Dwane Casey isn’t Jay Triano. It’s safe to say this much without any real argument. There is structure in the defense, the effort is markedly better and as a result team rarely gets blown out like it used to. In fact, against better teams like Memphis, the Raps are able to trade blows and even take the lead for stretches of the game.

But in a sport where majority of games are actually decided in the final quarter, the last 5 – 6 minutes in fact, there seems to be an ironic level of predictability in determining who will come out on top. Generally, as we have seen all season with Toronto, it will be the more talented team. Not necessarily the deeper team with decent talent from player 1 to 12, but the team with the more high-end talent. Usually that talent is an offensive star, and they have the ball in their hands at the end of games.

We don’t have that guy, and he won’t unless we trade or draft for him. We know what Jose is. Someone who is elite when he balances his passing tendencies with looking for his own shot. But even then, he’s not a guy you can rely on to make that play when everything is on the line.

And it’s not DeMar DeRozan. It’s a little easy to go after a guy who just scored 4 points off 8 shots, 2 rebounds, 0 assists in 34 minutes. This is not about that. It’s about realizing that he may be a good, serviceable scorer off an NBA bench for a good team perhaps but not much more than that. You need at least one excellent guard player to compete for a championship. What defines these kind of players isn’t necessarily the games they have, but the kind of games they don’t have. Go look up the third years of any superstar-calibre player in his third year. You will be hard pressed to find more than 2, 3 games like the one DeMar had last night for the entire year.

What this indicates is that DeMar does not possess that elite ability to dictate offense. Kind of like “This is what I’m about to do and I’m so good you’re not going to be able to do much about it.” He’s more of an opportunistic scorer. On a night like this, the opportunities were less and DeMar couldn’t dictate his own offense. You hear rumblings about his effort level, and that’s unfair. He cares and he works hard from all accounts. His dedication has probably gotten him further than most with his level of talent, not the other way around.

So all together now, a good piece to have, but if him being the starting shooting guard of this team is part of the blueprint of future successes, good luck to you Mr. Colangelo.

Coming back to last night’s game, it was obvious that Jerry Bayless and Leandro Barbosa were more effective at playing the 2 than DD but Coach Casey decided to stick with his starters for the final few minutes. To clarify, don’t ever call Bayless anything other than a shooting guard because he’s not. When it was so obvious that the team was playing better with these guys, why didn’t Casey pull DeMar? Most likely this was a “lose today for wins later on” philosophy. Perhaps it’s a case of Colangelo feeling vindicated with Il Mago’s positive step in his career, and his insistence that DeMar will have eventually have a similar epiphany. The hope is that he’s worth this developmental approach, because it’s costing the team games like it did last night.

A sidenote: Bargnani did what he did for 13 games. 13 games. As fans, we all hope it continues once he’s back and healthy.

So we wait and see in this year of low expectations and minimal pressure, how much of our core we already have. Jonas Valunciunas seems to be one. Perhaps he would have answered the call when Memphis rode Marc Gasol to get back into this game. But the reality is, he still won’t be the offensive answer in the final tense moments, not anytime soon anyway. Other than a 7-point mini-explosion where Linas Kleiza looked like a Lithuanian Jordan, there was no go-to guy.

That’s a troubling void that’s not easy to fill, which is where the draft will hopefully come in handy. Of course, things could be worse, they could be that other team that plays in the ACC. DeMar might want to tweet some thanks to Brian Burke for stealing the spotlight away for just this one night.

  • CantDL

    I think the raptors could work with a lottery pick at SF and a lights out shooting 2 that could rotate with demar and play in the 4th quarters. A young Anthony Parker-type? He was in no way elite but had a knack for hitting tough late game shots

    • Copywryter

      I’d want to draft another “Mr. Fourth Quarter” Alvin Williams, only with better knees.  

