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.
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?
BONUS: MISCELLANEOUS NOTES (Daye and Hansbrough)
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?