DeMar DeRozan awkwardly hugging it out with Damian Lillard

Raptors coach Dwane Casey wants his players to be a little less friendly | Toronto Star

“Sacramento took us to the woodshed out at their place last time,” he said. “Took our guys out and fed them, and then beat them the next night. “We owe them something coming in here.” The fraternization aspect of the NBA is unique to North American pro sports. There are relatively few players — 15 to a roster is the fewest of any of the big four leagues — and players tend to have known each other since they were teens. They hang out and play pickup games in the summer, they are each other’s best friends and confidantes, best men at weddings, godfathers to children. There is a kinship that runs deep. It is also a matter, in no small way, of age. The Raptors and Kings who hung out that night are relative youngsters, some have yet to develop all of their competitive instincts or truly understand that a “friend” may stand in the way of wins and, who knows, future earnings or success.

Lewenberg: Casey to monitor playing time of DeRozan, Lowry | TSN

The challenge for Casey and the Raptors’ coaching staff will be in managing the rotation, loosening it enough to give the guards a breathier – together or separately – without sacrificing important games. “That’s the hard thing,” Casey acknowledged following Wednesday’s practice. “We’ve got to buy them a few minutes here and there but every possession – not only every game, every quarter [but] every possession – is meaningful.” “When you start looking at scoring, we hit a drought the other night against Golden State right before the fourth quarter but we were just trying to buy minutes for those guys off the floor. It’s a catch-22.” DeRozan is fourth in the league, averaging just over 38 minutes per game, behind only Carmelo Anthony, James Harden and Kevin Durant while Lowry is 14th, logging roughly 36 a night. Amongst NBA duos, only Houston’s pair of Harden and Chandler Parsons as well as Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson play more.

Rebounding is Raptors’ biggest problem right now | Toronto Sun

Toronto ranks just 15th in the NBA in defensive rebound percentage and gives up too many offensive rebounds and points in the paint. Though the defence has been strong for months now, much of the good defensive work gets undone by shoddy work on the boards. “We have to get those rebounds once we do get (defensive) stops. Some of it is DNA, we’re going to keep continuing to drill it, drill it, drill it, but I know rebounding is almost like shooting, some rebounders are born and its natural to have a first reaction the ball,” Casey said. “We’re trying to create that, but it’s hard to do. I don’t want to put it all on the bigs … (but) our guards are doing a good job of rebounding, our bigs have to be quick to the ball, anticipate the ball.” With better rebounding the priority for the players, starting with Friday’s game against Sacramento, Casey said the coaching staff has a priority as well — spelling the team’s stars as much as possible.

Don’t blame Rudy Gay for failed Raptors stint, blame MLSE | Toronto Sun

Colangelo had been left to dangle in the wind, with ownership unwilling to make a call on his future. Having already admirably waited a year on Jonas Valanciunas, of course he was going to pursue a big-name player with the months ticking away on his contract. Why did MLSE allow him to is the big question, given his tenuous future. Simply put, MLSE made a mistake. Not enough thought was given to the impossibility of getting Gay to mesh with DeMar DeRozan, a player who also liked the ball in his hands and had limited range. Or to how adding one of the league’s highest-paid players would impact the team’s financial picture moving forward. Sure, Leiweke wasn’t around to give a sober second thought at the time, but why didn’t anybody else provide it? What was the rush and why was Colangelo given the power to make such an important call when Cope, for one, like a member of the previous board, was far from sold on Colangelo?

Raptors find some divine intervention in John Salmons | National Post

Since Salmons played his first game for Toronto, the Raptors have scored 6.5 more points per 100 possessions than they have allowed when he has been on the floor. Most of that is due to his defensive contributions, as the second unit has been particularly excellent on that end of the floor. The Raptors have allowed just 96.8 points per 100 possessions while Salmons has played, a figure that would be good enough for second overall in the league, behind only Indiana. Yet, his influence extends beyond that. “I think it was the Atlanta game here at home,” coach Dwane Casey said of the Feb. 12 game against the Hawks. “We were struggling offensively. He made a point, saying, ‘Don’t let our offence dictate our defence.’ He was exactly on the money. He just said that out of the blue in the locker room to the players, at halftime. That was a huge statement coming from a player. Usually coaches have to say [that].”

