The Raptors dropped a 101-89 decision to the Timberwolves on Wednesday night to fall to 1-1 in the pre-season, but the real story is that the exhibition campaign is already a quarter of the way done (Thank God).

Since the results and individual games don’t actually matter, I’ll just post some thoughts and observations on each player through two games.
Kyle Lowry – Lowry looks lighter and quicker than he did last season and the benefit is in how crisply he’s turning the corner on screens (offence) and moving on defence. It’s encouraging to see, though I’d still like to see him have a bigger piece of the offensive pie.

DeMar DeRozan – DeMar’s improved three-point shot hasnt been on display yet, but he’s scoring efficiently (30 points on 12/19 shooting) and seems to be more active on D.

Rudy Gay – Gay’s shot hasn’t looked much different but his ability to get to the line Wednesday has kept his efficiency up (28 total points on 18 field goal attempts). Whether it’s a mere early October blip or Gay is actually serious about getting to the line remains to be seen.

Amir Johnson – Standard fare for Amir.

Jonas Valanciunas – He’s commiting some unnecessary fouls and looks gassed at times (is it the extra weight?), but Jonas has been solid on both ends of the court. It’s also quite evident that the offence will run through JV in the post a lot more this season, which is a welcome addition.

D.J. Augustin/Dwight Buycks – I know it’s early in the pre-season and I know one of these guys is a rookie, but yeesh, if this is what we’re going to see from the backup point guards this year, the second unit and the team as a whole is going to struggle. The backup point guard spot looks like a legitimate concern…again.

Terrence Ross – Much like his rookie season, Ross has had an up and down start to his sophomore pre-season. The 22-year-old was solid on both ends of the floor Monday night in Boston but disappointing on both ends Wednesday in Toronto. To his credit, he’s making good on his word to attack the basket more and use his athleticism as a slasher, but he forced a lot of things Wednesday and looked absolutely lost at times defensively.

Landry Fields – Strong defence, good rebounding, plenty of hustle plays and smart offensive movement, but still an offensive liability outside of that movement, with a jumper that looks as wonky as ever. I will say though, I was intrigued by his spell as somewhat of a point-forward in the second half against Minnesota. If Augustin and Buycks continue to struggle, Dwane Casey might actually have to think about it.

Tyler Hansbrough – Through about 42 pre-season minutes as a Raptor, Psycho-T has already lived up to his billing as a feisty power forward who will give you rebounding (especially offensive rebounding), defence and energy off of the bench while drawing plenty of fouls (and handing them out). As long as he continues to know his role, so to speak, on the offensive end, Hansbrough will be of value to the Raptors. He sometimes has the tendency to fall in love with his inconsistent jumper, but we thankfully haven’t seen too much of it yet.

Steve Novak – Novak didn’t play on Monday given that Casey already knows what he is and isn’t, but just minutes into his Raptors career on Wednesday, he already had six points on a couple of splashed three-pointers. Fans are going to fall in love with Novak’s automatic threes (wait ’til he brings out the championship belt!), but the issue is that he doesn’t do much else on either end, and when teams begin to guard him tightly and run him off the three-point line as Rick Adelman’s Wolves did in the second half, his value diminishes. Having said that, whether he’s getting his shot off or not, Novak is stretching opposing defences thin with his mere presence.

Austin Daye – He didn’t look good in 13 minutes on Monday (4 points on 1/5 shooting, 3 rebounds, 4 fouls) and he barely played (2:55) on Wednesday. Unless he makes the most of his next major pre-season opportunity or unless an injury forces him into the rotation, Daye will have to attempt working his way up the depth chart in practice.

Aaron Gray – There’s a reason Gray has played less than 10 minutes so far, and it’s that you probably know exactly what you’re getting from Gray come opening night (if he plays on opening night). He’s going to rebound and get physical with opposing bigs while providing little to no offensive value in his role as the team’s fourth big man. Nothing he does in October changes that.

Quincy Acy – The youngster hasn’t touched the floor yet. There’s been no report of an injury and you figure that he’s a player the coaching staff would want to get a good read on before the regular season, so what gives?

Julyan Stone/Carlos Morais/Chris Wright – The three have combined to play less than eight minutes thus far after DNP-CD’s Monday night, so it will be tough for anyone outside of the team to actually know which of the three, if any, have gained the upper hand in the quest for the 15th and final roster spot.

