As most Raptor fans' know, Eric Williams wasn't himself last season. In looking at an inexperienced young Raptor team it's obvious too why it's so important to get Williams back to his level of play with the Celtics and Nets prior to joining the Raptors. Williams' could provide the defensive presence the Raptors' sorely need along with some much needed low post scoring, rebounding and toughness. Perhaps the traits that will be most needed from Williams however will be his leadership skills and locker room abilities. Williams was the glue to the Boston Celtics locker room from a few seasons back and that same "glue" would be a huge asset to a team with so many new faces that has just come off such a tumultuous season.
One player expected to help steady the ship is new point guard Jose Calderon. So far reports out of training camp have indicated that Calderon has fit in nicely with the team and coach Sam Mitchell has expressed his pleasure with how quickly Calderon's picked up his sets. Calderon is letting his game do the talking and hopefully continues his seamless adjustment.
His competition for the starting point guard spot, newly acquired Mike James, seems to be settling in nicely as well and stated that you just need to be a bit "like a chameleon" in this league, ready to pick up and blend into a new environment at any time.
Always one to "stick out" in his environment, Jalen Rose was asked about the NBA's proposed new dress code and stated that he may have to "patent his style." The dress code has come under fire from some players in the league such as Allen Iverson. The Raptors's Matt Bonner however thinks the code is a good idea and is hoping that the NBA will have "dress-down days on Friday where you can wear your sweatsuits and sneakers."
Bonner also spoke to the Toronto Media about his newfound financial status but maintained that he wouldn't "sell-out" and would continue walking to games rather then purchasing a vehicle. He also mentioned attending some Leaf games which will undoubtedly push his status as fan favourite through the roof.
The Raptors 3 and a half hour practices in training camp have so far taken their tole on the Raptors' rookies. Some of the other Raptors' have been held out of contact drills out of injury precaution however none are considered major issues. Alvin Williams is the one exception to this as the Raptors' continue to bring him along slowly in hopes of him contributing to the team in some fashion this season. The fact that Alvin is even practicing and doing drills is inspirational in itself.
Finally in this edition of media watch, it seems like some of the local media is softening on Rob Babcock and even giving him some credit at last. Much has been made of Babcock's inefficiencies as the General Manager of the team however now some of his critics are admitting that Babcock's recent moves do seem to indicate that he has a plan. Furthermore if the Raptors' young players develop quicker then expected perhaps this goodwill will even extend itself to our good friends at ESPN!
As an aside, some of you have been asking about the final edition of the Hoffa series and it IS coming. With so much going on in Raptorland it's just been put on the backburner a bit but will be coming shortly to a Raptorshq website near you.