Five Questions Heading into the Shortened Season

Five. Alive.

Can Jerryd Bayless turn into more than a backup?
The performances that made you wonder whether he’s capable of elevating to the next level were as frequent as the ones that had you scratching your head about whether he’s Marbury-lite (the bad kind). I’m going to assume Calderon’s going to take a back seat or get traded as it doesn’t make sense to have him on the court in a rebuilding year, does it?. This means Bayless will/should see his playing time increase from 22.5 minutes a game. What he does with them is anybody’s guess, the things that he needs to improve on include his jumper, passing out of drives, handling presses, foul rate, his dribbilitis and so on.

Can Amir Johnson develop an offensive game?
Yeah whatever, so he can finish on the pick ‘n roll at an average level. That means he’s just that: average. And I’d argue that overall his offense is found more lacking than it should be at this stage of his career. Even though he wasn’t getting much time in Detroit, he’s been around the league long enough that he should have developed at least a couple go-to moves. All we’ve seen is a hook-shot that looks like he’s trying to scratch his armpit, and a jumper that resembles some fancy yoga move. Give me a up-and-under, or something.

Will Casey get Bargnani to play defense?
It’s been a question of effort and ability, but mostly of effort. The big man hasn’t been able to take the next step in his career because he’s constantly been hounded by his defense and work ethic. The efficiency of the points isn’t nearly strong enough for anyone to overlook the defensive part of the his game, and if Casey – a supposed defensive mastermind – can’t correct or at least significantly improve Bargnani’s defense, then there truly is no hope.

Can DeMar DeRozan have an impact? Again.
Last year was big for him and I’m not even talking about his numbers. His floor-presence got better as the season went along, he was more authoritative, wasn’t scared to take it to the rim, wanted to take the big shot, was confident in his jumper, and even tried to man-up on defense (albeit unsuccessfully). He needs to improve at the same rate and not level-out, or worse, regress. If his jumper and drive game were priority #1 and #1a last season, those get shifted to #2. #1 becomes his defense. We can’t have our “franchise player” getting his ass handed to him by Nick Young. He needs to show the same defensive improvement McGrady showed entering his third season.

Will Ed Davis usurp Amir Johnson?
Scenario: Bargnani gets guaranteed minutes at the PF to start the season. That leaves two options for Casey: Either play Davis and Johnson at the C, or splits their backup minutes. If the latter happens, then Johnson and Davis will be going at each other for playing time, and the younger kid will get a chance to make the spot his own. Basically, Casey could let these two decide how the logjam at the PF should be cleared. Does Davis has what it takes to outclass Johnson? Yes, he’s got a tighter offensive game, excellent reach on the rebounds, but alas, is lacking in pick ‘n roll and pretty much any other kind of defense against Johnson. I know, I know, who gives a f**k is what you’re thinking.

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