Extras – One positive has been the movement we’ve seen in the Raptors offence, specifically when the starters are on the floor, whereas last season there was way too much standing around and ball stopping. I wonder how much of the more imaginative offence is due to Nick Nurse’s presence on the coaching staff, as Nurse is known for his impressive playbook.

- If the offensive movement is a positive, the 40 turnovers through two games is an obvious negative, though in fairness 26 of those came in Monday’s opener.

- The only real piece of news we have so far this pre-season is a devastating one at that, as the best mascot in the NBA, THE Raptor, has been sidelined for the year…

Comments (16)

  1. I want to see lowry more aggressive and looking for his shot. So far, he is looking like the calderon clone casey wanted last year. As for the other guys, pretty much the same as always. Demar can score decently but does nothing else. Gay is a rich mans demar. Amir is a hustle guy who might be better suited to be a 3rd big due to his limited offensive skills. The one guy I want to see more of is JV.

    • Huh? I’m not sure what games you’ve been watching, but Gay & DD have been scoring much more efficiently..check the stats and see for yourself. Other than the turnovers (which will be cleaned up), DD has been excellent. You say Gay is a rich man’s version of DD, but I’d argue that Demar has been playing even better than Gay so far. The reason we haven’t really seen them shoot the 3 much is cause they’ve been too busy trying to get to the basket & FT line, which is a good thing. Have you actually been watching the games or are you just re-hashing the same angry crap you spewed last year? I swear some of you raptor fans are so jaded, you fail to see when a player is improved or has clearly worked on a weaker aspect of their game.

  2. Do you think we’ll tank now that the Raptor is hurt?

  3. I watched the game (@AD) and Gay and DD played very well together – who ever said they couldn’t coexist must have Doug Smith type of basketball knowledge. In the first half yesterday they controlled the game whne they played and had leads for the second unit to work with. The second unit look shitty, but not because Augustine (last night anyways – he played fine don’t know what game Joseph was watching) was playing bad, but it’s Fields…He SUCKS!!!!!! I could careless about slashing and hustle plays with ONE basket all night at 6.5 million towards the team cap. For “hustle plays and slashes only” I would pay 1.5 million per – this allows an extra 5 million to spent on a better more effective player. Fields (like last year) is relishing in his over paid contract and new found love w/o barely any concentration on basketball and it shows. This year (again) his head is at home with his new family more then it is on basketball – Just like LInd did two seasons ago with the Jays when he was paid and (surprise surprise found a new love). He got married to some ass, had a new contract worth millions to live the life with , wife got pregnant all within’ 18 months and Lind found himself playing in the minors! His mind was at home on his wife, kid and money.
    Ross SUCKS too – he is exactly why coaches DO NOT evaluate talent as well as a scout. It is the coaches job to coach and motivate – and the Dummy that is Bryan Colangelo lets a nobody coach choose the drafted player – just look how good this is working out. I can’t stop thinking about how dangerous a Drummond/Val front court tandem would have dominate this league.
    And I agree with “ad” Lowry’s play is what he said – playing like Calderon to appease Casey. And Calderon is not who a PG wants to model himself after – how’s Calderon’s pulled hammy (again) out for the Mavs since day two of training camp! Sound familiar Raps fans – only we had to between 9-11 million for that pulled, slowed down, non athletic, no first step hammy.

    • And you know Fields’ head is at home more than on basketball….. how? Nice speculation bud.

      • have you seen his wife???

        my head would be at home too lol

        • No doubt TRUETORONTOFAN, I agree – but as a fan, if he wants to be at home with his ol’ lady, then give back the 6.5 mill so us fans can see another player come here and earn that money and helping us win.

      • Teddy Graham – I am totally speculating, obviously – I don’t know the guy. However with following him through twitter all he ever talks about is his family or God. I never here of him twittering about being in the gym or getting together this off-season with teammates or practicing. On instagram never posts basketball pictures – its pics about (once again) his family and God. In the (Raptors players documentary special), I watched on NBA TV. When it came to Fields time, it was all on him and his G-friends big lavish life – the other players it was about them around the gym, the team and basketball when they are not playing. So by his action, I can only speculate this. So what its speculation he has earned it – and he sucks AND, makes way too much money for what he gives to this team’s make-up for competing and winning.