  • Bo4

    Let’s not get carried away with the John Salmons rhetoric here. First of all, he’s way past his prime age-wise. Secondly, he’s making way too much money for his actual performance. Third, he’s the last swing on this particular team, after DeMar, Terrance, Steve, Landry & even Nando! If he’s a part of the regular rotation come playoff time, that’s a bad indication of where we’re at!! …

    • Snizzoop

      Casey loves his vets…I’m sure Salmons will be playing down the stretch, and right through the playoffs.

      • ItsAboutFun

        He loves his vets, not because of age, but because of what they deliver, as in the very good defense that Salmons usually delivers. Added bonus to that is there’s no better way for Ross to get the message that he needs to be consistent on defense. Evidence would suggest it’s working.

      • Hassan Mehmood Khan

        as he should he plays great defense can handle the ball and shoot the open jumper , plus he knows what hes doing and wont make rookie mistakes . I like the stability salmons brings to this team

    • afrocarter

      The last swing? I’m pretty sure he’s been the first swing off the bench since he’s arrived. We’ll see if that changes now that Landry seems to be healthy.

      • Bo4

        You’re right. John is third in MPG at swing, behind DeMar & Terrance. I’m just pointing out that Nando, Steve & Landry have better PERs.

        • Will

          Ok, using PER on players with as few minutes as those guys is like using percentages on guys who don’t shoot. Shooting 1 for 1 does not make you the best shooter.

        • afrocarter

          Doesn’t the PER stat put more of an emphasis on a player’s offensive accomplishments? Salmons is in there for his defense, and as such his PER isn’t necessarily a true measure of his value to the team.

        • Guest

          Well why don;t you watch a Raptors game or two and not say retarded things.

    • Will

      Are you kidding? You would put Novak, Fields, and De Colo ahead of Salmons? I’m not his biggest fan and I think he takes the occasional ill advised shot, but his defense has been tremendous. He can guard multiple positions and can also run the offense in a pinch. I hope Fields can return to that type of player but until he gets his shot back, he’s still limited offensively. Novak, he’s the best shooter on the team but he can’t play defense and he’s too slow to use screens to get open like Ross. He basically camps out on the 3 point line and needs his defender to help off of him to get open. And De Colo? Clearly you just threw his name in there to make your list longer. He’s not even a wing player.

      • Bo4

        Yes, you make many good points. However, the only stat that I can think of that gives a better indication of a player’s performance is the 5 man units on 82games.com. Guess what it tells me. John S. is the second best swing on the winning units, and Terrance isn’t on any of them! Yikes!! Because of age alone, I start John over Terrance. John isn’t going to be in the NBA much longer, & Terrance is going to improve for years to come …

        • Will

          Huh? First you said Salmons shouldn’t even be part of the rotation. Now you’re saying he should be and that Ross should be left out? And Hayes should replace Hansbrough? If that’s what the stats are telling you, you need to stop looking at the stats. There’s a time and place for them but this is clearly not it. Ross is our best wing defender, and Hansbrough gives you the intangables that stats just don’t tally. Sports is not computer programming. Stats can sometimes help explain what happened, but to use them as the basis for future decisions is not the best idea.

          • Bo4

            Right. You had me convinced until you attacked stats. The alternative is to blindly accept someone else’s subjective opinions, which I often find unacceptable. There is way too much hype stating this or that about a player out there. What exactly is the best way to base future decisions on, then? I don’t see anyone coming up with better ideas, except the infamous ‘eyeball’ test … which I use but do not rely on.

            • Will

              I’m not against stats. I just think they need to be used in the right context. It’s like my example above about shooting. If you shoot 1 for 1, it doesn’t mean you’re the best shooter. It just means you haven’t shot enough for averages to kick in. In my opinion, stats usually reinforce what you already know and if they don’t, there’s probably an explanation. A coach or GM is not going to make a decision that goes against what they believe just because a stat suggests otherwise.

              • Bo4

                And that gets me right back to, “How does one already know that player A should be given the minutes, and player B should not? Why does a coach or GM believe this about one player, and that about another player?” I believe that allot of mistakes have been made by head coaches and GMs over the years because certain stats have been ignored while certain beliefs and so-called knowledge has been adhered to beyond their best before dates. But that’s just me. Getting objective on purpose.

