2009 NBA Rookie Portraits

Here we go:

Dwane Casey:

  • Health update: “Everybody’s healthy”
  • Says that meeting Andre Boothe, the 3-time cancer-survivor was a good moment for the team and provided some inspiration
  • PnR coverage from the Minny game was experimental and tested whether the guys could “follow our rules”, and that the coverage during the season would be different due to the in-game adjustments he would make
  • Didn’t see what he wanted to see and points to the second group as the ones who had the defensive breakdown; worked specially with the second unit about that
  • Minny put the Raptors in some unique situations that they haven’t covered yet; says about “80% of the time was spent on defense” in practice
  • “There were a lot of breakdowns with that second unit, and the newness of Steve, the newness of Tyler, the newness of D.J. causes some of that and it’s to be expected”
  • Important to surround Steve Novak with the right type of guys because he can be a “big time weapon”
  • Has no idea what to expect tonight for Bargnani, says fans can do what they want to Bargnani now that he’s an opposition players (sarcastic)
  • Thinks Bargnani will have a good career in New York, wishes him luck except for four times a year
  • Thought that “the trade was a great move for both teams…Andrea needed a fresh start”
  • Asked about last year’s booing of Bargnani, says “fans should cheer our players, and boo opposing players”
  • On Bargnani: “I didn’t get out of him what we were hoping for.  We wanted him to be Dirk-like, and we ran a lot of things for him to be Dirk-like.  I thought the first year he had going a little bit but the injuries kept him from taking big steps”
  • Asked about some fans wanting tanking: “Fans are fans…that hasn’t even crossed my mind, it hasn’t even been discussed in my organization”
  • Asked about what tanking does to a team by same reporter: “It’s the last time I’m going to talk about tanking.  It does nothing because I don’t think about it”
  • On Raptors mascot injury: “Devastating…Sherman Hamilton might be auditioning for that spot”

D.J. Augustin:

  • Has some breakdowns on the pick ‘n rolls against Minny, they worked on that today with the focus on being more aggressive defending the play
  • It’ll take some time for the team to “get together” but he’s confident it’ll happen
  • Defense is still the focus in training camp; little bit of offense worked on (Casey said 80% of practice is defense)
  • Novak is key to spacing and gives space to guys like him and they in-turn look for him on drives
  • They have an offensive set called “open” where it’s basically freestyling

Steve Novak:

  • NYK provides a good chance to see where the Raptors are at this early stage
  • Playing NYK, preseason or not, is a little personal because they’re the “people who traded you”
  • There’s definitely a heightened scrutiny in NY but at the same time he was pleased to see “what a great basketball city” Toronto is on Wednesday (Minny game had big turnout – lots of tickets were donated to charity)
  • Need to clean up the PnR coverages, looked at film and identified issues; breakdowns were due to technique, not lack of effort
  • Thinks the chemistry is going to come for the second unit, which is getting a lot of flak today, and expects first couple preseason games to be a little “messy”
  • Asked about Ron Artest’s comment about him asking a teammate “when we go to Toronto who do we play?”; said that’s just “Ron being Ron, or Meta being Meta, however we’re referring to him now…you just take it with a grain of salt”

DeMar DeRozan:

  • Thought team “did OK” but needs to tighten up on defense, thought they could’ve done a lot better on PnR defense
  • Gives the defensive effort a C- grade overall, lots of room for improvement
  • Wishes Bargnani nothing but luck, says it’ll be definitely be weird to see him on the Knicks, will go out there and make some “Primo jokes”
  • Told the second unit that they’ll be leaned on a lot and that they need to stop teams and score, especially if they want to win a lot of games – wants second unit to play with same intensity as starters
  • Hates to see Andrea Bargnani being boo’d – it can do a lot mentally to a player, again, wishes him the best
  • Agrees that Bargnani was a little misunderstood by the fans because of the style of his game
  • Some reporter asked him what he thinks of fans who want the Raptors to lose for tanking purposes (seriously, this still being asked?) – DeRozan’s response: “I’m tired of losing, so that’s not even an option for me. I have no explanation for that.”
  • The post-ups are him recognizing the opportunity but also the coach designing sets that suit him – wants to take advantage of his size at shooting guard
  • Regarding the mascot injury, says “We got to do it for the Raptor”
  • Regarding the Artest comment, says the same thing as Novak: “Meta..he’s a good friend of mine, he’s cool. That’s just Meta, you can’t read too much into everything he says.”

The Knicks and Bargnani are at the ACC tonight giving a rather pedestrian preseason game a flair of sorts.  Ron Artest’s comments about not knowing who’s on the Raptors add a twist to what is Bargnani’s first return to Toronto.   It’s my hope that the fans don’t boo him because that would be silly, he’s not a villain like Chris Bosh or Vince Carter.  He just happened to be on the lazier side of things and a big reason for that was the way he was cajoled and nurtured by Bryan Colangelo.   Ultimately it’s the player’s fault but the Raptors mismanaged him from day one, all the way from Sam Mitchell, through Jay Triano, and down to Dwane Casey.

