A gripe about the horrible commute into downtown Toronto, then a few thoughts on Demar Derozan’s newfound post-game, Toronto’s poor pick-and-roll defense and even poorer bench unit.

Are you familiar with Dante’s Inferno? The nine circles of hell? Well, Dante missed one; the tenth circle of hell is when you’re on the Gardiner “Express”-way during rush hour. I got four free tickets thanks to a fan appreciation event, but the commute into downtown Toronto was a nightmare. A 45 minute trip turned into a 2 hour long re-enactment of this scene from Wayne’s World (only replace Bohemian Rhapsody with G-Unit tracks). Needless to say, I was late and I missed the first ~15 minutes of the game. Ugh.

Moving on, here are three key takeaways from yesterday’s preseason match-up between the Raptors and the Timberwolves.

1. Demar Derozan’s Development on Offense

I’m not a big fan of Derozan’s game. His game never looks any good in the boxscore (volume shooter at slightly below average efficiency, nothing else), he’s a below-average defender and every time I watch him play, he always seems to be jacking up a mid-range jumper. Maybe it’s just a “when in Rome…” thing, but I’ve always wanted him to become a Kawhi Leonard type; someone who can knock down open threes, move well without the ball, make good decisions and be an effective wing defender.

My biggest gripe with Derozan is that he hasn’t really shown any development since his sophomore year. He added a mid-range jumper to his game between year 1 and year 2, but aside from that, he really hasn’t made any other tangible changes. I know the boxscore isn’t everything, but look at his per-36 numbers over the last three seasons:

dd per 36

Can you honestly tell me that there has been any tangible or significant changes in his production? I doubt it. Despite his elite athleticism, he hasn’t become a good defender, he hasn’t really developed good handles to allow him to attack the paint and he isn’t a great passer either.

That being said, he’s looked like a different player in his last two games (small sample size and it’s pre-season; duly noted). His handles look tighter which is allowing him to attack the basket off-the-dribble with regularity. He’s also flashed a bit of a post-game, showing off some nice spin-moves and a couple of up-and-unders. He’s a little more calm when attacking the basket, taking his time to settle in, throwing in a newly minted set of jab-steps and shot-fakes, and it is working for him. Look at his shot chart from yesterday’s game. Isn’t this what we all want to see from DD?

DD shot chart

Altogether, the new aggressive approach has allowed him to score 30 points on only 19 shots through two games. Obviously he won’t touch those numbers come the regular season, but if he continues to trade off-balanced jumpshots for forays to the rim, Demar might very well be in for a breakout season. Let’s hope we see more of this aggression from Derozan this season:

http://imgur.com/MQYuTdb

But let’s also hope that he develops a three-pointer and that he somehow lives up to his ridiculous contract.

2. The Pick and Roll Defense is a Problem

Maybe I should preface this with the fact that it’s preseason, and that Ricky Rubio is a basketball wizard, but Toronto’s pick-and-roll defense was horrible. Pekovic and Love are both big dudes, but they’re not so big that they should be able to single-handedly pick two defenders, which happened on a couple of occasions. I don’t know if it was just a lack of communication, but Lowry and Johnson/Hansbrough/Valanciunas were not on the same page. Minnesota ran an endless stream of pick and rolls with the starters, and Toronto looked completely out of sorts.

Sometimes, Lowry would try to fight over the screen to chase Rubio around the perimeter (dumb idea because Rubio isn’t much of a threat from the outside) which allowed Rubio to have momentum going to the rim. Johnson/Hansbrough/Valanciunas did a poor job of denying the ball to either Pek or Love, which allowed them to score in the paint. Once Rubio got through the initial line of defense, he picked the Raptors apart with his passing. It wasn’t pretty, as you can see from the link below:

http://i.imgur.com/ZS6fH33.gif?1

In this day and age, the most important thing on defense is the ability to defend the pick-and-roll. If you can shut down the pick-and-roll (like the Bulls), you will have an excellent defense. If not, you’re screwed. It’s a pick-and-roll league, and if you can’t swim, you’ll be eaten by the sharks (or consequently, if you can’t ski, you’ll be bitten by the timberwolves?). The impetus is on Dwane Casey to find a strategy that works, and it’s on the players to effectively execute it.

3. Our Bench Unit Cannot Function as a Unit

You thought the bench was bad last season? Oh boy. Casey went to a line-up of Buycks-Ross-Novak-Hansbrough-Fields (with a few variations) for much of the third and the entirety of the fourth, and let me tell you, it was really ugly. The unit mustered a whopping total of 17 points in a quarter and a half and the defense wasn’t too hot either. Minnesota’s bench demolished ours.

The main issue with the bench unit is that there is no shot creation whatsoever. Some of you might scoff at the notion of “shot creation”, but it is a real thing, and it’s a real thing that the bench lacks. Buycks struggled to initiate the offense for anyone other than himself, and Landry Fields inexplicably got about half the play-making duties out there, and let me tell you, his playmaking is about as pretty as his jumpshot. It was miserable. At one point, Tyler Hansbrough was the go to scorer. Tyler Hansbrough!

Our bench is a collection of tools; they’re useful, but you can’t build something with tools alone; you need materials to work with. Novak is a great spot-up three point shooter which the starting lineup could really use, Hansbrough is a great energy guy and he’s a decent third big, but when Demar, Gay or Lowry isn’t on the court, the ball stops and the offense is relegated to contested jumpers.

One potential solution is to have Derozan come off the bench. First, he would theoretically be facing weaker competition which should allow him to be more effective offensively. Second, it gives the second unit a much needed ball-handler (Fields is only effective on offense as a cutter). Third, there will actually  be someone on the court who can put the ball in the basket without assistance. It just makes too much sense to me.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • We saw some small-ball, with Novak at the four. This left Rudy Gay to defend Kevin Love on defense, and this resulted in me putting a sad face in my game notes (Love backed down Gay and scored)
  • When Demar and Gay shared the floor, the better defender (Corey Brewer) guarded Gay. Is this why Demar’s numbers have looked so good? Cue the On/Off numbers debate in 3, 2, 1…
  • Amir sunk a three! His release is still slow as molasses but he looks comfortable shooting from outside, but he’s smart enough to not shoot it very often. That’s why we love you, Amir!
  • Lots of ticky tack fouls called on the Raptors in the third. I thought the Raptors spoke to the league about this?
  • Kevin Love looks really skinny as compared to when he first entered the league. He was quick and lithe, while being just as deadly as ever ensnaring rebounds. Grab him in your fantasy leagues, folks!
  • Nikola Pekovic is as big in person as you would imagine.
  • The atmosphere for a Wednesday night preseason tilt was great. The place looked ~85% full and it was loud in the first half. Maybe it was because they gave out so many free seats?
  • Dwane Casey draws up some terrible plays out of the time out. I’m really displeased with Casey’s coaching.
  • Once again, Ricky Rubio is a wizard
  • Landry Fields should not shoot in public. His shot somehow looks even worse than last year. He sticks out both his elbows on the shot and he seems to push the ball towards the rim with both hands. He only made 2/6 three pointers in the halftime shootaround. It’s not looking good :(
  • Ronnie Turiaf is the angel to Tyler Hansbrough’s devil
  • Next game will be played at 7 PM on Friday October 11th. They’ll be taking on the beloved New York Knicks and everyone’s favorite Italian Stalion, Andrea Bargnani. I am so excited to see him not in a Raptors uniform. I can’t wait.

  • ibleedpurple

    Highlight of the game – Alleyoop one handed slam by DD. That got me out of my seat in a hurry. One more thing to mention is that Rudy Gay is looking significantly bigger. Corey Brewer was manhandled by him on a couple drives to the rim. If Gay continues to take his man inside there really are only a few SFs his size/skill that will give him trouble on the defensive end.

  • http://www.gamervets.com/ M1GO

    Correction – they’re playing the Bargnaknicks this Friday. Should be interesting. Primo Pasta should hand out free tickets to this one for subjecting us to years and years of that awful commercial.

    • DDayLewis

      Fixed! I’m so excited to see Bargs play AGAINST the Raptors.

      • NyAlesund

        Do not be excited. Now he is focused on playing with Melo and Tyson. I do not think he will impress much friday considering that it would be the second game since last year.

        It will be more interesting during the RS when presumably he will be in shape.

