Feb. 18, 2011, 11:49PM
HELLO!!!!!!!!! We're at the All-Star Break with only 26 games left in the Toronto Raptors' season so we've been able to watch over two thirds of the season unfold before our eyes already and it's been a tough year to deal with to say the least. A record of 15-41 and the Injury issues that have plagued this young, rebuilding team have been difficult for fans to have to absorb. Bottom Line -- it's been one of those years -- NO doubt.
Here are Five Quick Points that I just want to make that have at least been a positive during some dark days. Enjoy your weekend and the NBA All Star Weekend!
1. DEMAR DEROZAN: His improvement on a number of fronts has been a real cool story this year. Ball handling, mid-range game, getting to free throw line, movement without the ball, creativity, stamina, poise and composure have all taken another step this year. His work ethic and coachability are very good and the price he has paid putting the work in is evident in his growth. Like what I'm seeing here.
2. ANDREA BARGNANI: Yes, he still needs a lot of work as a defender and rebounder. Yes, he has a tendency to put the blinders on and forget he has four teammates on the floor with him. With that being said, he has made a significant step as an offensive player this year. He is an Outstanding talent. He has improved his low post game, mid-range dribble moves, finishing at the rim off the bounce and overall ability to use counters and pump fakes in his game. He plays the game with such grace and skill for a guy his size it's pretty remarkable. Not many guys his size in the entire league that can do what he does offensively. I'm convinced if you provide better pieces around him that he is a 'solution' player in a winning environment.
3. AMIR JOHNSON: He's battled the whole year with assorted Physical issues and has been resilient and durable. Love the enthusiasm he plays with. Plays the game hard and with passion. He's had his share of issues with foul trouble and when he's able to play extended minutes he can really be a solid force on the glass at both ends. He has improved immensely with his face up game, free throw Shooting and is a very good player to put in your two man games (screen-and-roll, etc.) and he can finish. Is a team guy and is a worker. Excellent attitude. Has another notch or two, in my opinion, that he can get to as a player. Even though he's in his sixth year, he's still very young (doesn't turn 24 til May) so I think he's going to continue to make strides in the right direction.
4. ED DAVIS: He's got a ways to go as far as strength and stamina. He's got a ways to go as far as his free throw shooting and offensive skills being polished, but boy oh boy he can rebound and block shots. He's going to be a good player in Toronto. He has a 'knack' for chasing down loose balls and can change shots at the rim. You can't teach that -- a good base to build from. You rebound and block shots -- there will always be minutes for you. He's going to get them.
5. JAY TRIANO & COACHING STAFF: Nobody wants to endure a 15-41 season to this point and in many corners the head coach comes under criticism when this happens. Never easy dealing with a young team that has battled injuries and adversity. Triano and his staff have stayed consistent, supportive and have challenged their team when needed. His team is prepared and for the most part has played quite hard. Yes, the defence needs to continue to improve. In reality, this team needs to get more talent-- period. I'm not saying there aren't faults here (when you're 26 games under .500, everyone is open to criticism) but in my opinion they've done the best that they can do with this group under the circumstances.