Ok, we good? Yea, we good...
As it stands right now it would seem we have a pretty solid idea of the roster for the upcoming 2012-2013 NBA Season.
Lowry – 1st Option
Fields – 3rd Option
DeRozan – 3rd Option
Bargnani – 2nd Option
Gray – 5th Option
Calderon – 5th Option
Ross – 1st Option
Kleiza – 1st Option
Davis – 3rd Option
Valanciunas / Johnson – 4th Option
Anderson, Lucas III, Acy
Maybe a slight shuffle still to come, maybe a stunning blockbuster, who knows for sure?
Most sources seem to agree though that at this point, what you see is what you get pretty much.
A future that I believe is not only bright, but brand-able.
What am I talking about specifically?
Raptor basketball. A definitive style that we can hang our hat on. An identity that will win fans, that will win respect, and most importantly, will win games. A lot of games. MEANINGFUL games. Playoff games.
Now, prior to this exact moment, I was never of the opinion that the PG was the team’s (any team’s) most important player. There are so many elite PG’s in history who just never got it done on the big stage. It takes superstar SG’s (ala Jordan) or SF’s (ala Pierce) or even C’s (circa Shaquille O’Neal), but not PG’s. All the point guard needs to do is protect the ball until the team can get the play set for the real star.
My mind has changed.
Where was I so wrong before? Here it is.
Wherever your best position is, build appropriately around it. Don’t build for an ideal position you would like to fill in the future. If that ideal player doesn’t come along in the right timeframe you are stuck with a dysfunctional team, built for a player who isn’t on your roster.
Kyle Lowry just became the best player the Raptors have. Kyle Lowry is a PG. Kyle Lowry addresses some of the main problems with this team as it is built.
Take a look at our roster. What are the strengths of our key players?
Andrea: Offensive problem for the opposition. Size over smaller defenders, quickness over larger defenders. Weakness (on offense)? Ball handling at speed, wastes time “setting up his move”.
Lowry Solution: Lowry can draw defenders easily creating open looks for easy shots and catching bigger defenders already off balance for Andrea to blow by.
DeMar: Slasher, good mid-range (unrushed) shot, good strength and size at SG in the post. Weakness? Ball handling, finishing strong, shooting under pressure.
Lowry Solution: Lowry’s attacking style draws defenders creating open shots and distracted defenders for backdoor cuts / lobs.
Kleiza? Same M.O. Same solution.
Ross? Same M.O. Same solution.
Our team (on offense) struggles with ball control, shot creation and execution.
Lowry can be allowed to dominate the ball in a way that sounds like Jerryd Bayless PG 101, but is so undeniably not the same thing. No disrespect to Bayless, but Kyle is a level above and beyond.
Our best player will dominate the ball. Our peripheral players will not be asked to create, but they will be called upon to execute.
DeMar can hit open 15-18 footers very well, I said OPEN...
Andrea has the best “stroke” on our team and can punish an off balance, slower big by driving to the basket...
Ross appears to be lethal in the open...
Kleiza has seemingly regained his touch...
Amir and Jonas are pick and pop / pick and roll beasts...
Ed Davis is coming around...
Aaron Gray needs a haircut...
This team has its’ best player, at the position they need him to be, at the time they need him.
Do we still need a star (or two)? Yes we do.
But we are built to win. And I haven’t even mentioned how good our defence will be.
Last year’s squad was a top 10 defensive unit and by all accounts we only got better. A full training camp under Casey will pay dividends as well.
Our D will give us a chance to win, every game.
Our offense (28th in the league PPG last year) has gained an identity.
Our offense will come through where past incarnations have failed.
Andrea is best suited to be a scoring big off the bench? Sure, maybe, but as a second option in the starting lineup this is almost the same thing. It’s all about minute management. Who cares if he’s in the starting lineup or comes in 3 minutes later? As long as he plays under 35 min a night and he’s effective, it’s moot.
The Lowry Era is upon us and I see much promise in the direction of this team. A direction I wasn’t sure even existed until very recently. The team isn’t flailing in the darkness. It has a plan. That plan is in motion. The future is approaching.
This future may very well be the defining moment in franchise history, where Toronto Raptor basketball becomes a brand, a style, definitively ours.
These years we are entering may very well be the “golden years” of this franchise. And we can say we were here when it was born.
Let the history books show, I am a Raptor fan, I believe.