  • Nilanka15

    I’m really impressed with DeRozan’s commitment to attacking/posting up.

    Although he started last season similarly, and then settled for the lazy game as the season wore on. Hope that doesn’t happen this year.

    • RaptorFan

      Wow….your impressed with Demar?? I’m shocked…..considering you, Matt52, TimW, etc. have been bashing the guy for over a year…….I’m just hoping that he keeps proving you guys wrong :)
      Don’t think we forgot!!
      I’m pretty sure Demar has heard your constant “inefficient, no improvement, no handles, he is what he is” GARBAGE you guys keep spewing…..lol
      *yes, it is preseason, but if you don’t show what you’ve been working on now……*
      Do you still think Fields and Ross should be our starting SGs?? LOL silly fans…

      • Nilanka15

        Relying on past evidence is “garbage” now?

        Silly fans.

        • RaptorFan

          Evidence or growth??……some fans just love to hate…..

          • Nilanka15

            Are you purposely ignoring the 3 seasons of identical data cited in the article above?

            • Ghotte

              And those are bad stats?

              • Nilanka15

                They’re OK stats, but I’m asking RaptorFan where the “growth” is?

                Anyways, I make one postive comment about DeRozan’s game last night, and this turns into yet another pointless “hater/fanboy” debate. There’s nothing new to discuss.

            • RaptorFan

              Are you ignoring them NOW or do you think that he may just be slowly improving like some of us have been saying for a while now??? I told you he’s better than some of you give him credit and i’m happy you can finally see for yourself.
              Your just impressed now? LOL Wait till you see Demar this coming season. I told you he works HARD! :) It’s sooooo obvious he’s already better than he was last year……its called MATURITY! Silly fans….

              • Nilanka15

                He played a good game last night, something he’s done before in his career. Nothing new here.

                You wanna claim your prophecy to be true based on 2 preseason games? Sure, be my guest. Now please have a seat next to cesco in the “he just needs 7 years” corner.

                • RaptorFan

                  comparing Demar to Bargnani……another foolish mistake…..keep piling them up Nilanka! :)

                • Nilanka15

                  Correction, comparing superfan to superfan

              • sleepz

                They’ve played 2 preseason games. You might want to wait for the season to play out before making any definitive statements.
                I have also been one of he fans who has questioned his handles, defence, and his overall game and although through the first 2 games he has looked solid, I thought the same thing about him last preseason.

            • ItsAboutFun

              “the 3 seasons of identical data cited in the article above?”

              Which is the essence of what I see so wrong about the article. DeMar plays great, showing improved handles, post play, and decision making in the process, and 4 times as much space is taken up being critical of past seasons,,,,,, in an article supposedly about last night’s game. Some people just get stuck on past opinions and won’t let go.

              As far as the “identical data” comment, it’s stats, not a true picture of his improvements EVERY year.

              • Nilanka15

                Hey, I totally agree. He played well last night.

                You can thank someone above for derailing this into a “DeMar is god/DeMar sucks” contest anything beyond 1 game.

                Anyways, I understand the limitations of stats. The stats don’t show that DeMar’s handles have improved, that’s he’s gotten stronger, that he’s improved his range, etc. But if these improvements don’t result in improved numbers, one has to wonder why so much weight is placed on these improvements in the first place.

              • WhiteVegas

                Agreed. Time for the writers of this site to let go of the past. If anyone stinks it up this season then lay into them, but we don’t need to open pre-season with a hit piece on Demar when he has been the best player on our team all summer/pre-season.

                • DDayLewis

                  Apparently you missed this entire section:

                  That being said, he’s looked like a different player in his last two games (small sample size and it’s pre-season; duly noted). His handles look tighter which is allowing him to attack the basket off-the-dribble with regularity. He’s also flashed a bit of a post-game, showing off some nice spin-moves and a couple of up-and-unders. He’s a little more calm when attacking the basket, taking his time to settle in, throwing in a newly minted set of jab-steps and shot-fakes, and it is working for him. Look at his shot chart from yesterday’s game. Isn’t this what we all want to see from DD?

                  Altogether, the new aggressive approach has allowed him to score 30 points on only 19 shots through two games. Obviously he won’t touch those numbers come the regular season, but if he continues to trade off-balanced jumpshots for forays to the rim, Demar might very well be in for a breakout season.

                • WhiteVegas

                  I saw that section. I just wish you didn’t preface it with a big steamy dump on DD’s past play. We have played 2 preseason games so I don’t know why you even tried to compare that small sample to the past 3 years other than to include a negative comment on DD (who’s play so far has been nothing but positive).

                • DDayLewis

                  Dude, I opened the section with the title: “1. Demar Derozan’s Development on Offense”

                  And you say that I shouldn’t try to compare based on the limited sample, and then in the very same sentence you say “who’s play so far has been nothing but positive”). That’s the quickest double standard I have EVER seen.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  If DeRozan had great stats in the past, would you still feel that way? The best way to predict a player’s future is to look at his past stats. Ignoring a player’s past simply doesn’t make sense.

                • ItsAboutFun

                  Spending more space and time dwelling on the past, than on his current performance, in an article supposedly about last night’s game, makes sense to you? From what perspective might that be?

                • DDayLewis

                  Spending space and time missing the point makes sense to you?

                • ItsAboutFun

                  Nope.

                • WhiteVegas

                  His past shouldn’t take up over half the discussion of him in a post about the 2nd preseason game, regardless if he had been an All Star last year or not. Some of you guys can’t help but inject hate for our players into every piece written. DD has been playing so good this preseason that the only way to inject some hate was for a lengthy reference to the past 3 seasons. If you wanna talk negative, plenty of guys on the team are playing poorly in the preseason, discuss that, it’s actually relevant to an article about the 2nd preseason game.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  This is what bothers me. Criticism isn’t “injecting hate”. People have to get past this attitude.

                  It seemed to me the reason William wrote a good portion about DeRozan’s past was for background and context, which was important when discussing his offensive development. DeRozan, whether it’s good or not, is a very important piece of the team, and you can’t simply ignore what he’s done in the past because you don’t like to hear about it.

                • WhiteVegas

                  The article title is “Three stray thoughts from Raptors vs Timberwolves”. How does a negatively slanted statistical breakdown of Demar’s past 3 seasons have anything to do with the title other than to focus a bunch of negativity on Demar, who at the moment, doesn’t deserve any of it.

                  Why would we need 3 years of background and context in order to discuss Demars play in a preseason game? You think people coming to a Raptors blog for some news on the preseason have no idea who Demar is or what he’s done the past 3 years?

                  If you want to write an article on Demars offensive development this season, I think you need to wait until we have some actual regular season games to compare to the past 3 years of regular season games. I really don’t get how after 2 preseason games is the perfect time for a 3 year breakdown of his play in the regular season.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  If what he said was slanted in a positive way, would you still have complained?

                • ItsAboutFun

                  This is what bothers me. When people complain about the INCESSANT criticism, whatever terminology that used (“hate” may be a lazy term, but a convenient one to get the point across), the incessant critiques jump all over some term like “hate”, instead of addressing the gist of the comment,,,,, or even resort to condescending retorts like “I don’t understand why people take it personally” (putting themselves above the peons they see in others), when it’s not “personal” at all, but expressing fatigue over the incessant criticism of history (like we haven’t heard the same crap from y’all for months!), as in this case about a supposed “game thread”. Man, it’s one thing to be critical, but when it’s repeated over and over and over, even when it’s misplaced, it’s whining and/or making one feel good about themselves through dissing others. Not everyone that complains is taking it personal, just expressing that they’re tired of the same chant over and over again.

                • Louvens Remy

                  Hey Michael Jordan’s stats looked the same every year as well. Didn’t mean he didn’t improve. It’s pretty obvious that Demar is improving regardless of what his past stats look like. I don’t think he will ever be a great 3 point shooter. That’s not his game. Tons of guys (ie: Dwyane Wade, Iverson, Derrick Rose, westbrook) are effective without it. Not saying that Demar is on their level but those guys are effective because they continue to attack the basket, get to the line and hit the midrange off the bounce. Small sample size or not, its really obvious that Demar has improved over the last 3 years despite what the stats “look” like.

