FIVE QUICK TORONTO RAPTORS THOUGHTS
How time flies! Starting my 15th year as a broadcaster on Raptors games. It's Media Day at the ACC on Monday and then off to Halifax to watch Training Camp. A few quick thoughts on a Monday morning. Look forward to the season.
1. POINT GUARD: Don't ever count Jose Calderon out. Ask T.J. Ford, Jarrett Jack and Jerryd Bayless, just to name a few. Proud guy and good player. Kyle Lowry will earn his minutes. Good competition and depth at this spot.
2. 1st ROUND PICKS: Andrea-DeMar-Ed-Jonas-Terrence...it's time. The lifeblood of any good organization is the talent level, maturation and development of your first round picks. In the next 12-18 months, all five have to make the steps necessary to be impact players. The future direction of the franchise will be determined by how good they can become.
3. DWANE CASEY: Finally gets a full camp and season with his team. Did a nice job last season and I fully expect that his style/personality will truly take hold this season. Talent level is better. Good enough? Not sure yet. He'll hold guys accountable and demand lots. He'll make a difference and the culture he has/will create will lead to growth in the long run.
4. WING SPOTS (2/3 Positions): Playoff Team? Lots has to go right. The NBA in 2012 is based upon having talented perimeter people. Is this group good enough? Lots of skepticism when it comes to this area. Consistent play/productivity is a must. DeMar DeRozan has to truly arrive. Linas Kleiza has to make shots and look like he did two years ago before he was injured. Landry Fields has to be a steady two-way guy and Terrence Ross has to surprise. Lots to ask? Yes. Has to happen if you're going to compete in this league.
5 SCHEDULE (Atlantic Division): Strength of schedule is a major factor to watch. Toronto has 16 games against four teams (Boston, New York, Brooklyn and Philly) that are supposed to be playoff teams. Not easy. Gotta get one of eight playoff spots. Tougher road getting wins in this division than the other two Eastern divisions. Keep an eye on how the Raptors play in division games. Can't make the playoffs unless they're respectable in these games and win their share.