Which players bulked up? Is everyone in the best shape of their lives? Is everyone healthy? We’ve listened through all the interviews so you didn’t have to. Read on to find out what Dwane Casey and his players said after Day 2 of training camp.

Sports interviews, by in large, are ~99% fluff. Finding the truth requires you to parse through layers and layers of platitudes. Everything that is said needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Cynicism, in this very particular instance, is your best friend.

That being said, here are three take-aways from yesterday’s interviews:

1. Rudy Gay is Adapting to His Added Bulk (#15lbsmuscle)

Coach Casey said of Gay in his interview:

Rudy has done a great job with his body. Now he just needs to get used to the NBA speed with that extra weight. It’s going to help him once he gets in conditioning with it, and once he gets used to moving with it.

And this:

Because he’s added that weight…that extra step of speed is not there like it used to be when he was 10 lbs lighter. It’ll take some time to get used to it but I have no question, no problems with it whatsoever.

It’s wayyyy too early to speculate on how Gay’s added bulk will affect his performance. Will he lose a step on defense? Will the lack of quickness result in him settling for long jumpers rather than trying to beat his man in isolation (29th in NBA on points per isolation play last season)? Who knows?

The weight gain is by design; Casey intends to play him as a power forward at times this season. Is this a smart move? I don’t know. Playing Gay at the 4 means benching either one of Valanciunas or Johnson, or in other terms, benching someone who shot over 58 TS% in favour of one that couldn’t even crack 52% (granted in a 33-game sample). However, the idea of someone like Andrea Bargnani guarding Gay on the perimeter is tantalizing. Playing Gay at the 4 also allows Casey to play either Daye or Novak at the three, thereby creating more floor spacing.

2. Landry Fields’ Elbow is Almost Fully Healthy

Poor Landry. He’s been dogged by questions about his elbow at every scrum over the past three days. The people want to know; is your elbow healthy, or will you join the Bryan Colangelo pantheon of misguided mid-tier free-agent signings (Hedo, Fred Jones, Jason Kapono, Linas Kleiza, etc)? Landry had this to say:

It feels much better than before but I still got some work left to do. It’s at the point now, like I’ve been telling everybody, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. A few minor tweaks here and there, and there’s still some strength issues to be resolved, but it’s almost there.

It’s a mixed bag. On one hand, he’s making progress and there’s a month before any meaningful games are played. On the other hand, he’s still not fully healthy and he’s still struggling with strength issues. Read into it however you like, but I’ll just say this; give him time, and the benefit of the doubt.

Interestingly enough, Landry also disclosed his role in the offense, stating that:

They want me to try to get to the rim and get to the free-throw line. If the shot’s there, I’ll take it, but my role on this team is to attack attack attack.

Fields as a slasher? Maybe. He is a fantastic cutter, but aside from that, I’m not sure he has the handles, nor the explosive quickness to be a successful slasher. We’ll see. Hopefully it’s more off-ball action, rather than isolations on the wing.

3. Indiana, Imported (sort of)

Ujiri picked up two scraps off Indiana’s bench in Augustin and Hansbrough this off-season. They’re both on one-year deals, so don’t get used to them, but they do come from a team that ranked first in defensive efficiency last season. Here’s what Augustin said about how Toronto’s defense compares to Indiana’s:

I think we do the same things, same schemes, same sized players, and intensity on defense

Let’s say you’re thirsty, so you decide to walk into the convenience store to pick up a drink, and you’re presented with two options; generic cola and Coca-Cola. Cola is cheaper, and looks the same, and claims to be the same, but do you ever walk out and quench your thirst with a cola? No, you spend more for Coke and you feel guilty because you’ve consumed 14% of your daily intake of sugar in one 355 mL can.

Toronto’s defense is generic cola, sorry to say. Yeah, we have a legit centre, a pitbull at point guard and some athletic wings, but it’s just not the same. Valanciunas is no Roy Hibbert (thanks BC!) and Gay is no Paul George. If we play like the Pacers in here, but we will lose to the Pacers out there (yes, that is a quote from Moneyball).

But hey, at least the Raptors can try to copy Indiana, right?


Casey said he intends to play Daye as a stretch four:

More of a four, stretch four. He can stretch the floor and shoot the ball. He’s got to give it to us from the rebounding side of it, the defensive side. He’s got to use his length.

Daye is definitely “stretched”, but I’m not sure he qualifies as a four. I’m sure his 200 pound frame can definitely stand up to the Kevin Love and Tim Duncan’s of the world. Let’s hope Daye is only deployed sporadically.

Dwane Casey also dubbed Tyler Hansbrough “Freddy Krueger”:

Tyler Hansbrough, I’m calling him Freddy Krueger. That’s what makes him a great monster. Every once in a while you think you have him dead and there he comes back again. That’s Tyler Hansbrough.

