It’s no secret that NBA Media Day is the most optimistic day of the basketball calendar. Everybody lost weight, everybody is ready to learn, everybody added something to their game, everyone is well-rested, everyone is ready to go.
On their media day, the unofficial start of the 2017-18 NBA season, the Raptors were no exception. Every player got his chance to talk, every player was asked similar-ish questions. And while the optimism was sometimes difficult to see through, we did manage to learn a few things about this upcoming Raptors squad — for real.
Here are 13 things to take away from Media Day 2017:
1. It remains unclear who will start for the Raptors at the 3-spot: C.J. Miles or Norman Powell. (My money is on Norm, but it could be matchup dependent.)
2. Kyle Lowry admitted he’d like to be a better leader and communicator. For what it’s worth, he also said he’d love to shoot the ball way better, but good lord, how much better can he be at that?
3. Serge Ibaka lost 10 pounds! (Sadly, appearance at the podium was poorly attended and no one was around the applaud this fact.)
4. DeMar DeRozan is going to use being overlooked, as a player and as a team, for — surprise! — added motivation. And Dwane Casey’s facial reaction as he was being asked about this said it all: he’s ready to come out swinging as the underdog (again).
5. Lucas Nogueira got multiple (I counted six) tattoos on his face. These include the words “self made” and a treble clef.
6. Miles would be my bet as the team’s best locker room guy and great quote machine by the end of the season. He seems to be a very affable, personable guy.
7. Delon Wright spent the summer working out with Norman Powell, and got some guidance from DeRozan, Russell Westbrook, and Dwyane Wade. Whoa.
8. DeRozan is not about to stop with his analogies. To open the 2017-18 season, he compared this iteration of the team with getting a new haircut — it’s a new look, but the person underneath is the same. And you know what, he’s not wrong.
9. OG Anunoby’s return to action (with the 905 for a tune-up or the main squad full-time) has not been confirmed, but it may be sooner than we think. Suddenly November and December were being thrown around as possibilities, and he’s already back to 5-on-5 contact work.
10. The Raptors’ “culture change” is still a vague idea. Dwane Casey talked about making more “zip passes,” and acknowledged the obvious need to generate (and make) more 3s. For more perspective, Jonas Valanciunas added, “Sure, we can change, it’s in our hands.”
11. The Raptors to a man are no fans of Trump — DeRozan likened him to a 12-year-old spending too much time on Twitter; Lowry later downgraded him to a six-year-old.
12. The Raptors need to retire Vince Carter’s number soon — Andy Rautins is wearing it now.
13. President Masai Ujiri, as opaque as ever, does have a clear sense of what he wants from this version of the Raptors: “Our expectation is to win.”