For many of us, it’s a sigh of relief after what’s unquestionably been a tough season, one that’s shown little in terms of upside. The club is again heading into the off-season without a playoff appearance under their belt (a franchise-record fifth-straight miss I’d add), little financial room to make improvements, and of course, likely no draft picks to help bolster a club that’s got issues at nearly every position. The team hasn’t even finished up the season strong, despite a flattering schedule, losing seven of their last 10, including to clubs like Detroit and Charlotte (and of course Saturday night’s disaster versus Milwaukee.)
Unlike many of his younger teammates who are still working on developing parts of their game, Johnson’s is a finished product for the most part. “Amir is going to be Amir,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. “What he does it’s hard to improve on because he has a heart as big as the country of Canada. That’s one thing he brings that you can’t teach. I don’t know how much more you can improve on that.” There is no question that effort and a refusal to back down regardless of the size of opponent or the score of the game are at the core of what makes Johnson the player he is. That’s not going to change. Johnson knows that.
“When you come in and take jobs like that and then you don’t turn it around, I think that the organization should give him an opportunity to get players and do that … Since they got Rudy Gay I think it changed around, it turned around a lot. My young kid (DeMar) DeRozan is out there, I think he’s getting better. You’ve just got to give him an opportunity, you give him a chance, put a couple more pieces around and then see what happens,” Payton said.
Have really enjoyed watching him since he came back from the D-League. He gives it his all and the experience is helping him. It’s important for the Raptors to get a sense of what they have returning for next season and he’s given them reason for optimism that he can be a solid role player. Drafting second round picks is always a crap shoot – he’s showing them that he’s worthy of their trust/faith in him. Is he going to be a big-time player? Likely not but this is more about him developing into a serviceable winning second unit guy and the minutes/experience he earns now will help in that formation. It’s on him to continue to improve his game and body but he looks like a guy who is willing to pay the price to do it – that’s all you can ask.
And this is where I felt like setting the internet on fire. I suppose this is what you get for believing in a 13-game segment from a season ago instead of the six previous seasons, but count me in on the list of people who were all-in on Bargnani. Less than six months later, this statement makes me want to shake my head at myself. It’s been a bad season in Toronto and, through injury/apathy, it has been the worst season for Bargnani. From fans booing to Italian interviews needing to be cleared up, there probably isn’t a Raptors player who is looking forward to the off-season more than Bargnani. The question now: Where will home be for Bargnani next season?
After a week off due to some scheduling conflicts we return with the best podcast in the world on your Toronto Raptors. Least we make the effort to be that which you can question about the Raptors of late. We take a look at the Raptors future and wonder if it really does get any better for this basketball team going forward. Along for the ride as always is Josh from TSN 1050 and TSN.ca.
The Bulls have won five straight in the series. Their 14th different lineup is anybody’s guess after coach Tom Thibodeau admitted starting Hinrich and Nate Robinson together didn’t work against the Pistons.
Head to head, the Raptors are 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings and 6-1 ATS in the last 7 meetings in Chicago while the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings and the underdog is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings. The Bulls are 5-12 ATS in their last 17 home games vs. a team with a losing road record, 0-4 ATS in their last 4 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400 and 12-26 ATS in their last 38 home games. The Raptors on the other hand are 0-7 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning S.U. record, 2-5 ATS in their last 7 road games and 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games overall.