                  I agree, that over the next 2-3 years, whether he is a Raptor or not, he needs to get his 3pt% up to the 35%-38% range to really take the leap to elite level. But for now, I am happy with his improvement over the last 3 years.

                • Louvens Remy

                  Hey Tim W. I didn’t mean this as a reply to your post. Sorry.

                • DDayLewis

                  Rose developed into a pretty good three point shooter in his MVP season.

                  You’re right about the fact that numbers can be deceiving. I acknowledge that right in the piece. However, it’s a bit of a cop-out unless you can point out where exactly he’s improved, and corroborate that with some evidence.

                  So I ask you, where has Demar Derozan improved?

                • Louvens Remy

                  The only way I can deduce that he has improved is that he has a better SH% on shots at the rim with a lower assist percentage on those shots. His mid range game has improved, slightly and the number of those shots that are assisted on are a bit lower as well. This just means to me that he isn’t relying just on a alley oop or put back dunk.

                  I am probably cherry picking a bit as the numbers change very slightly, but I can say just watching him from the end of last year to the start of the preseason there is a definite improvement in his ball handling, mid range game and decision making. I don’t know where the stat “confidence” and “experience” come in to play.

                  You are definitely right that he hasn’t made the “leap” yet. This year looks like it will be the year that he takes it to the next level and becomes someone that needs to be doubled in the post and in 1 on 1 iso situations. You are right. He is not there yet.

                  http://www.hoopdata.com/player.aspx?name=DeMar%20DeRozan

                • Casey Sherman

                  “Rose developed into a pretty good three point shooter in his MVP season.”

                  William what the heck are you talking about? 33% is not “pretty good”. Rudy Gay shot 3’s better as a Raptor than Rose did in his MVP year….

                • DDayLewis

                  Whoops. I remembered him being much better. That was part of the narrative for his MVP campaign. Yeah 33% is bad.

                • 2damkule

                  33% isn’t necessarily ‘bad’ – yes, it’s below league average, but there is context here.

                  rose needed to develop/expand his range, or at least that he’s a threat from long range, in order to make better use of his other well above average / otherwordly skills (namely, getting to the hoop & creating opportunities for himself and others). while his 3P% was low per league standards, he attempted 6 times as many 3’s that year than the previous season, and forced teams to play him tighter on the perimeter by hitting a respectable percentage, which opened up the floor for him even more.

                  not all 3-pt shots are created equal, and i’d argue that a guy like rose can afford to shoot a lower percentage because of the added benefits the threat of that shot creates for him. so yeah, 33% would be pretty shitty for a novak type of player, who’s only real skill is taking/making that specific shot, but for rose, it’s just one of many weapons in his arsenal.

                • ppellico

                  if you don’t remember the ast, you are bound to repaet it. isn’t that something like the way the saying goes? I agree. you need to learn from the past. and you are right again about feeling free to crtisize players and the game. BTW…is it just me or did anybody else see a ray of hope with Novak shooting threes? Imagine if set up properly and for short periods with JV inside….this will really open it up for the big fellow.

  • Nilanka15

    As for the “2nd unit” (man, I hate that term), I sincerely hope that there won’t be a time when Casey resorts to 5 bench players on the court together.

    As mentioned above, Lowry, Jonas, DeRozan and Gay are the only players on this roster capable of scoring consistently. 2 of them should be on the floor at all times.

    • http://www.gamervets.com/ M1GO

      One thing that still annoys me is Casey’s 2 PG rotation, especially now that both backups he plays are severely undersized. I hope he’s just doing this to get a feel for who will be the primary backup, but there are better ways to experiment, no? I do like Buycks’ defensive intensity though.

      I’m very intrigued by Julyan Stone on this team. The guy is larger than I thought, and if he can play point decently, then I wouldn’t mind Casey using him as the 2nd PG to defend opposing bench SGs.

      • DDayLewis

        Indiana featured a lot of lineups with Augustin as a second ball handler/spot up corner shooter. Maybe Casey’s just trying that out?

        • http://www.gamervets.com/ M1GO

          That’s all well and good if he actually had drawn up plays where Augustin can get the ball at the corner for a 3, but I didn’t really see that. Remember last year, he kept using the Jose/Lowry and Lowry/JL3 combo?

          Plus, these lineups usually feature all the bench players, so there’s really no double team threats on the floor in order to get DJ free for the shot. And on the defensive end, we’ve got one of our < 6' PGs guarding a bigger guard like Shved.

          Casey's back to his old tricks.

          Tricks that didn't work.

          • DDayLewis

            Casey’s offensive schemes are downright awful. He drew up a play out of a time out last night that resulted in a desperation three with 5 seconds left. The ball was only passed 2 times. Part of that is on the players to execute, but it’s time and time again.

            • http://www.gamervets.com/ M1GO

              I’m pretty sure we also had a possession out of a time out that ended up being a turnover out of bounds. That kind of crap just shouldn’t fly.

              Oh, and their INBOUNDING still scares the crap out of me. I’d love to be in on their practices:

              Lowry: Hey Coach, are we gonna practice inbounding plays?

              Casey: Errr.. Uh.. Right, I was just getting to that. So, uh, why don’t all of you just line up at the key… and uh… here Buycks, take the ball at baseline. When Dwight slaps the ball, everyone run to one side or the other. Buycks, I’m leaving it all up to you to find the open man. Don’t disappoint me.

      • Louvens Remy

        I’ve been suggesting that they should allow Ross to run the second unit as a point/forward. Would probably help in his development and seeing the court. Also the fact that he can probably break down a few guys with his handle would allow them to play Augustin off the ball a little bit more. Just a thought.

        • RaptorFan

          Good idea!

    • GLF

      I couldn’t agree more but I don’t think he will do that which scares me. I feel he’s learned his lesson somewhat and will always have ONE starter on with the bench but I don’t think he will ever have two. Hopefully I’m wrong.

  • http://www.gamervets.com/ M1GO

    I’ve been both a critic and a proponent of DeMar over the years… and it looks like he’s finally turned a corner (grain of salt: it’s preseason, against lacklustre defenders and a tiny sample size), but he seems to be playing much smarter – except for that one turnover he had. He’s developed some really nice up and under moves in the post, where in the past he would’ve settled for the turnaround fadeaway, and his handle seems more confident. Having Rudy around to focus on the other team’s wing stopper probably doesn’t hurt either.

    I was really hoping to see more of Chris Wright, Julyan Stone and Carlos Morais in this game. I’d honestly take any of them over Austin Daye right now, and that’s saying a lot since I’ve barely seen them play. And why is Acy buried on the bench in preseason? Are the Raps saving their secret weapon for the regular season? :p

    • DDayLewis

      The trio of Wright, Stone and Morais all saw the floor in the fourth and they all looked pretty bad. I don’t understand why Ujiri brought these three into camp. It’s pretty clear they need a third centre more than anything else.

      • Ghotte

        Partially Agree. Stone and Morais and Daye look *completely* lost. Buycks started to get a feel for things after 4 or 5 minutes. At least, he was trying to create for his teammates. He’ll be fine a couple games (same thing happened during Summer League.) I don’t think there’s a useful 3rd centre out there. Wright is the only one with some potential. At least he doesn’t look/play afraid.

      • http://www.gamervets.com/ M1GO

        They were inserted at the tail end of a lost game, with little to play for and barely any time to show anything except how to swing the ball around the perimeter or try to get an entry pass into JV. It’s hard to say they looked pretty bad when our coach just haphazardly threw together a group of invite players on court as people were leaving the ACC.

        I get that they’re evaluated during practices and whatnot, but what’s the point of having these guys in uniform if we’re not going to give them enough minutes to prove themselves against NBA talent (even scrub talent)? Their minutes combined didn’t even amount to the number that were given to Austin Daye on Monday, and that dude has been terrible so far.

        • Ghotte

          Little to play for? Might I suggest that minted 15th spot on the roster as motivation?

      • WhiteVegas

        Gray is the 3rd center. Hansbrough/Amir is the 2nd center. That’s been pretty clear these 2 preseason games. JV, Amir, and Hansbrough will combine for nearly 100% of the C minutes.

  • thegloveinrapsuniform

    I was at the game as well! Bell tickets too! What section were you on?

