Note: what follows in this column is written for the purpose of satire and satire only. Enjoy!
On this instalment of Raptors Open Gym: we go behind the scenes to show you the inner workings of a Toronto Raptors practice, hosted by longtime Toronto Raptors play-by-play man Matt Devlin. Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes? Well, now you’ll get your chance to see (read) about it first hand.
Opening scene: The Toronto Raptors enter their practice gym. Coach Dwayne Casey immediately separates the team into two sides.
Casey: Alright guys, you know the drill. Wings on one side, bigs on the other. You know, the two lineups we’re going to test out this week.
Devlin: Coach Casey again showing his brilliance when it comes to lineup creation. By putting out two lineups, one filled with guards, and one filled with forwards, he’ll keep the other teams in the league on their toes. It’s incredible moves like this that have helped turn the team around these last few games, where they’re 2 and 2. Spread over a whole season, that’s a .500 team right there. Of course, Landry Fields hasn’t come to practice today, because if you had a wife that looked like that, you wouldn’t come to practice either.
At this point, Raptors Director of Analytics Alex Rucker runs into the gym, waving a sheaf of papers.
Rucker: Dwayne, listen! We’ve run the numbers and these lineups just don’t work! You have to listen to…
Rucker is dragged out of the gym kicking and screaming.
Casey: Anyone else want to bring up these so called “stats” in my gym?
The entire team and coaching staff fall silent.
Casey: That’s what I thought. Now, let’s pound the rock.
As the team splits up, Casey allocates his assistant coaches to go work with the Raptor forwards, while he takes the wings.
Casey: OK everyone, let’s start with a simple lay-up line. Can someone go get the balls, please? Anybody but…
Alan Anderson sprints for the cage filled with basketballs.
Anderson reaches the cage. He opens it, and begins shooting the balls indiscriminately at both hoops, until it is completely empty.
Devlin: It’s that offensive mentality that has made Alan Anderson one of the league’s most feared guards. Another genius signing by Bryan Colangelo, who I’ve heard is also close to solving third-world hunger, and whose farts smell like fresh roses.
Casey: Ugh, not again. Alright, go get the balls, guys, and let’s do some lay-up lines. Remember, LAY-UPS.
The Raptor wings begin the lay-up line. All seems well, except for DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay, who are inexplicably shooting 22 footers every time it’s their turn.
Casey: Rudy, DeMar, come over here for a second.
DeMar: What’s up, coach?
Casey: Guys, I asked for lay-ups. Not mid-range jumpers. What’s going on?
Gay: Coach, I thought those were lay-ups?
Casey: How many times do I have to tell you guys…
Kyle Lowry: Don’t worry, Rudy, he’s just jealous.
Devlin: Now, let’s take a look at the Raptor bigs, who have split into groups to work on different facets of their games. Over here, you can see Amir Johnson teaching Quincy Acy how to shoot a jump shot.
Amir: Now, Quincy, what you have to remember is to use your knees. It’s all in the knees. But UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you actually jump for your shot. Think one of those wacky-waving-inflatable-arm-flailing-tube-men.
Acy: Like this?
Quincy takes a smooth jump-shooting stroke that easily swishes through the net.
Amir: Not bad, but more spastic. Also, what did I tell you about shooting from anywhere but 3 feet in front of the 3-point-line?
Acy: …That’s not the Raptor way.
Amir: That’s right, Quincy. You’re on the right track.
At this point, Raptors General Manager Bryan Colangelo enters the gym, flanked by Andrea Bargnani, who is carrying a clipboard. Upon seeing Colangelo up-close-and-in-person, Matt Devlin immediately faints.
Devlin (upon coming to): Wow, viewers. The man himself is here. We are all truly blessed. And he’s come in with his right-hand-man, Andrea Bargnani, who has been acting as an assistant coach since he went down for the season with an injury. Truly, that contract extension is looking like a bargain. What a manager. What a man.
Bargnani: Terrence, Sebastian, over here.
Terrence Ross and Sebastian Telfair leave the guards and head to Andrea, who leads them to an open hoop. He takes a seat beside an idle shot clock.
Bargnani: Now, we practice 3-pointer with shot clock. You run play, and shoot when clock gets too low.
Telfair dribbles the ball up as the shot clock begins to run. He passes it off to Ross, who immediately shoots a 3-pointer. Bargnani stops the shot clock and walks toward the pair, shaking his head in disappointment.
Bargnani: Look at time left! Eighteen seconds left on shot clock. What did I teach you?
Ross: “If the clock’s under 21, then that’s no fun.”
Bargnani: Excellent. Try again.
Telfair dribbles the ball over half-court and immediately launches a 3-point shot, which clangs off the front rim. Bargnani stops the clock, sees it reading “22,” and nods approvingly.
Bargnani: Good, good! And what do we say once shot goes up?
Telfair: After it’s gone, It’s Amir’s problem.
Devlin: And now, let’s look in on the development of prized Raptors rookie Jonas Valanciunas, who most observers agree is the best asset the Raptors have, outside of DeMar DeRozan, who, as we all know, is the best mid-range shooting guard in the league. Of course, Jonas has moved to the opposite end of the court from Bargnani due to the restraining order filed by Colangelo requiring him to be 500 feet away from Andrea at all times. Yet another genius move.
Jonas, working with Raptor assistants, shows an array of impressive post-moves. He’s then approached by reserve center Aaron Gray.
Gray: Jonas, you’re looking great, but I have a few ideas for some moves that could really help your game. I mean, I’ve been a veteran in this league for a long time, and you could learn a lot from me.
Both Jonas and Gray burst out laughing.
Gray: Kidding, buddy, kidding. If you need me, I’ll be playing cards with John and Mickael.
Devlin: And there you have it, folks. We hope you’ve enjoyed this in-depth look into a practice session of the Toronto Raptors, who, as we all know, would be in the playoffs if the season started April 1st and ended on April 5th. Any way you slice it, that’s a playoff team, folks. And now, for some bonus coverage, here’s a live look-in into the Raptors’ 2013 draft war room.
The camera shifts to a view of an empty boardroom. A janitor looks up from his broom at the camera, smiles, and waves.
Devlin: Truly an exciting time to be a Raptors fan. Thanks for watching Raptors Open Gym. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go ask Colangelo to give my good buddy Leo Rautins a try-out, as we all know he can still shoot with the best of them. Until next time!