Heading into next season every member of the roster has something to prove to the fans, franchise and the league. Here goes.
Quincy Acy: Can he prove that he’s more than a Lonny Baxter sighting? Will he end up carving himself a niche like Dejuan Blair did for the Spurs a couple years back? Assuming Bargnani’s out, the minutes will increase, but whether the productivity will scale from garbage time minutes to meaningful ones remains to be seen.
DeMar DeRozan: Can he prove that he’s worth the $9.5M salary that’s due to him next year? In comparison, Paul George will make $3.3M on his rookie scale deal, which the Pacers haven’t even extended yet. Areas of improvement remain the same for DeRozan: shooting, ball-handling and defense, none of which have seen significant improvement since he came into the league.
Landry Fields: Can he prove that he’s even worth 1/3rd of what he’s getting paid? Signed because of the failed luring of Steve Nash (thank God!), Fields was sold as a defensive three who could fill the gaps on offense as needed. After a disappointing initial campaign, “bouncing back” in his case would only entail not being downright harmful to the team.
Rudy Gay: Can he prove that he’s not the reason Memphis was being held back? Can he prove that he can be an All-Star type player, which he’s advertised as? Can he prove that he can be the #1 option on a team? Can he shed the label of a selfish player? Actually, he’s got a LOT to prove.
Amir Johnson: Can he prove to the Raptors that they don’t need to look for a starting power forward, and that instead of grooming Bargnani all these years, it was him they should’ve paid attention to? Whether he’ll revert to a bench role, or elevate himself to become the unquestioned starter in the NBA will be determined this year. Can’t wait.
Kyle Lowry: Can he prove that he can be a starting NBA point guard on a playoff team? Memphis, Houston and now Toronto, he’s had a chance everywhere and has never made the shift from a scoring backup to a legitimate starting option. There are no obstacles in front of him, and the Raptors even shed Jose Calderon to show confidence in him. They even got his friend to play with him, and the ball is now entirely in Lowry’s court.
Terrence Ross: Can he prove that he’s not a Chris Jefferies? The rookie campaign was hampered by inconsistent playing time, but you’d have a hard time arguing that said playing time wasn’t commensurate with the quality he displayed. Will he be to Andre Drummond what Hoffa was to Iguodala? We’ll find out soon enough.
Jonas Valanciunas: Can he prove that he’s capable of taking the next step in his development now that the book is out on him? Getting by with hustle and anonymity was nice to see, but now the scouting reports are out and the surprise factor is gone. Teams will be zoned in on him and he’ll have to be stronger, work doubly hard, just to repeat the impact he had last season.
Guys that don’t fit in this post:
Linas Kleiza: Can he prove that there is justice in the world? The Raptors made him a millionaire for doing nothing, the least he could do is get traded.
Aaron Gray: He’s fine. Do what you’re doing.
Andrea Bargnani: Um…can he prove that…er…he can…umm…got it..can he prove that he can…um…close the door on his way out?
- Casey interview: Rudy has gained 10-15 lbs of muscle
- Casey Stay of Execution a Move of Self-Preservation by Ujiri