    • DDayLewis

      119M. The seats were fantastic,

  • Rick d

    Hey like your posts articles. But today you talk a lot is sh**. Demar is playing hard and aleays show improvement. You need to stop haiting man. You just judge to much on a player who is showing lots of development. What you need to talk about is other things like the defense and bench. Again you write good stuff but demars game is better than you describe it to be!!!!

    • RaptorFan

      Honestly, its the constant theme on this site!
      Guys like Lou, TimW, etc. all believe they know sooo much. So, they want to relegate one of our top 2 best players to the bench OR trade him. They want to replace a talent like Demar (who is very young, gets to the free throw line, super athletic, has a great mid range game and can actually get a basket without needing to be set up with wide open shots) with a scrub like Danny Green. “3 and D” is what they like to call it. I call it scrubs who cant dribble, who play decent defence (often on amazing teams with other good defenders *no bargnanis* and can only shoot).
      It’s a joke!

      • DDayLewis

        Why is it an insult to be brought off the bench? There’s a difference between “benching” a player, which is to take away his minutes, and “bringing a player off the bench”, which just means he doesn’t start. I still want Derozan to play 30 minutes a game, I just think his scoring talents would be maximized if he helped the second unit not look completely terrible on the court, rather than the starting lineup which has enough scoring, IMO.

        And we definitely know very little. We’re just fans like everyone else here.

        • RaptorFan

          OR
          I, like Arsenalist, think that 2 out of Lowry, DD and Rudy should be on the floor at ALL TIMES
          Its pretty simple…..DD has never come off the bench. Are you just smarter than our coaches??? We don’t even know how he would respond to it. I say you look to improve the bench through trades, etc.
          You don’t send *arguably* your best player to the bench PERIOD! Especially in favour of scrubs!

          • DDayLewis

            Yeah, I also think that at least one of Lowry, DD and/or Gay should be on the floor at all times. One easy way to accomplish this would be to bring DD off the bench.

            And Demar is not the best player on this team.

            • RaptorFan

              did you miss arguably?? OR do you just think someone else is THAT much better …..please point out this person! Your the “stats guy” right? You must have some special stats that we dont have…..please tell me who who stands out sooooo far above the rest on THIS team. Go ahead.

              • DDayLewis

                Amir Johnson and Kyle Lowry are definitely better than Demar.

                And calm down, will you? You’re getting really riled up over this.

                • RaptorFan

                  Hahaha….i’m so laid back!…..I was calm until you mentioned the above….Kyle Lowry and Amir is better than Demar ?? Nevermind that they play totally different roles……Amir i can understand because he’s a fan favourite BUT NO WAY is Kyle (who loses his starting job on every team he goes to UNLESS there’s NO competition) better than Demar RIGHT NOW. I would bet you $$$$ that Demar is option number 1-2 on this team and Kyle is option number 3-4. Kyle is a point guard who should be running plays…..He’s older BUT not better than Demar.

                • DDayLewis

                  Kyle puts the ball in the basket at an efficient rate (because he takes smart shots, except for the occasional transition three late in games), leads all point guards in charges drawn per game, rebound exceptionally well and he posted a top-11 assist rate last season.

                  What does Derozan do aside from score?

                • RaptorFan

                  apparantly nothing…..as you were hater!

                • Nilanka15

                  You determine which player is “best” by their hierarchy on offense?

                  That’s all we need to know.

                • Louvens Remy

                  Uhhhhh. That’s kinda how it works. Look up every team and their best player is the number one or 2 option depending on how many elite players are on their team. Lets not get over analytic here. I think the term best should be replaced with skills.

                  If we are going to look at skills then I would say Lowry is a bit more skillful then Demar, but Demar is clearly a more skillful player than Amir. The intangibles that Amir brings to the team makes him a bit more “valuable” but he can’t score like Demar so the team wouldn’t have much of a chance because Amir is pretty one dimensional. He has no handle, he can’t really shoot, he can’t create shots for himself etc. He is a good piece but he is no way by any stretch better/skillfuller (made that one up) than Demar. We all know that the best, meaning skillful, player on the team is Rudy Gay.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  In most cases, the best player IS the top scorer, but definitely not always. On the Clippers, Chris Paul took the third most shots per game, but was definitely their best player.

                  Marc Gasol is Memphis’ best player, but was the fourth option before they traded Gay away.

                  Speaking of Gay, I do agree he is the most skilled player on the team, but that doesn’t make him the best. It just makes him potentially the best. To me, the best player on the team is the player who is the most indispensable and the one who has the most positive effect on the team. Last year that was Amir Johnson.

                • Louvens Remy

                  Interesting take. I believe that Chris Paul, by nature of having the ball in his hands all the time is the first option to either score or lead the team to an high percentage scoring chance. With that said, their second best player, Blake Griffin, was their leading scorer, because of their best player controlling the game.

                  As for Gasol, you may have a point there. I don’t necessarily think he is their best player, I am partial to Mike Conley being their best all around player since he has a lot more responsibility on offence and defence, but I digress. But you do have a point with Gasol. But I do have a question though, if he is their best player why is he a 3rd or 4th option on offence?

                  Although, I love Amir and think that his contributions do affect the overall nature of the team, in a positive way, I truly believe that there are plenty of guys around the league like Amir. There are very few with the skill set of a Rudy Gay. I respect your assessment, but Rudy is the best player on the team based on his skill set. Amir Johnson is not the most indispensable guy on the team, in my opinion. You could argue that if you gave Psycho T his minutes, the Raps wouldn’t miss a beat. If you replaced Rudy with say Terrence Ross, the Raps would be a much easier team to defend and beat.

                  Rudy Gay is so divisive that its hard to defend him. Even though my best defence is that the Grizzlies wish they had Rudy Gay last year when they played the Spurs.

                • DDayLewis

                  Because Gasol is one of the best defenders in the NBA. The Grizzlies were second in defensive efficiency last season. Gasol is like 50% of that.

                  And to your point about Gay’s skillset:

                  He’s definitely got more skills than Amir, but it’s like having a bigger set of knives. It doesn’t matter if you have 20 different types of knives if you keep insisting on cutting the chicken with the cheese knife. That’s Gay. He doesn’t use them in an optimal way.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  Gasol is the Grizzlies 3rd option because he’s not their best offensive player. Randolph’s biggest strength is his ability to score, and he’s good at it, so it makes sense for him to be the first option. Gasol is a great passer and defensive player.

                  I think too many people mistake a player’s scoring average for how good he is. I remember people going on and on about how Bargnani was obviously a very good player because he scored 20 ppg. If you don’t know who Tony Campbell is, I suggest looking him up….
                  http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/c/campbto01.html

                • Louvens Remy

                  Tony Campbell was by far the best player on the Wolves from 89-92. Hahaha, but I get your point though. I am no way suggesting PPG as a determining factor on who your best player is. I am just literally looking at skills and how the other team has to defend you. On this team, Rudy Gay is the first option for a reason. Because he’s their BEST option at scoring the basketball in a variety of different ways that Amir, Demar, Val and to a lesser extent Lowry can’t. He is the hardest guy to guard on the team because makes the other teams shift their defensive responsibilities to him. Is he as efficient as he should be? No. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t their best player.

                  But if we are talking about the most valuable then we can say that Amir is. But then if you go team by team, the most valuable player on the team isn’t necessarily the best or most skillful.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  You’re suggesting that the best player is also the team’s best scorer. That’s often true but not always. If Jamal Crawford was on the team, he’d be the team’s best scorer. Same for Monta Ellis or even Marcus Thornton. Those guys are very good scorers, but they’re not really good all around players.

                  Gay isn’t just not as efficient as he should be, he was one of the worst at his position. He may be the most difficult player on the Raptors to defend, but apparently a lot of teams did it really well, because his lack of efficiency hurt his team. It was that bad.

                  While Amir isn’t a great scorer, he has the most positive effect on the team for a reason. He’s probably the team’s best defender, he’s a good passer for his position. He moves VERY well without the ball and sets great picks. Read this great article….
                  http://www.sbnation.com/2013/10/4/4737764/amir-johnson-screens-toronto-raptors-nba-analysis

                • Louvens Remy

                  Thanks for the article. I will have a read after dinner. I do agree with you with the assessment on Amir’s worth to the team. In this iteration of the Raptors, I don’t Amir is our “best” player, just the most valuable. But that may have something to do with how I define best. I am just looking at all around skill set and unfortunately Rudy does nothing to corroborate my argument. Thanks again for the discussion…

                • Casey Sherman

                  Rudy’s presence draws double teams and leaves DeRozan with a weaker defender, as evidenced by DeRozan’s increased efficiency with Gay on the floor in their time together last season. You can see it in preseason too–DeRozan is able to break down the other team’s weaker wing defender, and he’s putting up solid production because of it.

