Monday came and went with yet another eventful media day for the Toronto Raptors -- though this year was a little different. As our very own Adam Francis pointed out yesterday, the big news came before the media day event even started.
With the news of the All-Star game heading to Toronto and Drake becoming the new international ambassador - whatever that means - being front and center, media day itself almost seemed like a secondary event.
As is usually the case, the day was largely slow in terms of meaningful breaking news or important discourse. However it was an opportunity to get to know the new players and get reacquainted with the ones that we haven't seen in a while.
Our pal Kinnon has a larger piece planned for later on this week, in addition to a number of video interviews we will be rolling out on our YouTube page. But for the time being, here are a few standalone observations from the day:
- I was extremely impressed with Kyle Lowry. Physically he appears to be in the best shape of his career. He was also engaging and thoughtful with the media, which was something that happened only a few times last season. To me, Lowry is the key for the Raptors this season and if he is as motivated as he appears to be, he could be in for a huge year.
- Of all the players that appeared in front of the media Monday, DeMar DeRozan seemed the most excited for the upcoming season. Along with Amir Johnson, DeRozan is Toronto's longest standing player and seems legitimately ready for a competitive season. When asked about his three-point shooting he admitted that he has been working tirelessly on that shot and he expects to see some much-needed improvements in that area this season.
- New Raptor guard Dwight Buycks appears to be cut from the same clothe as former Raptor Alan Anderson - that is a hard working level headed guy that has earned his way to the NBA in a non-conventional way. Buycks spoke a lot about staying humble, keeping his head down and working hard as the reasons for his promotion to the NBA. Given his mentality, he should be a perfect fit for coach Casey's system.
- Tyler Hansbrough is as intense as advertised.
- The difference between the Jonas Valanciunas we saw at media day last year and the Valanciunas we saw this year was staggering. His comfort level was 100 per cent higher this year and this is something he talked about in a 1 on 1 with us. This can only be a good thing for the young centre as this season he can focus completely on basketball having already adjusted to North America on and off the court.