The Toronto Raptors' camp has wrapped up at Brock University and has headed back to the confines of the ACC. Head coach, Sam Mitchell, put the players through a tough camp and it's shown in some of the minor injuries the players have accumulated. Mitchell has been happier though with the team's defensive sets and movement without the ball as the camp's gone on and felt that several of his players have surpassed expectations in terms of level of play.
One of those players may indeed be Charlie Villanueva who put on a show for packed house at Brock for the Raptors' annual intra-squad game. Villanueva put up 20 points, 11 rebounds and dished out 4 assists for his squad and was dominant at times. Villanueva knows however that he's got work to do, especially in taking care of the ball as he comitted a game-high 7 turnovers. Obviously there will be an adjustment period for the rookies but with an assortment of nice passes, dunks and post moves, Villanueva definitely looked the part of a 7th overall pick.
While it is expected that Mike James will start at the point guard position with Jose Calerdon coming off the bench, the battle for the third string role has been intense. Tierre Brown, Robert Pack and Corey Williams have been extremely competitive and will be on full display in the pre-season. Mitchell alluded to the fact that while all 3 have been impressive, their play during the pre-season contests will be the deciding factor on who stays with the club.
The health of Alvin Williams will be akey factor in determining if ANY of the aforementioned three stay however. Williams has been a pleasant surprise so far in camp and while has had limited contact in scrimages, he's very positive he'll be ready to play for the Raptors' season opener against Washington. Getting anything from Williams considering his long rehab voyage, will be huge for the team. Williams could indeed see action in the third string role in pre-season if his rehabilitation continues as planned.
One player who continues to improve in the offseason is Morris Peterson. Last summer Mo Pete spent an extensive time attempting to get quicker and leaner and admitted to doing "too much relaxing" in previous offseasons. It paid off as Peterson played in all 82 of the Raptors' games last season and was their best player defensively. This summer Peterson attempted to get stronger as well. Mo Pete worked on his core strength and took very little time off before attempting to get back into game shape. Peterson's play and leadership along with that of Jalen Rose and Chris Bosh, will go a long way in determining the Raptors' post-season fate.
Speaking of CB4, Bosh has been asked to take on more of a leadership role and it showed in training camp. While only 21, Bosh knows that as perhaps the team's MVP he must also be more vocal in leading this year's squad. Hopefully Bosh can assume the role that Vince Carter never fit into and the results pay off on the court this season.