I think we’ve found “Psycho-T” a new nickname. I’m sure he’s thrilled, and not behind me ready to tear me to bits with his claw hands for making the photoshopped picture above. I mean, if Freddy Krueger doesn’t deter you from attacking the paint, what will?

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  • Nilanka15

    Regarding Fields’ “attack, attack, attack”, I’m certain we’re talking about off-the-ball cuts, and crashing the glass hard (not ISOs).

    • DDayLewis

      Most likely, but there’s a lingering suspicion that Fields might have to create some offense off the bench, which terrifies me.

      • Nilanka15

        It’s just not his game. It would be like asking Shane Battier to create offense.

        • DDayLewis

          I totally agree, but look at our bench. Somebody has to create some offense. Who will it be, if not Fields?

          • Nilanka15

            Casey should make a conscious effort to have at least 1 (preferably 2) of Rudy, DeMar, Jonas or Lowry on the court at all times.

            With the exception of garbage time, there should never be 5 bench players on the floor together. That way, we shouldn’t see ISOs for Fields, or post-ups for Gray 😉

            • DDayLewis

              That’s why it makes so much more sense to bring Derozan off the bench. He can iso/shoot long-2’s all he wants when he’s playing with the bench unit.

              If only we had a good 3-D wing to start in his place.

              • SR

                Lineups are so dynamic and teams are all over the place with small ball/bigs/lineup combinations/systems now, questions about who’s going to be playing with the 2nd unit in the second quarter of some game in February is kind of a useless discussion at this point in time, isn’t it? This is not some arbitrary decision re: roles and minutes that’s made before the season even starts. The starting five are the best players at their positions (as is the case 99% of the time) and substitutions and lineups will depend on the context of any given game. Like Nilanka said, one or two starters will almost certainly always play with this bench, since they’re lacking a Jamaal Crawford-type 2nd unit scorer.

        • ghotte

          Not Shane Battier – he’s strictly a forward without ball handling skills. Fields can dribble the ball like a two-guard.

          • Nilanka15

            Perhaps Anthony Parker is a better comparison. Either way, not skilled enough to run ISOs.

    • Mountie

      Agree For sure. My biggest issue is it sounds like Landry is saying “don’t expect me to hit any jump shots”. And I think Casey is aware of that too. While that’s the right thing to do if he can’t shoot ….. It sucks that, while, he can’t shoot….

      • DDayLewis

        If he’s not shooting jumpers because he cant. that’s pretty smart. Rudy Gay on the other hand…

  • pran

    a little disheartening to hear gay is a step slow. Hopefully he looses a few pounds after training camp. But if Rudy Can use his extra bulk in posting up I won’t be too mad.

  • Lucas

    Personally, I think Hansbrough’s name should be, Tyler “The Terminator” Hansbrough (because he keeps coming back).

    I really hope that the energy from guys like Terminator, Amir, and Jonas rubs off on the rest of the team. I could get behind a team that gives 110%, win or lose.

    • ckh26

      Agree ….. Tyler Hansbrough should help our guys play two inches taller and 15 lbs heavier. Injecting some second glances and perhaps some fear by way of mayhem at the hands of Hansbough will add a degree of confidence to some players that there is a sheriff to help them out. Not since Oakley have we had a serious thug. I know this can’t be quanitified via stats but watch the mouth and actions of the leafs when Orr/McLaren are around. Call it energy or guts osmosis.. but Hansbrough will help

      • DDayLewis

        Please don’t invoke the names of Orr and McLaren.

        First off, this is a Raptors site and most people are pretty jaded when it comes to the Leafs.

        Second, comparing Hansbrough to mindless goons in Orr/McLaren is an insult to Hansbrough, who actually has legitimate skills that are pertinent to his sport. Hansbrough isn’t a black-mark on basketball the way Orr/McLaren are to hockey, They are glorified reminders of how backwards the sport of hockey is.

        • ckh26

          Sorry man.. didn’t mean to touch a nerve using the hockey comparisons. Should have used the Ron Artest/ MWP as the compare. MWP has skills… but will probably be most remembered for his non basketball play to the head of James Harden in the playoffs and his trip into the stands in Detroit. TH not in that class of thuggery or skill but its better than nothing. TH can bring some level of confidence to the floor that the posturing of the Kevin Garnett types (KG is North Toronto tough) may be somewhat mitigated by just pushing back. We don’t have that kind of player .. Maybe Acy. Re Kobe: Yeesh he is scary because he is that good and will make you pay on the scoreboard.

          • DDayLewis

            Sorry, I didn’t mean to unleash a hockey rant on you (a bit hypocritical given point 1).