As can be noted from the notes above, that shaky PnR defense was the subject of conversation so keep an eye out on how it’s defended against a Knick team with Raymond Felton at the helm and supported by a host of PnR options ranging from Andrea Bargnani, Tyson Chandler, and of course, Carmelo Anthony.  From a personnel point-of-view, the Raptors possess enough mobility at the wing and interior positions for them to have a shot at being a half-decent PnR team.  Augustin spoke about being more aggressive in the PnR which means 1) fighting/anticipating a screen to negate any advantage gained, 2) being able to come out and force the ball-handler away from the paint, 3) switch or rotate quicker.   Obviously, communication is the most important thing here and the early lesson provided by Rubio and Love served as a nice reminder of how things need to tighten up.

Still though, not too worried about this team from a defensive standpoint for the simple reasons that Casey’s strength is defense, he has the freedom to play how he wants to play, and he’s got athletes that seem to understand the importance of defense and most importantly, team leaders like DeRozan appear to have bought into it.  Too optimistic? Please afford me that much in preseason.

Overall, here’s a one-liner of how I feel about the guys:

Quincy Acy: He’ll shoot more threes than you’d like him to but will make up for it by providing enough cover as a third-string PF to make you happy.

D.J. Augustin: Capable of doing the job he’s hired for, which is to effectively backup Lowry by providing up-tempo play, taking care of the ball, drive-and-kicking, and knocking down a nice percentage of his outside looks.

Dwight Buycks: Situational player that will do just about what’s expected of a third-string point guard.

Austin Daye: Not assertive enough to get minutes in Casey’s lineup, and won’t help his case by not making enough outside shots – Novak all the way.

DeMar DeRozan: On course to show good improvement this year, especially with his finishing and shot-selection – I see his elbow/post-up game being used to good effect all year and being a primary driver of the offense, even more so than Rudy Gay

Landry Fields: Jack of all, king of none – his role is tough to define because he does nothing well and there are guys like Chris Wright, Terrence Ross, and even Quincy Acy who must be licking their chops at the prospect of cutting into his minutes.

Rudy Gay: I’m not buying the increased bulk or the impact of the eye surgery.  Much like what was my approach with Bargnani, I feel he is the player that he’ll end up being – a low efficiency scorer  who will show an increase in FT attempts due to Casey forcing him to attack more.

Aaron Gray: Typical bulk center who will do well in the matchups he’s hired for.

Kyle Lowry: Will improve defensively and run the offense more consistently than the year before (career high in assists this year?), but I fear that his three-point shooting will suffer and that being in constant attack-mode will get him injured

Carlos Morais: Will not make team.

Steve Novak: About the only fully predictable entity on this team  - give him a look and he’ll knock it down at a high rate

Terrence Ross:  Total enigma for me.  Lacks confidence on offense and is learning to play defense seriously for the first time – I see struggles in the first half of the season and gradual improvement in the second.

Julyan Stone: Will not make team.

Jonas Valanciunas: Will come close to averaging a double-double and fall just shy in the rebounding department.  He’s no doubt have nights where he’ll get pushed around, but his offense will provide sufficient variety for the Raptors to play enough of an inside-out game to be effective.

Chris Wright: Makes team and becomes a surprising contributor as a versatile small forward.

  • albertan_10

    Remember when fans chanted MVP at Aaron Grey, LOL

  • Amigo

    They have an offensive set called “open” where it’s basically freestyling.
    OMG, again, all over from last year training camp.It was the infamous “random mode” by D Casey. If you are not able to create a style as a Head Coach why you don’t defer to an Assistant Coach does duty ? It’s pathetic to have 3 low IQ PG free to play “open”. Third year of D Casey and he comes up again with that f@ck@!g random/open play

    • Nilanka15

      Having a “freestyle” offense in the arsenal is pretty standard in the NBA (unlike high school or college where it’s common for a set play to be ran every trip up the floor).

    • Hassan Mehmood Khan

      we have nick nurse running the offence not casey

  • Jack

    The “Jack of all Trades” quote is actually supposed to be a huge compliment. The full quote goes “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but often defeats an ace of one.”

    So calling Landry a jack of trades is akin to saying he’s a better overall player than an ace of shooting like Ray Allen or Reggie Miller.

    • ibleedpurple

      Nope.

  • Anon

    These recaps are great, keep it up!

  • Raptorsss

    I think you guys are still being too harsh on fields, I hope that his floater and lay-ups become automatic, but he can be great as a primary ball-handler and defender.

    • Roarque

      Think of the criticism as the wish that Landry can recover his jumper from the rookie season. It’s a process – I’ll only be angry if and when he stops working on his mechanics. We all want Landry Fields to become a starter at SF on the Raptors – I mean why wouldn’t we?

    • Andre

      I somewhat agree with you. I am taking a wait and see approach on fields. I like him as a player, he could be an awesome glue guy. But he has to be able to shoot.