  • JHP

    Good article and goes back to the old arguement of drafting for need, or the best player available.  Might as well fill a need as get another physically gifted player that just turns into another 3/4 year project.  This sounds silly but I would pay off Solo and rotate in some 10 players to see what they can do.  The young man gets his money and the team can go fishing for an upgrade.  Wth AB,JV,Davis …  another tall bench warmer does not make sense.  Of course BC has taken the year off and my guess is nothing will happen before the draft.  By the way has anyone even seen the GM this year :-)

  • cesco

    In the last 5 minutes of a close game next year , Andrea and Jonas , in addition to Jose , DD (or Leandro) and a SF ( JJ , Kleiza , pick or FA ) will most likely be on the floor . A little better cast than the one with Grey and one of the Johnsons in it . A much better chance of carrying out a win I would say . Defense will be better with Jonas and offense will be better with Andrea .

  • c_bcm

    i agree with cesco. lets not get out of hand talking about how this team doesn’t have an elite scorer to take the shots in the 4th quarter. Bargs should end up being that guy. It would be nice to draft another one to help take the pressure off of Bargs and have the next in line to take the franchise further. But to suggest Demar is the only hope for theis franchise at the moment is a bit ridiculous.

    I’d love to get Bargs back for a good stretch just to see what we actually have with this group in all of its glory.

    • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

      Bargnani has NEVER made a game winning shot during his whole career- str8 up & down….

      Trade AB high!!!!

      • cesco

        Could you tell us who took ALL the winning shots for the Raps in the last five years or provide us with a link or else shut up .

        • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

          Like I said Bargnani has NEVER made a game winning shot I have watched all the Raptors games since he has been a Raptors player- point blank………unlike Amir……

          AB in London- pump fake, pump, pump, pump, pump, pump…shot…..brick…repeat….

          Have a great day, buddy…

          • Raps4Ever

             You’re on a roll with this today, so I may as well roll with same response as other thread.

            Not the first time you’ve spewed this “never hit a game winning shot”
            crap.First, a TEAM has to be in games at the end for any player to hit
            one, but you imply he can’t hit end of game clutch shots. There may be
            more, but here’s a few:
            – Mar 11, 2007- vs Sonics, down 2, hits a 3, and
            1, with 9 seconds left
            – Jan 12, 2009- vs Celtics, hits game tieing 3
            with 1 second left
            – Dec 30, 2009- vs Charlotte, technically the
            “clinching shot”, but effectively the game winning  3 shot with 10
            seconds left
            – Dec 8, 2010- vs NY, with 41 pts in game, hits game tieing 3
            with 28 seconds left. Felton hits one for win with 2 seconds left, but
            Bargs still hit clutch shot.

            You’re one sick puppy. Was your mommy Italian and kicked you around a lot, a few times in the head, while you were still in diapers?

            • cesco

               Thanks Raps4Ever for clarifying that matter and there is no way his mother was/is Italian , because they love their child and he obviously wasn’t loved enough .

              • Raps4Ever

                The blind hate towards AB is only reason I used the Italian part.

            • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

              Nice try……..

              • Cam

                You got owned buddy, and you can’t back it up and cop out with “nice try.” Owned.

  • jlongs

    I still don’t see a decent “core” that would enable us to compete in the playoffs in the coming years. All we have are decent bench players masquerading as starters. Maybe Jonas + draft pick would get us that talent. But maybe not. We don’t know yet. What I do know is that none of our players are “core material” save for maybe Bargnani (the 13-game version). That is if “core material” to you means competing in the playoffs and going after a title, and not “loyalty to the team/wants to be here.”

    And I don’t like the notion of the fans trying to hold on to our players hoping they turn out to be something they have little chance of becoming. Everyone should be tradeable. Everyone. if it means this team would be better off in the coming years. And this starts with realizing that Demar Derozan is not a starter.

    I’ve seen many here and in the forums come up with fantasy line-ups and one thing I noticed is they all have Demar as the starting 2 guard. Why? What has he shown that would make him deserve the title of “starting SG of the future?” All I seen him do is have a few decent scoring games here and there. But so do a ton of other bench players in the NBA. What makes him starter material? What makes him more than just a decent bench player? ‘Cause I don’t see it.