            Out of curiosity, what is “North Toronto tough”?

            • ckh26

              Someone one who tells you they are going to beat you to death as they back away as fast as they can and then jump into their BMW and drive away after wetting their pants..

              • DDayLewis

                I’ve lived in Toronto for the past 13 years and I’ve never heard that one before. I guess that’s what I get for living in Etobicoke.

                • ckh26

                  Seriously Garnett talks tough.. but tissue paper could hold him back from actually engaging with someone if it came to it on the court. Watch how KG has to be “held back” in every altercation. I think he would wet his pants if he heard the most feared words in a sports dust up… “Let em go”

                • SR

                  That Celtics team really lost their edge after: a) Perkins was traded, and b) everybody realized this is basketball, and no matter how much these guys bark, swear, glare, etc. they aren’t actually going to do anything to you. Worst-case scenario there’s gonna be a couple wildly missed slap attempts, a lot of back peddling, and a bunch of guys holding each other back. Whoop.

                  KD’s “fake tough guy” comments about summed it up. Players have realized all that crap doesn’t really mean anything anymore.

                  Players make so much $$$ now, I think they basically respect each other’s earning potential. Nobody wants to seriously injure a guy, cut his career short, and cost him and his family millions (literally) of dollars. I wonder if current salaries would have had a similar effect in the past when, as the old farts like to remind us, everyone played so much tougher. They were just competitors back in the day and not a brotherhood of millionaires.

                • DDayLewis

                  Why do we want NBA players injuring each other?

                • SR

                  I don’t.

      • SR

        I don’t really think Hansbrough intimidates anybody. He’s not KG or Kobe – and he doesn’t even inhabit the same solar system as Oak – he’s a high motor guy who flails around a lot and tries to draw contact. We’ve all played against guys like that – they don’t scare you, but the sure do piss you off. Distracting the opposition that way helps sometimes, as long as you keep your cool.

  • Casey Sherman

    “in favour of one that couldn’t even crack 48%”

    D’oh! Off by 3%. Sloppy, William. Sloppy.

    I saw Fields shoot in a vine clip by the way, and I can tell you with absolute certainty his shot is still in the tank. It may be getting better, but not to the point where you actually want him taking 3’s. Like, I’m sure we’d all rather he go 2/14 again than 10/40

    With regard to the Gay as a 4 thing, I think you read too much into it. Casey’ll still keep the starting 5, he just might, say, sub in Ross for Johnson as his first move. Ross/DeRozan would then play the 2/3 Rudy would play the 4. You can’t have Gay-Johnson-Valanciunas always together. If DC does change the starting lineup though, I’m totally with you in saying that’s a bad idea.

    • DDayLewis

      Corrected! I’m mixing up his numbers from Memphis and Toronto. He shot 47.8 TS% in Memphis (http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/g/gayru01.html).

      I don’t really anticipate too much of Gay at PF either. Casey isn’t too big on small-ball, but he might trot out the lineup when Amir inevitably gets into foul trouble.

  • Tim

    Re: Gay playing power forward opening up time for Daye and Novak at small forward… If they’re playing at the same time, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter which position you arbitrarily assign to them. But I guess the point is that if Rudy has the strength to guard legit 4s, those other guys won’t have to (they’ll just have to keep up with wings like Lebron and Durant, no big deal).

    • DDayLewis

      Oh lord. Daye guarding Lebron is something that should never happen. Lebron has like 70 pounds on him.

  • elkabong

    call it Pacer-lite or just traditional it is by far the best lineup we can put on the court at this time. i cringe when they talk about putting Rudy at the 4 mostly because it’s such a massive drop off to whomever you want to put at the 3 so it seems to make no sense to me. i did chuckle at your example of Dye or Novak at the 3 with Rudy at the 4 since it’s really the same line up but it’s like you expect to holler at the nicks hey Mellow you need to guard Novak now while Bargs guards Rudy ok! it may make some sense against certain opponents but i saw nothing last season of Rudy at the 4 to feel optimistic about it,perhaps a full training camp can help in that regard

  • M

    What a pointless blog!

  • Slam

    I like the quotes from money ball and breaking bad, even though your wrong lol

  • youngjames

    Don’t expect anything (again) this year with Fields – he is doing what many of other sports guys have done…Fell in love last year now is newly married, with a new baby and 7 million per year to play with and guaranteed that money this year and next year. His head is at home on his new family and he is living the life of a millionaire. Basketball has now become second nature in his life… his head is not on this sport. How hurt would he be if his contract wasn’t guaranteed?

  • chad

    Is an old myth that muscle weight gain makes you slower 9 times out of 10 more muscle = faster and quicker…is why 100m sprinters look like the hulk

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