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Lewenberg: Raptors' Augustin visits old stomping grounds

Josh Lewenberg
11/7/2013 1:09:09 PM
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CHARLOTTE - With his role on a new team in flux, Raptors' back-up point guard D.J. Augustin is in the middle of a nostalgic week.

Just four games into his Raptors career, Augustin returned to Charlotte - a city in which he played and lived for four years - on Wednesday and will make his first return to Indiana two days later.

"It's different," Augustin said of his emotions, sitting in the visitor's locker room at Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena moments before Wednesday night's game. "It's a different feeling being on this side of the locker room but that's how life is, you have different experiences, you change, [experience] different changes in your career and that's where I'm at now."

"[It's] familiar territory. I lived [in Charlotte] for four years. The team drafted me, gave me a chance in the NBA so it's real special, always to come back is a great feeling."

The sixth year guard signed a one-year deal with Toronto during the summer after spending last season with the Pacers and the four prior as a Bobcat. Charlotte and Indiana are the only NBA homes Augustin had ever known.

Coming off his worst statistical season with the Pacers, Augustin is still trying to find a comfort level in his new home. The back-up point guard has already experienced ups and downs in his short time with the Raptors. After a disappointing preseason, the veteran was given first crack at the gig, spelling Kyle Lowry off the bench, based on his experience over rookie Dwight Buycks and the recently signed Julyan Stone.

Averaging 2.8 points and 1.4 assists, playing just under 12 minutes as reserve in Toronto's first five games, Augustin has shown glimpses of the player he once was in Charlotte. Most concerning, he has been inconsistent, occasionally erratic at the point of attack and has struggled with his jump shot - one of his strengths as a player - shooting just 24 per cent from the field and missing all seven of his three-point attempts.

"[I'm] still trying to get comfortable," Augustin admitted. "We've got a lot of games to go. [I'm] still trying to get comfortable [and] get in a rhythm but once it comes I think we'll all be clicking."

"He's just finding his rhythm," Dwane Casey echoed. "I think he's trying to be a good teammate now, trying to find his teammates and move the ball. I think that may be taking away from his shooting a bit."

"He's done a solid job," his new coach continued. "You always want more but he's done a solid job for what we need."

In the first of his two homecomings, Augustin played just six first half minutes against the Bobcats Wednesday, missing his only field goal but connecting on his three free throw attempts. Searching for answers at the position, Casey opted to go with Stone off the bench in the second half as Augustin watched his new team drop a disappointing and controversial game to his old one.

Drafted ninth overall by Charlotte in 2008, Augustin experienced his greatest personal success on mostly terrible Bobcats teams during his four-year tenure. With the Bobcats, Augustin averaged 10.9 points and 4.4 assists, shooting 37 per cent from long range and starting in 142 of 282 games. He is still trying to get back to that level.

"This is my sixth year in the NBA, I know it's a long season," he acknowledged. "You've got to take care of your body and do the little things to help you play better on the court."

On Friday he will make his first return to Indiana to face the undefeated Pacers, where both he and his team have something to prove.

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