                  A other thing with Rudy is the ability to hit the big shot–he has the rep for that, and it’s backed up statistically.

                  Note: I say all this with certainty but I’m not certain, more of a reasoned assessment

                • beaverboi

                  This, my friends, is interesting and well thought arguments! Loving your insight and take on this. If only more RR discussions were like this…..

                • Dr.scooby

                  its time to change your name to ALL CAPS or maybe uncle grumpy pants

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  Both Lowry and Amir help the team win more than DeRozan does. Lowry is a better all around player. He’s a more efficient scorer, a better shooter, a better defender and makes his teammates better than DeRozan does. DeRozan only does one thing well, and that’s score, and he doesn’t do that really all that well. Most of his other skills are either average or below average.

                  As for Amir, he’s obviously not the scorer DeRozen is, but he’s a better all around player and helps the team win more than anyone else one the team. And in the end isn’t that what matters most?

                • RaptorFan

                  We can certainly go back and forth on this…..Amir i wouldn’t argue against because he does do soo many things to help the team win. Lowry?? After the first couple weeks of the season last week i saw nothing special in him. He roamed on defence and left his man WIDE open soooo many times. I think his defence was over-rated and i think his shooting is also over-rated. I don’t think he’s proven that he’s much of a team player either (I will give him credit for doing a wayyyy better job after “the talk” from his teammates and after Rudy came to the team). He’s not a very good point guard and pales in comparison to many *PGs* in this league. Yes, he’s a bulldog at times and i’m rooting for him. BUT to suggest that he is head and shoulders over Demar is a joke to me.
                  TimW – I honestly wouldn’t expect a different point of view from you, considering how low you ranked Demar on the SG list that you did a couple months back. I’m just being honest!

                • DDayLewis

                  “I saw…”, “I think…”, “I don’t think…”

                  Not a great basis for debate.

                • ItsAboutFun


                  “I saw…”, “I think…”, “I don’t think…”

                  Not a great basis for debate.

                  Yet you express the same things, so what’s you’re point?

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  I’m not a big fan of Lowry in the least, and agree with most of what you said about him, but he at least has fewer flaws in his game than DeRozan.

                  The thing about DeRozan is that he’s in that no-man’s land for a player. He isn’t good enough of a scorer to be a featured scorer on a contender (he’s not great at creating his own shot) and he doesn’t have the complimentary skills to be a role player (outside shooting, defense, etc). At this point, I see him as being one of those guys who’s scorer on a bad team because that’s really the only place he fits.

                • joe

                  I don’t see where there was suggestion of head and shoulders above. You are mostly right about Lowry, he isn’t very good. But where does that leave DeRozan, who can’t really do anything very well?

                • Raptorsss

                  So, now that Bargnani is gone, Derozan is your designated pinata? I was a big fan of lowry last year before I saw the light. And unless you are hopelessly blind, Derozan has been a much much better player in these two preseason games then Lowry or Amir..

                  Amir struggled mightily against Sullinger and committed too many turnovers in Boston, so they decided to give him the rest of the night off. And he struggled against Pekovic last night and outside the 3-point shot wasn’t a major factor last night. Where as Derozan pretty much shut down Green and Lee in Boston yesterday he shut down Martin and was decent against Shved and has been incredibly efficient with his shots.

                  Outside, of his bad habit of running into traffic and forced to do ill advised desperation passes he has been our best player no question.

                  Lowry, is still struggling on defense and is still struggling with turnovers and drive and kick plays.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  Let’s get off the personal accusations, please.

                  I haven’t written anything about DeRozan since my shooting guard rankings, which were based on last year. And while he’s played well in two preseason games, I’m not going to make any judgements based on such a small, inconsequential sample size. Two preseason games don’t erase four years of NBA work.

                  Not that I’m comparing the two, but I remember the exact same arguments about Bargnani. Every season, people would claim what he did in the past wouldn’t matter. It does. It doesn’t always foretell what will happen in the future, but history certainly gives a better indication of future performance more than anything else.

                • DDayLewis

                  Lowry’s turnover rate (as in % of possessions that end in a turnover) is right around league average. He’s also a fantastic defender, as evidenced by his excellent adjusted +/- numbers for defense, and the fact that he leads guards in charges taken per game and defensive rebounding percentage.

                  http://www.hoopdata.com/advancedstats.aspx?team=%25&type=pg&posi=PG&yr=2013&gp=30&mins=10

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  I would completely disagree about Lowry’s defense. He certainly has the ABILITY to be a good defender, but he’s not one consistently because he gambles way too much and doesn’t give a consistent effort on that end.

                • DDayLewis

                  So…all the evidence is wrong?

                  Sure he gambles sometimes, but that’s only looking at cost. The revenue is that he gambles successfully quite often which makes him an overall plus.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  I’ve yet to see defensive stats that aren’t flawed in some way when trying to gauge how good a defender a player is. There are just too many variables. From watching Lowry, I have come to the conclusion that he is a defensive liability far too much to be considered a fantastic defender. I wouldn’t even be comfortable saying he’s a good one. Not consistently, anyway. He’s not bad, by any means, but I would never argue that defense was one of his strengths.

                • DDayLewis

                  What about the fact that he’s rated highly across many different stats? xRAPM (a plus minus stat) likes him, defensive win shares likes him, defensive efficiency likes him, he rebounds very well, he blocks well, he takes charges, and he’s in the top 15% of the NBA in points allowed per possession. It’s possible that he’s somehow fooling all these different measures, which all invariably measure something different, but that’s HIGHLY unlikely.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  Plus-minus stats are really only an indication of the drop-off in talent in the position behind you. Calderon was NOT a good defensive player and after he left, the drop-off in talent was horrendous.

                  As I said, defensive stats are simply too flawed (again, the ones we have access to). It’s not a matter of “fooling” the stats. It’s a matter of none of them being an accurate measurement of a player’s defensive ability.

                • DDayLewis

                  xRAPM is much more complicated than simple plus minus.

                • DDayLewis

                  And it’s more that ALL of them corroborates the claim that he is at minimum a good defender. They can all be individually flawed, but the simple fact that they all agree points to the claim being true.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  And he gambles a lot that puts him, and his team, out of position way too much. Last year, he had 1.4 steals per game, but he gambled way more than 1.4 times a game. WAY more.

                • DDayLewis

                  Okay, here’s where I get off the boat. We can’t debate this if it’s just you saying “he gambles a lot” and me coming back with “no he doesn’t”.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  This is true. While you know I’m a big stats guy, not everything can be backed up by stats (at least ones that we have access to). If you have time, go back and watch him during a game last year. He’ll gamble, turn his back, and just do some fundamentally bad things on defense way too much.

                • ItsAboutFun

                  I don’t agree with your bent often, but you’re spot on with Lowry’s gambling way too much. I’d even go as far as to say he also screws up team transition defense a lot by chasing down rebounds. Some are impressed with his rebounding numbers, but almost every time he doesn’t get it, which is more than he does, he messes up everybody else in transition.

      • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

        Let’s steer clear of these discussions about posters. All it does is get personal. Talk about basketball and your opinions of basketball. Not your opinions of others on the site. It never leads anywhere good.

        • truuth

          it’s a troll you idiot.

      • NyAlesund

        DeMarr is a decent player, clearly overpaid unable to play on D. Three years and the issue are the same. And the Rapts continuing to make the same mistake.

        If I had a chance to trade him I would have done immediatelly even for a first round pick………and expiring contract.

    • DDayLewis

      He’s showing development in these preseason games, but where else has he really shown improvement? He still has plenty of holes in his game. Is he a good defender? Nope. Can he shoot the three? Nope. Is he a good passer? Nope.

      Now those are his weaknesses. Demar clearly has some strengths. He’s athletic, he’s great around the rim, he draws fouls and he’s a pretty good midrange shooter. Over the last two games he’s stayed in the paint (see the shot chart above) and he’s showed off some post-moves.

