Training Camp is done and the pre-season games have begun. Some quick Raptors thoughts for a Wednesday.
1. JOHN LUCAS: Solid pickup as a third point. Did a respectable job last year in Chicago. Scoring-minded guard. Not a bit shy about getting his shots up. He plays with good energy. Very aware/alert player with a commanding presence. He'll give the team a lift when he gets his opportunities. Upbeat personality that is a good fit.
2. AARON GRAY: This guy gets it. Plays his role well. Rugged and physical. He's an ideal fifth big and can really help some nights when the matchups are right. He sets terrific screens and will fight on the glass. When I look at the improvement of this team it's nice to have the luxury of a defensive minded rebounding big like this that will do his job in an effective fashion.
3. JONAS VALANCIUNAS: Will debut on Wednesday in Detroit. Love the idea that he plays his first game on the road, away from the hype to get his feet on the ground. It will help him get settled quicker this way. From what I've seen of this young man so far in brief glimpses - he has a chance to be good to very good. I caution - chance. He'll have his ups and downs as a rookie and will struggle many nights. Be patient - if folks are realistic he'll be fun to watch. It won't be instant. Big learning curve but he's willing and in time, quite able.
4. TERRENCE ROSS: Smooth. Got some gitty-up in his game. Like him. Nice shooting stroke and some burst in his game. Plays with poise. Competes hard on both ends. Ready to play major minutes? Probably not, but what I've seen from him in past week at camp andin the pre-season game - he's going to grow/mature into a good player. Another guy to be patient with but he's got good raw ability that has to be developed and it will come out in time.
5. FOULS: Lots of them versus Real Madrid. As each game goes on that will get cleaned up. No reason to panic. Guys are still getting into game shape and are a step slow as well in learning the schemes. In addition, the referees are calling it tight, setting the tone early on. This will get cleaned up-I hope so! Can't stand the free throws and long games.