        • I do agree with you to an extent. It’s just hard to blame a guy who had a child in the off-season for not spending as much time in the gym as a guy with no massive life commitments like that. Then again, Demar had a baby three months earlier and he was pretty much living in the gym all summer so… interpret it as you may. (Although, the first Open Gym did touch on how Demar’s wife is able to understand the hours he was putting in the gym because she’s a ball player herself — and we all know Elaine was no ball player. Well…….)

        • @Cool Jerry – Of course Fields is way overpaid. I think that whole debacle of an attempt to land Nash is pretty well public knowledge – nobody’s expected him to play up to $6.5 mil, so I’m not sure why that’s got you all riled up after the 2nd preseason game.

          But questioning his attitude and work ethic? Have you been following this team at all? It’s also public knowledge (supported by everyone connected to the team) that Fields has a great work ethic, a high basketball IQ, and has spent the ENTIRE SUMMER trying to redevelop his jumper from scratch on account of the severe nerve damage he’s suffered in his shooting arm – so severe he couldn’t even stop his hand from clawing up. But that’s also very public knowledge. We all know about that, right? Right?

          The ONLY question with Fields is whether, physically, he will ever be able to shoot properly again. So far it doesn’t look good.

          His contract is terrible and going to be almost impossible to move if he doesn’t rediscover his shot.

          • Youngjames has no life, all he has to look forward to is basketball, and so he expects all the players to not have lives either. Imagine, someone being a proud father and loving his family.

  4. By looking at the score sheet and at his numbers last year. His mind is clearly elsewhere. Or he sucks (just had this one fluke year in NY). But right now 6.5 millions a year is hilarious.

  5. I agree with “Cool Jerry Creed” that Fields is over-paid and under-achieving (add his contract to the long list of bone-headed moves BC made in his time in T.O.). If it were up to me, I’d move Landry immediately, granted that no one in their right mind would take on a player with his salary/production but ya never know!? If you could dump Fields & Lowry in a package deal, that would be music to my ears! Not sure why everyone is dead-set on shipping Rudy out!? He’s presently the biggest name & best player on the team (I say that with a cringe on my face) because there’s a couple of others on the team who can easily take that title but as it stands, it is what it is. The one-two punch of Derozan & Gay is the best we’ve had in YEARS, not sure why a GM would mess with that (unless a deal, worth taking presents itself). I also have to agree with the ad’s comment that Gay is a rich-man’s Derozan because their numbers are comparable & Demar comes at a fraction of the cost. But I have to disagree with your desire to see Lowry do more on the offensive end. He’s a PG and needs to distribute the ball first and foremost, should there be an opportunity to take an open shot so be it. As I stated in a previous post, he needs to play within some sort of limit not above and beyond his own. Hucking up three pointers while on a fast break is not a high bball IQ play. Nor is it driving in on two or three big men just waiting for you in the paint and “expecting” to get a call. You’re Kyle Lowry not Chris Paul! In closing, I don’t know what to expect from this years team!? But I sure hope they make the playoffs. I don’t care if they lose in the first round! In my eyes, if they make it to the post season then that’s progress and success (for this season at least). Maybe it’s just me? I duno…

    • I agree he’s overpaid and has underachieved. It’s just hard to hear the constant criticism because he’s the type of guy every team would love to have on the roster. Low maintenance, does the little things, good teammate, high basketball IQ… I know you HAVE to consider a player’s contract in professional sports, but in this case, I think we have to try not to. The GM who signed him to the contract is gone. As you said, pretty much no one will take on his contract (without giving back another terrible one, which none of us want). And he can really provide something for this team if he plays within himself and knows his role.

      He’s always going to get judged by the amount of money he makes, but as is the case with all overpaid players… he didn’t sign himself to that contract. That’s on BC. And, for the record, he didn’t even have your typical final contract year for overpaid players — overachieve in their final year to get the huge contract, then relax/slack off. He had a pretty brutal final contract year, and BC made the decision to hand him that money. And obviously, his injury problems last year played largely into his ineffectiveness last year. This has led to some pretty irrational hate. I would expect a much better season from Landry this year. As Joe said above, we may even need to entertain the notion of running some of our offensive sets through him when the second unit comes in — because I honestly trust his passing/decision making more than DJ and Dwight, judging from what we’ve seen so far.

  6. Youngjames doesn’t like Landry Fields because he had a baby and talked about it on social media. Doug Smith may have the best blog, but it sure beats reading a comment from dumbjames!

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