      If I’m missing something about his development, please let me know. I’m always perplexed when people say he’s really developed, when I look at Demar and I see the same player that I’ve seen over the last three seasons.

      • Ghotte

        DD is a much better defender than he is given credit for. His one-on-one defense is not below average and neither is his help or team defense. (I won’t go so far as to say he’s above average though.) Compared to other Shooting guards in the league he’s far from below average.

        Re Passing: He is getting much better at drawing defenses and passing. It was one facet that he made an improvement over last season. Your stats won’t bear this out but looking at the games does imo. Rarely was he “caught out” not being able to pass the ball when help defenders arrived. Unlike the previous year. Expect continued improvement here.

        • DDayLewis

          I’m not just a numbers guy. I watch a lot of games and Derozan isn’t much of a defender. If neither of us brings evidence to this debate, then we’ll just be yelling back and forth and not conceding any ground, but Demar isn’t a good defender, and it’s supported by a lot of statistical evidence, as well as the eye test.

          The passing: I don’t know. I haven’t seen it on a consistent basis. The ball still sticks in his hands on offense.

          • ItsAboutFun

            You want evidence? Watch the team USA intra squad game from this summer. He was so good on defense, that he was being kept on the floor because of it.

            • DDayLewis

              What about when he plays for the Toronto Raptors? He sure doesn’t look very good out there.

              I hate to revert to the stats because it’s lost on so many people, but it’s the only tangible evidence we have. He’s bad by defensive rating, bad by defensive win shares, he’s a negative by adjusted plus minus, etc etc.

              Now he could very well be good despite those numbers. The numbers are not perfect, so it’s very possible, but he doesn’t exactly pass the eye test either. When the eye test agree with the numbers, it’s a good bet that it’s true.

              • Casey Sherman

                “I hate to revert to the stats because it’s lost on so many people”

                Lol check the privilege william

              • Ghotte

                When Bosh was here there were many people on this board who were adamant he was a weak defender. Some felt he was a clear liability. Team USA and their braintrust felt otherwise.

                Guess you can see where this is leading…?

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  We’re talking about Lowry, here, who has never played for USA basketball.

                  And for the record, I was one of the people who defended Bosh’s defense, and felt Raptor fans were underrating it.

            • sleepz

              USA intrasquad accomplishments?
              When DD fgot drafted I remember his first press conference when he said he can be a good defender in this league right away.
              We’re still waiting.

              • ItsAboutFun

                Willie asked for evidence to counter “Derozan isn’t much of a defender”. Well, I’m talking about basically current activity, as in how he did this summer against the young elite in the league, to say nothing about how he’s not looking shabby this preseason either, but you want to talk about an 18 year old said at 5 year old press conference. Some people just get stuck…

                • sleepz

                  My point was he claimed he could defend right away and so far during his career he hasn’t shown that. I don’t think that is unfair to say.

      • FLUXLAND

        He plays “hard”, he’s “super athletic” and watches highlights of himself on NYE…that’s “development”, no?

        • DDayLewis

          Is this sarcasm? This is sarcasm, right?

  • Rick d

    Then at other points your saying have demar come off the bench. You are dilusional man. Who’s gonna replace him Ross? What you should be doing is talking about ross game and the lack luster. He’s all over the place. Anyway this article is stupid. Sry man.

    • DDayLewis

      It’s a suggestion. I don’t mean only that he should only get 20 minutes per game. I just mean that the starting lineup has enough scoring and Demar’s scoring ability could be maximized if he played with the bench unit at times.

      • kameko

        Its worth giving a shot, but the flipside being both rudy and demar will be neutralized playing on their own.

        • DDayLewis

          They’ve both been the ball-dominant wing scorer on their own before. It’ll be nothing new for those two.

          • Casey Sherman

            Irrelevant. They are better together.

  • plk

    “Our bench is a collection of tools”. This statement can be read in many ways…

    • DDayLewis

      Especially with Tyler Hansbrough in the mix

      • beaverboi

        Not a fan of his, I take it?

  • Rick d

    Let’s go raps. Defense. Next time

  • Casey Sherman

    I’m sure DC will fix the defense, that’s like all he cares about. But yeah, it’s tough watching this bench squad (especially my dude Buycks, lil guy looks rattled out there). Last game the starters crushed the Celtics and the bench played even; this game, the starters played even and the bench got crushed. I really hope Casey plays Stone/Morais/Wright though, cause these guys have something to play for. Considering what you wrote, it seems like Morais is the most needed player of those three cause he’s a shot creator–I just haven’t been that impressed with him thus far.

    • GoingBig

      Coach and players looked hard at the turnover problem – and made progress last night. Defence will be under the microscope through film and at the next practice. I think all were hurt and puzzled by the defence lapse – it stung.
      I’m liking the 2nd unit shot-creator idea (with the DD suggeston). I had expected Hansborough to provide energy for the 2nd unit to make it “hold the fort” but hadn’t realized it needed more of a scoring punch. I still have not given up on DJ Augustin to make the offence work. Very reliable over the last few years as 2nd guard.
      If Buycks is not providing offensive leadership, they might take a REAL look at Julyan Stone – taller and maybe Ujiri saw something in Denver

      • Casey Sherman

        I like Stone too, that height man that height. And if the matchup is such that his height will be a disadvantage (I’m assuming his mobility is good for his height but not great for a PG), we can just play the quicker Buycks or *spit* Augustin. I think Buycks will be able to turn it around come opening tip, but he might not, and even if he does DC might not play him. But anyway.

        With regard to the shot creation/scoring punch problem, there’s the perennial elephant in the room….. Terrence Ross. In theory, he could be the focal point of a bench offense. In theory….

        • Ghotte

          I like Ross’ potential but the “eye test” shows he has no idea what he’s doing out there other than on occasion. Currently a liability on defense and on offense regardless whether his shooting stroke looks sweet.

          • Casey Sherman

            It doesn’t even look sweet at times… he put up air on one three and then hit the side of the backboard the next time. I am by no means losing faith in him, he’s just definitely a wild card atm

  • mike, prague

    DD travelled on in gif …

    • DDayLewis

      He keeps his right foot planted the whole time. I think it was a legal play.

      • mike, prague

        between the 55th and 54th second he does a mini hop … almost invisible but a hop and therefore a travel IMO

  • Ian Reynolds

    What a coincidence. I was thinking of the Inferno just yesterday when coming into the city.

    Aside from that… I keep reading about Landry’s “Improved Shot” but it looks incredibly ugly. Just bad. I badly want him to be the 3-D guy this year but I don’t even want him shooting at this point.

    • DDayLewis

      I’ve always been very high on Landry Fields but after seeing him shoot today, I have some serious doubts about his jumpshot. I wish I had taken some video footage of his form. He cocks out both elbows really high and then he pushes the ball towards the hoop with both hands. He was even struggling in shootaround (if that counts for anything).

  • mike, prague

    Next game is against Bargs!!! How could you forget that??? I have it on my calendar circled in red!!!

    • Ghotte

      Actually, watching the 1st half of the Knicks/Celtics game last night, Bargs didn’t look too out of place. He’s still lazy and has no team defensive smarts but he’s going to make the Knicks dangerous if he comes to play regularly. That’s 2 seven footers and Melo in the frontcourt.

      • Nilanka15

        We all know Bargnani can score (sometimes). But good teams will find a way to abuse him on the defensive end, especially come playoff time.

        With the Knicks thinking of themselves as contenders, things have the potential to get ugly in a heartbeat….unless they relegate Bargnani to a Novak-type “specialist” role (but his percentages don’t justify that maneuver).

        I’m just glad he’s someone else’s problem now.

      • http://www.gamervets.com/ M1GO

        Watching Novak shoot 3’s last night made me relieved that we no longer have Bargs on this team. He almost replicated Bargs’ output from their game, but at a fraction of the price.

        Now we just need to ensure Novak sticks to taking 3’s and doesn’t attempt to shoot anything else. There was one play last night where I got a flash of Jason Kapono….

        • DDayLewis

          Was it the one play where he caught the ball inside the arc and missed that 17 footer? It looked so weird.

          • http://www.gamervets.com/ M1GO

            I think it was the one where he caught the ball, dribbled for a bit, and jacked up a midrange. Can’t remember the specifics because I just had “Kapono” buzzing in my head.

