Optimists are calling for wins this season in the range of 40, some slightly higher, some slightly lower. Many of those projections, to be fair, are largely based on the fact there isn’t a whole lot to compete against in the weak Eastern Conference.
President and general manager Bryan Colangelo, fully aware that the 6-7 DeRozan has yet to realize what some experts see as his full potential, knows he’s paying now for what he hopes happens down the line.
“I would say, first of all, DeMar is a young talent. He is a hard worker. He’s been developing and progressing to a level that we felt [that] he is an asset. We wanted to retain the asset. This is mostly about asset retention. Yes, it does lock in an asset [at a fixed price] moving forward. As far as some of the talk or discussion that we’ve lost some of our flexibility: we really haven’t, in our opinion.”
DeRozan’s first three years have been a mixed bag. There have been all sorts of external factors involved — particularly in the third year, when DeRozan had to adapt to a new coach (Dwane Casey) after a short training camp caused by the lockout. After that, he became the team’s first offensive option when Andrea Bargnani got injured. It was not a comfortable situation for him.
“We’ve got to get the 50/50 balls down the stretch, we’ve got to make the winning plays down the stretch. That’s been the process starting last year, we continue this year,” Casey said after practice on Thursday.
The European experience was Valanciunas’ proving ground and he took full advantage of playing against other professional basketball players including some former NBA players. Last season included a couple of games against top ranked CKSA Moscow, which featured former NBA center Nenad Krstic at center and current NBA player Andrei Kirilenko at power forward.
There is a general consensus outside of Toronto that the Raptors are likely the team that will finish at the bottom of the Atlantic Division. In strange contrast, a lot of people feel the Raptors are much improved. This is a little confusing, but makes sense when you consider the only team worse than them last season was the New Jersey now Brooklyn Nets.
As the negativity and doubt begins to swirl around Toronto after a disappointing loss to the Indiana Pacers—a loss that saw them not make a field goal in the last five minutes of the game—I begin to look over their roster with a fine-tooth comb and see what can be done to improve this bunch.
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