  • WhiteVegas

    I hope you’re right about Rudy getting more FT attempts, as that would inherently increase his offensive efficiency. Also, getting the other team in foul trouble isn’t talked about enough, as it can completely shift the momentum of a game. For that reason, I’m glad we added Hansbrough.

  • Andre

    zarar, please dont take this as an attack on you, but fans pay a lot of money to be in their seats, buy the food, buy the jerseys etc. if they want to boo an underachieving player that appears lazy, then they should. I dont get why the media types constantly bash the fans from booing. Its their money, let them boo.

    Do you actually get to see some of the practice? or is it closed?

    Chris Wright: Your really high on him. What have you seen that makes you believe he is as good as you say he is. Is it his defense? he overall work ethic?

    Quicy Acy: Do you really think acy should be a stretch 4? his shooting isnt any better then mine, I hate the fact that an energy guy like him needs an outside shot. maybe 10 feet, but look at faried? Does he really need to be out there?

    Is it possible that one of the RR dudes kind of go through what Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose says about the raptors in their countdown. I found some of it not true (Derozen and 3pt shooter) and I feel the team may be a little better then they placed them.

    Good work, love the analysis

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

      I find the constant booing that Raptor fans do a little embarrassing, quite frankly. I think it looks worse for the fans and organization than the player they are booing. Still booing Vince Carter after all these years basically shows him and the rest of the NBA that there has been so little to be happy about since he left that it still matters. Basically, it’s highlighting the fact that the team has sucked, which is exactly why Carter and Bosh left.

      To me, completely ignoring them would make FAR more impact. Show them that you’ve gotten over them leaving and moved on. Right now, Raptor fans look like that pathetic girl who makes a scene every time they see her ex-boyfriend even though they’ve broken up for years and he’s now married with children.

      But to each his own.

    • arsenalist

      I have a huge problem booing players on the team for any reason. I get it, it’s cathartic and although it might make you feel better and the people attending the game feel better, it’s negative effects are:

      - Demotivating players, making them even more nervous (booing never motivates anyone to do better)
      - Fans looking like they’re temporal and short-sighted – they’ll cheer him in the next game when he hits two threes in a row, how do you think that looks on the fans?
      - Others, outside players developing a negative perception of the fans and the city

      Booing visiting players like Carter, T-Mac is natural, because they left on bad terms and I get that fans don’t control that. I don’t have a problem with that at all, although a far stronger statement would be to ignore them but I get that that’s hard.

      I saw a ton of Chris Wright in the summer league and thought he could be a valuable guy at the end of the bench. Someone who could bring that defense Casey talks about without asking for shots and willing to do the dirty work at the three/four. I suppose that’s what Acy is for, and like you, I’m not comfortable with him stepping outside at all. I honestly think his jumper is years away. My comment regarding Acy in the article is lamenting his three, not encouraging it. Will see about the Bill/Jalen thing – I’m not sure it’s worth the time because it’s common knowledge they don’t actually watch the Raptors (I mean, why would you if you’re them?).

  • Warning: fan rant

    # 1 thing I am SICK AND TIRED OF in Raps training camp is SHERRI FORD from TSN asking the same question about tanking in EVERY SCRUM she gets in. It’s unprofessional and embarrassing. Seems the only way TSN will ever give a sh** about the Raps is if they get Wiggins, which is NOT happening.

    Some quality basketball reporters working for Canada’s biggest sportscast would go a long way in educating fans and growing the game. Unfortunately TSN would rather spend 5 on-air minutes analyzing the broken nail of 4th line NHL SCRUB than report basketball properly!

    Sorry. Rant is now over, I hope someone else is as put off as I am about this.

    Great job on the analysis, would much rather read this summary than go thru the video on raptors.com

    • cdub

      it really is an absurd question, especially to ask DeMar that question…tabloid reporting at best

  • Pong

    Regarding Rudy’s bulk gain, has it actually been beneficial or detrimental to his game? Haven’t really watched the preseason games, but I heard some good and some bad news. I hope it’s not the same case as Bosh that one year he decided to “bulk up” and ended up becoming sluggish and less effective.

  • youngjames

    One thing that sticks out in my mind about Wednesdays game is two plays by DD going hard the net and finishing (one time it was a dunk) – they were “Carter-esk” as the crowd awed loudly with a gasping acceptance of awesomeness they just witnessed….haven’t seen that in a while with this team. Nice to see DD is setting an expectation with the second unit – shows leadership. I’m glad that was reported, those are the thing I like to read.

  • youngjames

    They will keep Stone – He can play multiple positions and has good defense, NBA ready defense. Plus, Ujiri likes him.

    • DanH

      I hope so. I like Stone. And I dislike Wright’s game.

  • Roarque

    Remember, we’re talking Ron Artest…..I mean it’s Ron….Artest….you know? Really?

    • Matt Devil

      “Iman Shumpert is the best shooting guard in the league.”
      - Ron Artest