There has been a lot of discussion on here where people have mentioned "success" this season but with completely different definitions.
I'm curious as to what your definition of success is for this year's team. What do you need to see from the Raps to call the season a success?
Since we don't need this being another "tank" thread, I'm breaking down my expectations into 2 categories; Current Roster (assuming no major changes) and Roster Changes (assuming major moves). Since both are currently possible, try to not to debate one set of points with the other. All of us can envision MU taking this team either way, so if you have nothing constructive to say on the roster changes, then stick to the current roster plans then and vice versa please.
1.Defence and Rebounding
We have the players to play good (top 15) defence on a consistent basis. While we do have some liabilities (Novak, Daye) and some growing pains (JV, Ross), we have enough guys and a Coach who hangs his hat on D. Casey should be able to scheme well enough to minimze the damage of the liabilities and speed-up the learning process with the youngsters.
Rebounding should be a team strength (http://www.raptorsrepublic.com/forum...sitive-outlook), but if the team doesn't execute, or plan for it (position on glass vs transition), then we are letting our best strength go to waste. I'd like to see the Raps be Top 5 in Offensive Boards and Top 10 in Total Rebounds.
2. An offensive scheme that makes the best use of our athleticism, develops the post game, and gets to the Free Throw Line
Our current starting unit is built to run. JV and Amir are excellent bigs in transition, and could easily get out ahead of many other bigs. DD and Gay are at their best in transition. Lowry can excel in this aspect too, but he needs to limit his turnovers (he tends to get picked a lot from behind by faster guards). With this unit, having 2 guys release on the rebound, and 2 guys as outlets would still be sufficient to get out in numbers, with weakside outlet acting as the trailer. (Quick example, JV rebounds, Amir and Demar release downcourt, Gay and Lowry on opposite wings for outlets - having 2 decreases chance of turnover on outlet pass. Ball goes to Lowry and Gay becomes the trailer on the play. Amir and DD each drive the blocks, with Lowry taking the middle of the court, Gay trails for open 3 and JV is the back trailer coming straight to the hoop.)
Off-ball movement and screens needs to become the staple of our half-court offence. We can't stand around because we don't have great shooters to stretch the D. Guys should basically be moving at all times, either setting screens, rolling, cutting, multiple screens, curls, backdoor cuts/lobs. Every time a player is standing still on the perimeter (other than perhaps Novak), he is accomplishing next to nothing for the team.
FTA per game is something the Raps should be strong at. Last year the Raps were 14th in FTA on the season (22.3 per game). Top 10 isn't a huge stretch (23 per game) for a team that could have a full season of Rudy Gay, and the additional FTA of Hansbrough (3.7 last year in just 16.9 MPG).
The post game touches for JV has been/is discussed in another thread, but I simply want to say that JV needs some touches. He needs a chance to develop, and you can't do that in practice alone. When JV has good position and is working hard, you have to give him the ball and let him work. Don't just stand and watch though, guys need to be cutting around him to give him options. Learning to pass from the post is just as important as learning to score from the post. He can't learn either by just setting screen and rolls in the high post.
3. "Learn to win"
The Raps has historically been a team that let's opponents back into games (K Hump said as much after the Celtics game). We need to develop a killer instinct. Rudy Gay is supposed to be a closer for us, but really it is more than just Gay hitting a clutch shot. Stopping an opposing run, getting an extra possession in crunch time, and running a good play out of a timeout are all things the Raps need to do. Sometimes, learning how to win is more important than winning itself. Blow-outs (either way) aren't great for a team like this. Sure the extra rest is nice, but this group needs to learn how to handle the pressure, and how to execute with the game in the balance.
This goes back to the Pastaman days for Casey, but accountability is something that this team has long struggled with. If someone isn't performing, regardless of their salary or their perceived role, they need to be held accountable. If Demar starts jacking long two after long two without attacking the rim or posting up, sit him. If JV is playing soft D, sit him. If Steve Novak tries to dribble drive, sit him.
1. Rudy Gay traded for a young player or pick (+ cap savings)
I'm sorry to the Rudy lovers (tempted to write Gay lovers…), but he simply is a bad fit. Too much money for a player who doesn't contribute in enough ways, has reached his peak, and is redundant with Demar. Never liked the trade for him. Flip him to Charlotte for MKG and Gordon (MKG can grow with the team and fits our athleticism. While he can't shoot, he only makes a fraction of Rudy) or to Cleveland for either Bynum/Varajao and Bennett/Thompson.
2. Lowry either resigned or traded
While I'm not 100% sure Lowry is the right PG for the job, either way we can't have his UFA status hanging over the team. If we can't come to an agreement on a contract, ship him out. We have 2 interesting PG prospects in Stone and Buycks and there are veterans available (Houston has Aaron Brooks as their 3rd PG?) league-wide if you are concerned about staying "competitive".