Most impressive was Vasquez’s shooting from deep. Not known as a good shooter prior to his arrival in Toronto, Vasquez shot 38% from beyond the arc this season as a Raptor. Just as importantly, he was fearless. Granted, that quality could get frustrating at times — he had a tendency to fall in love with his shot — but for a team not exactly blessed with great shooting, his unswerving confidence was crucial. He was, as Bill Simmons would say, the Raps’ ‘irrational confidence guy’. Vasquez’s value to the team was underlined further in the playoffs, where at times he became the third scoring option after DeRozan and Lowry. With Ross struggling, Casey gave Vasquez heavy minutes with Lowry in the backcourt, with DeRozan shifted down to the 3. Vasquez, as he often did during the regular season, allowed Lowry to play off the ball and take advantage of his catch-and-shoot abilities. Vasquez will be an RFA this summer, and unless some team extends an outrageous offer sheet, Ujiri will surely re-sign the Venezuelan point-guard.
Hayes: It was announced ‘Raptors Day’ on Monday here in Toronto, and you guys just got to the first round. What do you think the city would be like if you ever won a title here? Vasquez: Well, imagine if we get KD, Kevin Durant, 2016. Hayes: That’s your guy, too, right? Vasquez: And he’ll lead us to a championship. Hayes: Are you calling your shot right now, Kevin Durant coming to Toronto? Vasquez: I think he’ll have statues right outside the ACC.
Toronto fans generally don’t need extra motivation to get all riled up, but Vasquez is certainly giving them some. It’s a wonder there aren’t people walking around the city in custom-made Durant Raptors jerseys yet. The timing of this is hilarious for two reasons: 1) One week ago, Durant accepted his MVP award by thanking each of his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates individually, and talking about how much the team meant to him; 2) Vasquez will be a free agent in July, and while he has emphatically and repeatedly stated that he wants to return, there is no guarantee he will be back in Toronto.
A key contributor in the post-Rudy Gay trade turnaround that had the Raptors within a basket of the second round, Greivis Vasquez says he is hoping to be back to Toronto next year as he looks to help build upon what his young squad accomplished last season. The restricted free agent joined TSN 1050 to discuss the high expectations he has for the team moving forward and how he’s comfortable sharing the backcourt with Kyle Lowry.
Consistency in positions of authority is something the Raptors have rarely had, mainly because they haven’t done a whole lot of winning. Casey is one of the main reasons why the philosophies of the team are starting to change for the better. Ujiri couldn’t afford to lose that. The blockbuster trade in December that sent Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings could have been the final nail in the coffin for the season, but not with Casey at the helm. He not only integrated his new assets into his system with relative ease, but he also helped save a floundering 6-12 team by turning them into one of the big surprises around the NBA
We’ve witnessed energy, team play, fancy and attractive basketball, many wins (franchise record of 48) and playoff series. We’ve also witnessed leadership and superb basketball skills and stats from two of the players: DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. The first, DeRozan had been awarded with an all-star appearance, first of his career, and the second one, Lowry, lost his All-Star appearance for a vote, which been given to the Toronto Raptors “exterminator” during the Playoff series (20 pts per game), Joe Johnson of Brooklyn Nets. In my opinion, the true leader of this Raptors team, and the true all-star, is Kyle Lowry. His leadership on and off the floor, his unselfish but also very effective play (21 pts 4.7 ats, 4.7 rebs during playoffs and 18 pts, 7.4 apg and 4.7 rpg during the regular season), his energy on defence and offence made him the “king” of this team, and the true franchise player. We must give credit to DeMar for his performance this season, and for his season by season improvement, but Lowry’s performance this year was critical for this team’s success.
Because of his tremendous season with the Raptors, Lowry is expected to demand a significant raise. While he can be considered one of the top point guards in the league, he doesn’t deserve a max contract of around $16 million a year. A more realistic range for Lowry is in the $9-11 million range. Landing With Lakers Odds: 10 to 1 The Lakers could potentially have a need at the point guard position. Steve Nash confessed the Lakers cant rely on him to be completely healthy and be consistent producer.
I think Gasol could work well with Valanciunas in a starting role, or even coming off of the bench. He can hit mid-range shots, is still a decent defender and on a good day has one of the best post games in the league. The major problem with him is his health, but that can be overlooked since he also adds veteran experience to a team who clearly missed that against Brooklyn.
Likely to the dismay of both City Hall and Toronto’s front office, Raptors fans didn’t waste any time expressing their frustration over the misguided publicity stunt, and in a related article from Monday’s edition of the Toronto Sun entitled ”Raptors Day Declared”, one in particular left a comment that echoed those feelings: ”Don’t get me wrong, I love my Raptors, but this is silly. Wait until they actually win something. I doubt that this was decided upon by actual knowledgeable sports fans, they would see the ”cringe factor” in doing it.” Evident from the many comments posted that express this same general reaction, this fan wasn’t alone in his or her frustration; and going forward, it would be wise for those responsible for these type of Raptors-related events to learn that there’s a fine line between praising a team for a job well done, and an over-publicized photo-op that insults the intelligence of that team’s fanbase.
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