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Views From The 6: Bench Mob Nicknames, The Valanciunas Project and More

Early thoughts on the season so far, as in we're just one game in.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the season, I'll be dropping by with these "Views From The 6" posts with random thoughts on the Raptors and other things, but mostly about this team.

1. Before we start, you should all check out the work Daniel Reynolds -- my co-editor on this site -- has been doing. He was a little late to the Mike Scott party, but did great stuff on the opening night recap, and a follow-up piece about the game. By the way, I had to resort to the Drake reference as a title of this series because I went and solicited ideas for a semi-creative, unused blog post title for this type of post and here's the unhelpful results. You all failed me terribly:

Okay, this was helpful, but I was overwhelmed:

Anyways, onto basketball.

2. I'm getting a little ahead of myself here, but the Raptors could really take advantage of their schedule here. We tackled the schedule in-depth here, but looking at their upcoming slate of games: at Orlando, at Miami, vs. OKC (now without Durant and Westbrook), at Boston, vs. Washington, vs. Philadelphia, vs. Orlando, vs. Chicago, vs. Utah, vs. Memphis. There's a lot of winnable games in there that I'm talking myself into an 8-3 or even 9-2 start. I know, just staring at the schedule and filling in wins and losses isn't how this league works, but I'm keeping expectations high early on and hoping the home heavy schedule and strength of opponents can put us in a good position to start thinking about seeding down the line.

3. About the one game the Raptors have played so far, it's hard to draw any significant conclusions from their win over the Atlanta Hawks. Still, Terrence Ross's defense was a bit concerning, though Kyle Korver is a very tough cover especially in certain sets that the Hawks run. For me, the early season storylines I'll be focusing on when I'm watching the games will be Ross's continued development as a 3-and-D guy, and the Valanciunas year three project.

4. Speaking of the Valanciunas project, the Raptors are putting a lot of emphasis on developing him this year. He put in a lot of work during the offseason to improve his footwork, and how, via Eric Koreen of the National Post, he's being put through very specific drills in practice to improve his rebounding. I'll be interested in tracking his rebounding rate this season. I don't think it's unreasonable for him to average double digits this year. The bar is high for Valanciunas.

5. If he stays healthy, I totally subscribe to the contract year Amir Johnson effect. I'm more curious as to how much money and how many years he will command. Amir is the strange case of a player who is still relatively young, but will have played ten seasons in the league by the end of this year. But the years are a little deceiving, as Amir didn't start averaging over 20 minutes a game until his sixth season in the league, and last year was the first time he averaged over 30 minutes per game in a season. So, if he avoids a major injury this year, I'm thinking $12 million per year is a decent starting point, considering the escalation of the salary cap, and the current going rate for bigs.

6. The bench needs a nickname. We tackled individual nicknames yesterday, but via Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun, the Raptors bench want you to help them come up with a nickname. I really hope they don't end up with something lame that sticks. I don't trust players and their choices of nicknames in general.

7. That's all for this week. Until next time, I'll leave you with this, Happy Halloween:

Making my appearance in the new "The Shinning" film.. How's my stare? #StanleyKubrick #Evil #Twinning

A photo posted by Patrick Patterson (@pdpatt) on