  • hateslosing

    This irritates me. We have a go to guy star offensive player: he’s just injured. Even before this season Andrea was still the best offensive player on this team by a mile. Saying things like 
    “We don’t have that guy, and he won’t unless we trade or draft for him.”
    and then not justifying why Andrea isn’t that guy is no argument at all. And for those who say a bog can’t be that guy, go Talk to Dirk about it, he’ll show you some nifty game winners. 
    You mention it has only been 13 games, but Andrea showed a lot of his scoring ability last year too. The upgrade this year has mostly been in his aggressiveness and his defense. 

    • TheTyrant

      And securing the 4 spot in the rotation.

  • drizz

    Raptor fans would never have the balls to chant “fire BC” (I don’t blame Casey)

  • Brian B

    If Raps need a”go to scorer”, then the whole “gotta get ADavis” crew needs to rethink, since his offense is so far much like EDavis… run outs or putbacks. No post moves, no consistent jumper. 

    • Nilanka15

      Drafting Davis doesn’t mean we need to keep him. He’d be a very valuable trade chip if Colangelo determines we’re already set in the front court.

      • mountio

        Agreed. Also doesn’t mean you couldn’t keep him and trade, say AB or JV (or a combo of them and others), for a top scoring guard. Bottom line, Davis is a stud .. if you have a chance to take him, you do it. The rest will work itself out

        • Brian B

           stud? As I type this, he just was part of a 24 second violation, followed by him achieving a block, followed by him putting back a team mate’s mess – he certainly has athleticism, but has he got skill? Also, length but no weight- playing with men every day will be a learning experience for him.

      • Brian B

         selling from a surplus seldom works well in the NBA- other GMs, some (many) more astute than BC, will just wait him out and try to get value at a discount. In addition, there is a whole optics issue – when is the last time a #1 overall was dealt while a rookie? Just not done.

        And, my central point, on this thread and others is that ADavis just is not the second coming- his upside might be Garnett, but he may be another Bosh or Camby, and will need to develop to be either of those. What if he’s another Tyrus Thomas?

        • Nilanka15

          You could make the same “what if” argument with every rookie in every draft.  There is always an element of risk.

  • cdub

    The Raptors have many pieces already.  They should keep calderon imo.  Hes already a top pg why would you not?  What they really need is something they haven’t had since VC started sulking….a good SG.  DeRozan is clearly not that guy.  I’d actually put the SG position as the #1 priority.  Everyone is talking about the 3 and the 1 but it should be the 2. 

  • Bendit

    That Allen guy on the Grizz is one heckuva defensive player. I can see JJ becoming him… mr. sandpaper. I feel sorry that DD is getting exposed…on his own team. He needs to stop wasting his time during the off season in gyms with his buds throwing down dunks and wowing the locals. Rather join up with a notable coach offering real teaching in his deficiencies.

  • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

    “Dwane Casey isn’t Jay Triano. It’s safe to say this much without any real argument.”

    I disagree- Casey is exactly like Jay except it all defense while Jay was all offense but both made boneheaded coaching moves with their rotations & in game situational decisions.

    The Raptors have went from one of the worst defensive teams under Triano to one of the worst offensive teams under Casey- recognize game.

    As well as Bargnani has seemingly played (he has had some lethargicness amongst his good play) for 13 games he still averaged only 6 rebounds per game over that span and was allowing lay up lines at the goal while being slow on rotations but he was trying harder- I guess.

    As well Val is not here so stop with his projections onto the game- really now, BC made the selection knowing that he wouldn’t be here this season and when Val does arrive don’t expect a game changer as he won’t be any better than Amir nor Ed anytime soon.

    Also, Bosa aka Light Speed- sometimes JBayless, should be in the game at the end in every close game as he can create his own shot off of the bounce and/or draw a foul.

    Raptors need to draft Tony ‘Black Steel’ Wroten Jr (the Pac12 POY) with their 2012 Lottery draft pick- point blank.