            • DDayLewis

              Novak needs to be traded to Memphis. It just makes too much sense. He’ll have Marc Gasol watching his back on defense and that Grizzlies team is a few three point shooters away from being a legitimate contender.

              Novak for two second rounders. Who says no?

              • http://www.gamervets.com/ M1GO

                No, unless you’re a Memphis fan.

                This team is devoid of 3pt shooting unless DeMar magically gains a 3pt shot or Ross develops some confidence and stops bricking consistently. We’re definitely not gonna look at Amir to be a 3pt threat. I thought DJ could provide the 3ball, but he’s just undersized and has been trying too hard to get in the lane in his time here so far. Casey (or his assistants) just need to integrate better plays to space the floor and give him open looks, and not rely on our PGs and shot creators to run isolation sets.

                If the season goes down the drain, Novak is a tradeable asset regardless, especially to teams with playoff aspirations.

                • DDayLewis

                  At this point, I am anticipating the season to be going down the tube. It only takes one injury to Kyle Lowry for this team to crumble.

                • http://www.gamervets.com/ M1GO

                  This being a contract year for Kyle, you better believe he’ll try to play smarter and avoid injury. Let’s hope that the weight loss will help a bit, but you’re right… there are a few factors that the season hinges upon, and one of them is Kyle’s health.

                • Casey Sherman

                  And DeMar’s health. And Rudy’s health. And Amir’s health. And JV’s health. And by the looks of it, Tyler’s health. I love this team and hope they make the playoffs but gahh they’re so vulnerable to collapse from injury. With that said, I think we should hold off judgment as it is just preseason

                • DDayLewis

                  I think we should hold off judgment as it is just preseason

                  words to live by

                • http://www.gamervets.com/ M1GO

                  Hey, you’re the one who stated that a Kyle Lowry injury could potentially make this team crumble in the first place 😛

                • DDayLewis

                  Because a Lowry injury would most likely lead to this team crumbling.

                • Statement

                  Well said, Re: Lowry.

                • WhiteVegas

                  Jesus Christ man, you’re flushing the season down the tube after the 2nd preseason game? In a preseason where our starters all look improved? This is the tank nation negative nancy bullshit that a lot of readers like myself can’t freaking stand. At least give the team a chance to suck in the regular season before you say we should trade away our best/only 3-pt threat for some shitty end of the 2nd round picks.

                • DDayLewis

                  I’m staunchly against tanking. I don’t think this team should tank. Stop creating strawmen, and then being angry at them. You’re driving yourself nuts over nothing.

                • WhiteVegas

                  Also, we’re no more vulnerable than the championship Heat. Lebron injury and their title hopes are gone. Hell, an injury to any of the big 3 significantly reduces their chances of repeating. Who fills in for Lebron, Wade, or Bosh if either of them go down? A borderline NBA player, that’s who. Every single team in the league is one injury away from being significantly worse. That’s what makes it such a ridiculous thing to say “we’re one Lowry injury away from…..” Duh, insert any player crucial to any team in the league for “Lowry” and its applicable. Rose, Durant, Parker, Duncan, George, Hibbert, etc…… Let’s give up the season because we only have one starting worthy PG, freaking ridiculous.

                • http://www.gamervets.com/ M1GO

                  I agree – but the difference is that the Raptors are on the fence about what direction they’re going. Teams like the Heat, Bulls, Nets, Knicks, Spurs, Thunder are going in one direction, regardless of who can play or not. Just because Westbrook is injured won’t stop them from trying to win as many games as possible. Just because Rose was injured last year didn’t stop them from trying to get into the playoffs and advancing.

                  Our situation is different. There really are two ways we can go from here. We can push to get into the playoffs as a 7-8 seed, or we can tank so hard to get Wiggins/Parker/whoever. And Lowry’s injury history isn’t pristine either. God forbid Lowry goes down for the season – then what? Are we positive that an Augustin/Buycks duo plus whoever 10 day we pick up can push us into the playoffs and further? Or will the Raptors need to re-think their strategy and instead tank to get a prospect out of the draft?

                  I hate tanking as much as anyone, but there are situations where it might be best to go that route. The Spurs were forced to tank because of injuries to several of their key players, and they were rewarded with Tim Duncan. If our key players are injured for long stretches, then maybe it’s best that we go that route as well, but we won’t know until it happens.

                • WhiteVegas

                  I totally agree that if some of our key players get hurt and we can’t be competitive this year, then we should aim for a high draft pick. Until somebody get hurts though, why can’t we focus on trying to get into the playoffs?

                  Even for teams like Miami, I’m pretty sure if Lebron and Wade went down for the season they would decide to tank too.

                • http://www.gamervets.com/ M1GO

                  Yeah, we’re not all pro-tanking around here. I for one am hoping that Kyle stays healthy (read my reply below) and that the team can get into the playoffs and competes. But this team will keep its options open in case shit hits the fan… and I think Tim and Masai have this team at a place where they can make moves either way if they need to. Let’s hope ownership is willing to go into tax if we end up doing well and need a key piece though.

                • DDayLewis

                  Who said we should tank? I have always been on the anti-tank train. Man, you are prickly.

                • beaverboi

                  Maybe true, but with some differences. The post was a ‘significant injury’ to Lowry, not season ending. A long-term injury to him could kill the chances for the entire season, however an injury to Lebron would not end Miami’s season. They could still end up an 8 seed without him and roll through the playoffs with him back. Symantics, yes, but the two situations are different. If Toronto has a long losing skid, they are not making the playoffs, where Miami would only be a case of seeding.

                • DDayLewis

                  Man, you’re really trying to pick a fight, huh?

                  My point about Lowry is two-fold:

                  1) He’s kinda injury prone
                  2) There’s a dearth of ball-handling and passing on this team. His backups suck, DD and Gay can handle the ball but they’re not good at passing it (or are reluctant to), and a lot of players on the team thrive on having someone to pass them the ball/set them up (ie: Novak, Amir on pick and rolls).

                  You’re right in that a lot of teams bet their hopes on one or two players. The Raptors are one of those teams.

      • elizabeth

        Since when is being winded being lazy seeing as he was rehabilitating all summer.

  • Statement

    The game last night indicated to me that our bench is crap with a capital “C”, but our starters can hang with a team that would be a sure-fire playoff team in the East.
    IMHO, the starter that can least afford to go down with injury this year is Lowry. I didn’t fully realize how much Colangelo screwed us until watching Fields play last night. I was hopeful that he would improve after the surgery, but it doesn’t appear so.
    That said, and I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but I still feel that Fields would be a better fit with the starting unit, because he can be the 5th option and play good defense. Right now I’m really digging Demar’s game, but he or Rudy need to be on the floor with the bench players.
    I’m even having tough thoughts in that scenario, where will teams just gang up on Demar or Rudy when we are playing with our second unit.

    • Ghotte

      I’m a backer of DD and Fields and the idea of Fields starting doesn’t bother me too much but think this would best work if DD were injured. You’d get better D and rebounding and Field’s bball IQ. Then have Ross come off the bench (otherwise keep him on the practice squad.)

  • SR

    PRE. SEASON.

    Deep breaths.

    Waaaaaaaay to many strong conclusions in these comments after two preseason games.

    This team went 6-1 in the 2012 preseason. It means almost nothing (almost).

  • Rosscoach

    Toronto has a small front court which may pose a problem considering the upper tier of the league that boasts big front lines. I still don’t buy Valuncionas and this “breakout year” unless by breakout you mean solid numbers for a starting NBA Center getting good minutes. I am guessing right around 14pt, 10reb, 1.8blk 52 %fg 75 %ft.

    Personally, I am waiting on the DeRozan trade to start the better defender and 3pt shooter Terrance Ross. Phoenix is looking to unload Center Marcin Gortat and looking for more talent.

    • mike, prague

      The word “potentially” is missing in front of both “better defender” and ” 3pt shooter” … and until that changes it would be premature to split ways with DD

    • Ghotte

      Ross has a ton of potential. Right now? He stinks and is a liability on the court. He can’t guard anyone but can surely foul someone.

      Yes, this will change with experience but, right now, his head is his biggest weakness.

