in-community work such as refurbishing courts and building new ones goes a long way in making youth interested in the sport and making them want to represent this country on the world stage. Seeing a team ownership that often gets accused of being hockey-centric step up the way they have both from a financial perspective and an advisory one is fantastic.
Have you spoken to your non-diehard friends about the state of the Raptors? I have and in my circle it’s pretty grim. These are people who watch games every so often, go to a few a year, etc. so the type of people that MLSE targets right after their season seat/mini-pack base. I get comments like “they are a glorified d-league team now”, “the Leafs will be more exciting than the Raptors” and “too much money for little return”. Colangelo isn’t done tinkering, but judging by the tumbling attendance last year, you have to be fearful of what the ACC will look like on most nights this year. We diehards are all amp’d about what could be an exciting brand of basketball, but that doesn’t translate to viewers or ticket sales.
Finally, I’m a huge supporter of guys taking their adopted city under their wing. For all the flack Carter, Davis and Bosh have taken, they did a lot for this city, its youth and its underprivileged. Yes, some of it was NBA/team driven, but a lot of it wasn’t. Their own foundations did a lot of leg work and found opportunities to do good. Should Jose Calderon be added to the list that leaves us, he should be mentioned in the same breath as the above. He’s done a lot of under-the-radar stuff (full disclosure: this includes a charity that I am a supporter of) and while his defense on the court is questionable, his ability to bring smiles to faces that are used to frowning is an incredible feat that will be missed.