                • Will

                  Frankly, that’s what a coach is paid to do. He observes them during practice, when everyone gets playing time, and makes his decisions based on what he sees. If coaching was as simple as applying strategies that stats suggest, you wouldn’t need coaches. Not all coaches are good but the ones that stick around usually are. I’m curious for your examples of when coaches and GMs ignore stats. If your rotation above based on 82games.com is one such example, I’m glad they’re ignoring it. If you were the coach, would you seriously leave Ross and Hansbrough out in favour of Fields and Hayes?

                • Bo4

                  No, of course not. I just lament that certain comprehensive stats don’t align with reality. Every head coach and GM should base any actions on what he believes and knows to be true. Otherwise he should be fired. I’m just venting. What is typed about some players is so far from the truth that PER & 5-man winning units on 82games.com tells us that it upsets me. Too many buy everything they read. I do, for instance, think that both Jonas & Terrance should be subs, not starters. And I know that I’m rowing against the current here, but cases can be made for Patrick & (yes) John to be starters, instead. See, you have changed my mind about John!

                • Will

                  You could definitely make a case that JV and Ross shouldn’t be starters. But to that, I would say that they are also our future and will learn the quickest by starting. I’m also fine with them starting because it allows them to control their own destiny. If they play well, they’ll get starters minutes. If they don’t, they get their minutes cut and don’t finish the game.

                • Bo4

                  John & Landry are both on the way out, if anything, while Terrance is the future, so that`s a good decision on your part. Interestingly, although Amir is currently our best big, I can see him becoming the sub next season, just to preserve his body for a longer career and playoff participation. I can see Jonas & Patrick starting in the autumn.

                • moderate_observer

                  Stats will tell you how the game was played but stats do not tell you where most players are going, especially when they are in the league for only 2 years. At least, not the stats that we have now. Stats can help you strategize. Way too many intangibles in basketball, thats why you need scouts and coaches who know players and can see possibilities that stats can’t. What stat can we use to determine a players work ethic, will power , learning capacity and determination? What stat in 2009 would predict that Chris Bosh would be a 36% 3 point shooter this season while tripling his attempts made?

                • Guest

                  Well. You clearly need the stats. People that live and breath basketball all their lives and watch the players for ten hours a day don’t. The fact that you thought Salmons was shit ten looked up some number an changed your mind (to the point where he should be a starter) lets me know you know absolutely nothing about basketball. If you watched him for 1 possession on defense you would know his exact value. Then if you watched the rest of the game, you would ALSO be able to tell he couldn’t handle starters minutes.

                  If you love stats that much follow baseball. Basketball is too complex to accurately represent in numbers.

    • asifyouknow

      Raptors fans kill me with their comments:
      Salmons is an old man and can‘t play, Hayes is just too short and sucks in the middle, Patterson is up and down like a yoyo and of course Vasquez is the worse, lower than a snakes belly point guard in the NBA.

      Yet before they got to Toronto you guys , and I’m being kind here, you sucked, period, end of story, now that you’re winning , well ! This guys are just not good enough.

      Let me give you folks a hint to why you are winning:

      Because you got a bench that is above the average.

      Because Salmons helps you in defense.

      Because Vasquez is a starting point guard backing -up.

      Because Patterson is a good defender and can hit big shots

      Because Hayes (when Casey wants to use him) can you some strong minutes.

      For Gods sake what do you guys want, LeBron, Westbrook, Bosh, Durant as back ups..lol..lol

  • Brian Gerstein

    Having grown up watching the NBA in the 70’s onward, I have seen the level of camaraderie amongst players get to the point where the game has lost a lot of its edge. No doubt the rule changes on hand checking and allowing offences to rule has contributed to the wide open game we see today, where it is impossible to guard someone man on man anymore for the most part. The pendulum has swung too far, just look at how competitive Bird and Magic were with each other, although today Magic would be just like all the other players, Bird is a hardass, and would still be the same.

    • afrocarter

      Here’s hoping the pendulum is beginning to swing back in the other direction; there is a rivalry developing between James and Durant, not to mention growing team rivalries such as Heat/Pacers