“I have always thought that if you could get defensive minded players that’s more important than offensive minded players because all of the (skills like) shooting and offensive-type principles, you can work on those, you can build on those, but the mentality of a defensive player, a lot of time, it’s ingrained,” Tolzman said. “If you get a guy who is not into playing defense or just doesn’t buy into that, that’s always tough to develop a guy like that to become a defensive player. Whereas, if you draft a guy who is a defensive guy – maybe his shot isn’t perfect or he doesn’t have the best ball handling skills – you can work on that. That is the whole idea of assistant coaches working on player development. Defense might be what gets him on the floor as a rookie because he busts his tail, because he isn’t afraid to mix it up defensively and all that other stuff will come over time and that’s where they develop into better players that way.”
After losing to that veteran Nets team, the Raptors at times showed a loose grasp on their IQ fundamentals. The play of youngsters Ross and Jonas Valanciunas stands out as the most obvious area for improvement, with both making shaky decisions throughout the series or, even worse, no decision at all. Likewise, at times Vasquez could be known to play just a bit too confidently (i.e. recklessly). And the less said about the preponderance of 4-point plays for the Nets in that series the better. The final conclusion: the team needs to just plain sharpen up.
The best player to walk into the gym so far has been Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis and while Raptors President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri has seen Ennis play several times and heaped praise on the young Canadian, he acknowledged they do not expect Ennis to be available when they draft at 20 in the first round. Ujiri also indicated he likes the shooting guards in the first round, however Canadian Nik Stauskas still hasn’t made an appearance in Toronto and he isn’t expected to be available when the Raptors get to pick either. So unless Ujiri can make a deal, and everyone believes they are working hard to get something done to move up despite the team’s strongly worded cautions to the contrary, Toronto will not be drafting a Canadian in the first round. Trading up in any draft is hard to do.
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