    • 2damkule

      what are you talking about? who is in this ‘upper tier’ boasting ‘big front lines?’ isn’t the current trend moving away from traditional ‘big’ frontlines, and moving to a more ‘small-ball’ oriented approach, with guys who in past years would only ever play SF only sliding over to PF to create match-up problems?

  • DDLewis

    Lowry was probably the biggest disappointment last night. He got outscored by arguably the worst scoring starter PG in the league and couldn’t do anything in transition, despite getting so many opportunities.

    • DDayLewis

      This is super creepy

      • RaptorFan

        Especially since you think Lowry’s the best player on the team…..lol Goofy

        • DDayLewis

          Cool troll job, bro.

  • Rick d

    Like I said your articles are good but you guys gotta drop bashing dd!!!! He’s actually a raptor who wants to play for toronto and works his ass off to get better! Talk about things like Ross shouldn’t be the backup to dd fields should even though he can’t shoot he’s better defender and rebounds. Ross has a lot of maturing to do! Or like dbuycks needs some more pre season playing time. Or this team as a whole needs to find the open man

    • DDayLewis

      I wasn’t bashing Demar! I am skeptical of his game and I have been thoroughly impressed by him over the past two games. I spent 2 paragraphs talking about it!

      Yes the team has many weak spots. Ross is still raw (read: bad), Fields can’t shoot (mentioned), Buycks is getting the minutes he deserves, and the team is not great at the whole passing thing (Demar is one of the culprits here), but Demar affects the Raptors significantly, which is why he gets a lot of attention.

      Anyway, thanks for reading. I’ll try to be more fair and balanced.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      I must say, I’ve never understood why fans take criticism of players personally. I have no personal feelings about any of the Raptors. I think it’s great that DeRozan likes Toronto, that he’s a proud Raptor and that he works really hard to improve his game. But none of that matters when writing about his game. My goal, when writing, is to make the best, most accurate observations and analysis I can. it’s not to make people feel good about being a Raptor fan.

      • Louvens Remy

        It’s not the criticism per se, it’s just that you can sometimes come off as pretty smug. You write really well, its just the tone, in my honest opinion. Sorry about the criticism. I really don’t know anything about you, just my observation.

        • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

          Hey, I don’t mind actual criticism (as opposed to the personal attacks some people claim is criticism). This has nothing to do with me, though. William is a very good, objective writer, but because he criticized DeRozan, he got attacked. And that’s often the case, no matter who is writing. Some people take criticism of Raptor players personally, and I simply don’t understand that.

          Take a look at the reaction from the Bill Simmons/Jalen Rose video on Toronto. I thought it was very fair and Rose even went out of his way to compliment the city. But from the reaction you’d think all they did was bash the city and organization.

          • Louvens Remy

            You are right, I don’t even think William criticized DeRozan. It’s just that some people can’t read. But he did go out of his way to show his last 3 years stats and make a point that it looks like nothing has changed. He may be right in the numbers but if you look at DeRozan from year 1 to now, there is definite improvement.

            I think to improve the post it would be good to show through video what Derozan would have done this time last year compared to what he is doing now. It would probably add a bit more superficial “positivity” to the proceedings. People are always a little more emotional when it comes to their team and tend to defend it a little too blindly, it may help to show a bit more video.

            Just an idea. I’m a video guy so you could ask me to do it and I will gladly join the RR team in any capacity. Put me in coach!

            • DDayLewis

              Methinks it’s time for an in-depth Derozan piece.

              Tim’s right. My point was to show that he’s looked like he’s changed, when previously it didn’t look like he’s changed all that much.

            • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

              I agree there has been some improvement in his game, but very little of that has shown up in the stats. He’s got a post game now, which he didn’t have before. And he’s a more reliable scorer, a better ball handler and better passer, but he’s still weak in those areas.

              I remember doing a glowing piece on Valanciunas (someone I have been high on since before he was drafted) and I made an offhand comment about Jamario Moon also winning Rookie of the Month, and there were a number of commenters who blasted me for this. They ignored all the good things I wrote and focused on the one comment that wasn’t even a criticism.

  • SitnonDfence

    A) the “bench” lineup that played for most of the second half , will never see floor time without one of DD.Gay. Lowry out there with them.
    B) this rag tag group of wannbe’s went up against JJ Barea and Derrick Williams. Hardly a shocker they coouldnt close the gap, when most of them could hardly tie their shoes due to overwhelming excitement of actually being on an NBA court for longer than 3 minutes.
    Relax folks. Its preseason.

  • Rick d

    Rolling to the basket. I seen many times jv was open and didn’t get the touch. Talk about that. Other than that they played alrite defense has to pick up. Thx

    • DDayLewis

      Minnesota was in the bonus at the 7 minute mark in the third. That’s not good defense. Their defense was really bad.

  • johng_3

    Have the Raptors released the TV schedule yet?

  • robertparrish00

    I usually complain about the coaching. But here is a positive. I used to cringe last season whenever ANY raptor shot a 3. With Novak and even Augustine it feels like they might actually make the shot!

    • SR

      But Bargs is a stretch four! He can shoot the 3!

      Har har.

      • beaverboi

        Maybe if they tried playing him at the three…….

  • reed

    How soon before Casey is fired. We have the players at this point we either tank and keep Casey to help with that or we fire him and try and make a push.

  • Raptorsss

    I think you are a little bit too hard on Fields (besides his obvious terrible shooting). I think he is fine as a primary ball handler, his problem is he can’t beat people off the dribble. Why he looked so bad, is because the unit he played with was atrocious. They didn’t know what they were doing except for Hansborough, so Fields didn’t have much options if Ross, Buycks and Novak weren’t moving without the ball.

    Using him as a 3rd point-guard I think is a good idea, considering his high b-ball IQ and his agility. He just needs to get on the same page with the other people on the floor. I’m also giving Casey a mulligan on the coaching last night, Minnesota was the more prepared/polished team and I think that’s on the players instead of the coaching.

    • DDayLewis

      I actually really like Fields. I think he shouldn’t handle the ball because he’s such a great cutter.

  • WhiteVegas

    Our bench is not 5 strong and during the season I expect an 8-9 person rotation, with 3-5 starters in at any given time. That’s normal for most good NBA teams. If Casey ever plays an all 5 bench player lineup during regular season then off with his head.

  • Jay

    you sound like a derozan hater
    his numbers have improved every year his been in league like jay said men lie women lie numbers dont his not vince and his not t mac just accept it.
    Speaking of Vince and Tmac since those two who have we had at the wing thats been better

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      It’s possible to be critical of someone without “hating” them. As I’ve said before, let’s dispense with that sort of talk, please.

      Morris Peterson was better. Anthony Parker was better. DeRozan is a more explosive scorer than either of them were, but if given a choice, I’d take both of them over DeRozan because both were better defenders and were more fundamentally sound players.

      And what “numbers” are you talking about? He’s had a below average Player Efficiency Rating since he entered the league. Those are based on stats. He had a below average True Shooting Percentage in every season since his rookie one. That’s a stat.

      • beaverboi

        Wait…..Did you just say DD is a more explosive scorer than VC???

        • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

          No. More explosive than Parker or Peterson.

      • jay

        Just so were clear are you saying Anthony Parker and Mo Peterson are better then Demar ???

        • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

          While they were Raptors, definitely. Neither one could score like DeRozan, but both were above average defenders, efficient scorers who could spread the floor and hit from three, moved well without the ball and generally made smart decisions. DeRozan is WAY more flashy and explosive, and has more “potential” (although after 4 years, I’m not sure that means nearly as much), but that doesn’t make him better. MAYBE he makes some developmental jumps this year, but at this point, if I’m building a team for one season, I take Parker or Peterson over DeRozan every single time.

          • ItsAboutFun

            “MAYBE he makes some developmental jumps this year…”

            1. does that mean you’re conceding that the “he is what he is” bent was wrong?

            2. It’s less about jumps and far more about continued gradual progression that has been part of every year he’s been in the league. Some have seen and acknowledged that happening, while some get stuck on stats to evaluate a player’s progression.

            ” if I’m building a team for one season, I take……”

            Which is rather irrelevant, since an NBA GM can’t afford to be only looking at one year, ever. Not if he’s doing what he’s paid to do.

    • DDayLewis

      If you think the numbers don’t lie, you probably should see this:

      http://www.raptorsrepublic.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/dd-per-36.jpg