The Raptors have already identified three of their most promising young players (Amir Johnson, Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan) and organized a marketing campaign around them: Young Onez. The initiative has its own website ( www.youngonez.com). That’s a hip and clever campaign that uses the internet effectively, right?
The Raptors say “yes”
Anselmi — “It’s very street. It’s very urban. The reception has been really good.”
The others say “no” emphatically
Cherry: “(The web site) was lacking clarity. You didn’t know if the Young Onez were the three guys or if they were the youth supporting the Raptors. It was like either/or. You’ve got to decide who you are. If the Young Onez are those three, what about the rest of the team if I’m a fan of the team? When one of these guys gets injured or traded, then what?”
And furthermore: “When you separate three (players) you’re comparing them to superstars . . . in the era of the Big Three with the Celtics and the Big Three in Miami, why would you pick three people? You’re just inviting people to go “those three versus LeBron, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade? I’ll take the Heat.”
Strickland: “It serves no real purpose. The Raptors haven’t connected the dots at all. When you see the link you don’t go ‘Oh, that’s the Raptors.’ You go ‘Young Onez? Okay, that must be a rap group.’ ”
Phillips: “There’s no explanation of what it really is about. I don’t know if that was on purpose (but) but if you’re not able to communicate who (the Young Ones) really are, it’s really hard … When you look at (the page), it almost looks like a rap group.”
There was no question that Jose Calderon was targeted by Raptors opponents last season.
Nagging injuries and an inability to push laterally allowed teams to take the ball right at him. A defensive system that often lacked any help at the rim exposed him even further.
Early this season, though, the 29-year-old veteran has been a moving target and the Raptors are reaping the benefits.
“Sometimes defence is just if you want to do it or not,” the 6-foot-3 guard said. “There are no other things. If you’re going to play defence, you have to do it.
“Now I am feeling great so every day I can be a little bit better in that part. I know last year was hard, but I’m feeling more comfortable out there. Now we have to do both things, defence and offence.”
As odd as this may sound to those who’ve watched him through five seasons in the NBA, Calderon’s defence is far ahead of his offence just two games into the regular season. A training camp shooting slump has carried over — he’s made just two of 13 field goal attempts and none from beyond the three-point line in 42 minutes over two games — but he’s also dished out 14 assists with just two turnovers and coach Jay Triano isn’t afraid to leave him on the court because his defence is solid.
“I think he’s struggling with his shot right now, but he still ran the team and I thought he was really good, especially in the third quarter,” Triano said of Calderon’s performance Friday in a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“All night long he had good pressure and people sometimes go after him a little bit, but he chased all night and put a lot of pressure on their guards.”
1. The middle quarters: The Kings have had issues in the second quarter, when they’ve been outscored 100-77 in three games. But the Kings have outscored opponents 89-55 in the third.
2. Samuel Dalembert effect: The veteran center’s presence makes the defense a lot better. With his minutes increasing as he recovers from his leg injury, the defense should improve.
3. Slowing the guards: Opposing guards have had good games against the Kings. It will take a team effort to end that trend with the big guys helping on pick-and-rolls, along with better rotations on the perimeter.
As the Raptors prepare for a six-day, four-game road trip that will zig and zag from Sacramento to Utah to Los Angeles (versus the Lakers) to Portland, they have to confront some seriously unfriendly numbers. Over the past five years, the Raptors have won just seven of their 43 (16.2 per cent) games played in the Mountain or Pacific time zones. And when you take away the games they have played on the road against the often hilariously awful Los Angeles Clippers, the Raptors’ record drops to 3-35 (7.9 per cent) over that span.
The Jazz and Lakers, who the Raptors play Wednesday and Friday respectively, are two of the teams Toronto has failed to register a road win over during that time.
Of course, many of the players involved with that history of losing are no longer with the Raptors. However, that is not to say a better fate awaits the team this time. The Raptors did record their first win in impressive fashion Friday against Cleveland, but they are still figuring themselves out and are very young.
"In the NBA, you can have it one night and not the next. We have to make sure we have it all the time," said Raptors coach Jay Triano, sounding unsure of how his team would fare out West.
To make matters worst, their game Monday night in Sacramento is the Kings’ home opener.