  • Draftstar

    Excellent choice of topics! What you are talking about is an assassin, someone with the  killer instinct. Even if Jordan missed all 20 of his shots, don’t give him the last shot of the game – he will kill you with it. They are a different animal completely and it is a different skill. They go through a metamorphosis in the last few minutes of the game: Their intensity, focus, determination and body language all change and it’s like they will the ball to go in. You can be in a state where the rim seems to get bigger and time seems to slow dow~~~n! Bosch didn’t have it when he was here but Wade does. Most guys just have it or they don’t, but a few develop it. To me that is the most glaring difference between Andrea and Dirk and what makes Andrea just a volume scorer. Raptors don’t have time to try and see which players might be able to develop it. They will need a couple of these guys next year, if they want to win close games. Sometimes it will be more about an executioner – than execution!! The good news is that they are not always the best player on their team.

  • 511

    ‘Most likely this was a “lose today for wins later on” philosophy.’ Politically correct enough to have made me laugh. Even if the meaning I took wasn’t exactly what you might’ve been meaning. 

    • Draftstar

      Want 67 losses but realize we need some wins for the players, fans, management, the organization…. .

      • fk

        no we don’t. We don’t need any unexpected wins before draft night.

  • Employee

    I kinda wonder about Casey putting in Aaron at the end of games.  This happened before with Magloire.  I don’t get why you would put in guys that shoot less than 50% from the line in a tie game with a minute left. 

    • Nilanka15

      Because securing defensive rebounds is a higher priority.

  • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuC_mD9jm58&feature=player_embedded
    Sonny Weems 2012 European Dunk Contest

    I miss Sonny as a Raptors player……..hope he comes back to the TDot if not then to the NBA.

    • mountio

      thanks. some pretty sweet dunks .. good on ya sonny.

  • Ppellico

    replying to Cesco above…

    I can’t seem to reply directly to a post…seems something is wrong with my puter…

    here goes…

    i hope you are right
    about jonas next year.

    I am not as sure. I know
    from so many years of flame outs in the NBA all I can hope for is he gets near
    NBA level by the end of his first year.

    More than likely he can’t
    until the end of his 3 or 4th year.

    He needs strength.

    He needs to learn the
    brutal NBA inside game.

    He needs to be coached by
    teammates on how to travel and sleep on a solid schedule in order to compete
    night after night after night.

    Very few have this
    initially.

    My demand is a hot
    hooting guard you can count on to frighten the opposition enough that you
    middle is open.

    A shooter sooooo solid
    and hot he WILL make those end of game shots that win.

    THAT is my #1 wish for the team

    • cesco

      I believe it was Stefansky who said JV is ready to be a starter . In my opinion he is more NBA ready than Andrea was 6 years ago and Andrea had CB4 playing his position . JV has no one to beat as a starting center . At this moment , the issue of who can take the last shot is not important , going past the first round is ( a 2-3 years window ) .

  • Arsenalist

    Nice post.  

    How many of those elite go-to clutch players are in the league? Five? six?  A franchise gets one of those every 15 years, if that.  The Raptors had one in Carter, for a bit at least, so maybe we’re due now.  One thing’s for sure, it’s no one on the current roster, and I doubt Valanciunas will be that (based on limited viewing).

    It’s a tough spot to be in, because to really contend, you need that player – Durant, Kobe, LeBron, Paul, D. Williams…not easy man, easy to ask for one, but not easy to get one.

    As with anything else in life, you have to get lucky in the draft.  That is all.

    • mountio

      Agree on “elite-clutch go to guys” .. but there are also middle of the road guys with a knack for scoring that can get their shot off at any time. I think Jamal Crawford, Lou Williams, even JR Smith or Monte Ellis. Others from the top list you didn’t mention include Melo, T Parker, Dirk, Amare (at least last year), Wade, Z Bo, Gay, Westbrook, Aldridge, Nash(?), PP, Rose .. Im sure Im missing a few more as thats off the top of my head. 
      When you expand the list this way .. there are probably 20 or 30 guys in the league easy (thats still not tonnes .. but its not quite a needle in a haystack). The closest we have is AB (maybe Bosa) .. and he might get there as he has showed signs in the past .. but the jury is still out. If we could get a guy like this (obviously would be best if we could get D Wade 2.0 .. but agree, thats a long shot) .. I think our team takes a big leap .. 

      • mountio

        Melo and PP certainly showed they belong in this list today. Great game ..

    • FLUXLAND

      Luck is not all – very far from it.

      It would also help if the person drafting had the right eye for the qualities you describe.  Kobe got drafted when no one would take the chance… and look at what happened.

      And more often then not, it’s a former player that recognizes the killer quality.  The person in charge here relies on the Caliper test and stays away from “headcases” because he doesn’t have the skills to deal with them and get them to produce.

      “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity” and the Raptors under BC will never be prepared, regardless of how many opportunities he gets in the draft. 

  • Trrruth

    I’ve stopped reading the comments ages ago, but I might have to stop reading the articles as well after that garbage! Why don’t we wait to see how much progress derozan makes by the end of april before you completely write him off!!!

  • Ppellico

    I know everybody sees the star in Jonas…I still don’t.
    It is just to rare a thing to happen. I think its easier to find a sharp shooter than it is  a fleet footed/shooting/defensive center.
    I understand the hope…I just know the facts…big men who are stars are rare. Big men who are your first option are gold.

    I was watching the DelRay Beach tennis match last night with 2…that’s right TWO nearly seven foot tall tennis players,  John Isner 6.9 lost to 6.8 ft Kevin Anderson.
    Watching it I thought, GOD…why can’t we find this speed and talent in basketball.
    Then I remembered they were thin. And as such very likely to be pushed around under the basket like they were not even there.

    No…here is hoping the euro kid can do it, but in reality…the ditch aside the road of the NBA is chuck full of super stars that didn’t come close to their draft predictions.

    As for a hot shooting guard, I would take even less talented than Kobe or the likes. For every ONE Reggie Miller, aren’t there 5 John Paxton?

    I just want somebody who they THINK will make it…just so we open up the court for others.
    Trust me…Jonas will need this to even think of surviving next year.

    • 511

      For what it’s worth … I think — and hope — that we’ll all be pleasantly surprised by what JV brings to the Raptors. It might take another year or three for him to add the bulk that he might need to dominate the way he aims to, but he’s already playing in a high-calibre professional league over there and at nineteen, dominating the way he mostly does, there’s probably less chance of him not living up to his clippings than others that you might be comparing him to. And … you’re likely right about it being easier to find a sharp shooter than a fleet footed/shooting/defensive center … and from all that I’ve gathered – and the bit that I’ve seen – that’s almost exactly why so many are so high on what Valanciunas already has. He’s athletic and fast with a very nice touch with the ball, even from further out … as well as being physical and savvy. There’s no reason for pessimism re JV that I can see. If we get lucky in the next draft, who knows what the next few years will bring. Chances are, it’ll be a lot more fun than it’s been. 

  • Ppellico

    511…

    I am not pessimistic. If that is how I came across, I appoligize.
    I am really hopeful. Point of fact ONLY as hopeful as I can be as I follow Gray from team to team.
    Kind of a really fan since he was early college years.
    But he would be a fantastic back up for Jonas and, in fact, somebody I think could mentor the kid through the initial year as an NBA rookie.
    Helping him understand the entire culture and needed travel and focus skills would be a good help coming from Gray.

    If you have Jonas as your starter with Gray for 15 or 20 minutes…you have a solid front.

    But NONE of these can be all they can be without an outside threat.
    Somebody is needed to spread the defense.
    Somebody is needed to make the shot when all others are in a slump and the team is feeling the game slipping away.
    These clutch shooters are the second key to my winningbasketball game.
    You start inside and finish with that killer outside.

    Hopefully Gray stays and the two become a solid inside for the Raps.

    • cesco

      You forget that Kleiza will be Jonas main mentor , that is for sure . Regarding the clutch shooter , I believe fans of 20-25 teams wish their team had one , not easy to find it seems , unlikely BC will find one but always possible .

  • fk

    Anyone expecting Jonas to be a star is a joke. He’ll be a solid rotation player, not much more than that.

    The real homerun in the draft was Kyrie Irving.

    • cesco

      How can you say it is a joke when he hasn’t played an NBA game yet and Irving was picked first so there was no chance for BC to pick him . You are the joke .

      • fk

        Can he be a go to scorer? Doesn’t look like it at all.

        • Nilanka15

          You don’t need to be a go to scorer to be a star in the NBA.