Tag Archives: Ed Davis

Summer League Offering Questions for Raptors Brass

Summer league is a time for many things in the life of the NBA.  It offers teams a chance to fill their rosters with young and upcoming players.  It offers older players a chance to earn their way back to the promised land of the NBA or an increased role of their current team.  It also gives first and second round draft choices and opportunity to show their new teams what they can do.

For Bryan Colangelo, Ed Stefanski and Dwane Casey this years summer league offers them a chance to fill the last few roster spots and get a chance to see more from players they didn’t see enough of last season.

This year there ar three key questions Bryan Colangelo intends to answer from observing this years summer league team.

Who is the Raptors 3rd Point Guard?

Ben Uzoh comes into Summer league play as the clear favourite to win the third PG spot. With young Point Guard Tu Holloway no longer on the Raptors roster it is going to take a miracle for Uzoh to lose the job, or a trade.  That being said, he’s done a lot so far to earn the roster spot.

Ben Uzoh has the inside track on a roster spot with the Raptors but needs to show he can run the offense and stay in control.

Uzoh works hard on both ends of the floor and so far in Vegas he is showing he can run the offense with control.  He seems to be becoming more confident at the helm despite a scary looking assist to turnover ratio.

Uzoh is fast and, like newly acquired Kyle Lowry, he is a point guard that can rebound the ball well.  This is a trait that Dwane Casey loves in his point guards.  Uzoh is fast as lightning and certainly knows how to score, but needs to limit the turnovers and continue to show a strong commitment to defense if he is to be effective as the floor general.

Uzoh will likely stick with the Raptors provided they don’t make any moves involving point guards.

Was Terrence Ross a Good Draft Selection? 

Raptor fans, fickle as always, were not immediately impressed with the draft day selection of Terrence Ross.  Fans wanted Harrison Barnes, Austin Rivers, or some other player they had seen on TV prior to the NBA draft in June.

Ross, however is off to a pretty good start in Summer League play averaging 15.3ppg and has been one of the go to guys for this Raptors team.

Obviously three games doesn’t do a whole lot to change the minds of those that didn’t want him, but there is a lot to be impressed with.  He has an absolutely beautiful shot and seems to know how to score in bunches.  This is something the Raptors could use at the shooting guard position as Demar DeRozan has been great driving the ball but has had his fair share of issues shooting the ball.

Ross is also a strong defender and is likely to give opponents fits on the defensive end of the floor. He seems like a Dwane Casey kind of guy.  Casey seems to like what he has seen from Ross at the University of Washington and now in summer league.

“We need scoring…We’re going to need that from Terrence when we begin our veteran training camp. We need scoring punch off the bench… it’s important that he comes in with that scoring mentality.”

The Raptors are hoping that the scoring touch he has shown thus far during the summer will carry over when the season starts.  They need scoring depth off the bench from the wing.  Ross will be counted on to provide it, even though he’s just a rookie.

So far the kid has been impressive and seems destined for heavy minutes.

Ross looks every bit like a player that Raptor fans are going to like a whole lot.  He may not have been the first choice of the Raptors fanbase, but like other picks before him, he may win them over yet.

Is Ed Davis part of the Raptors core? 

Despite what Head and Shoulders has said for years, Ed Davis is getting a second chance to make a first impression with the Raptors this summer.

Ed Davis was considered an absolute steal last year at 13, but struggled at times last year to find consistency.  He played well for a game here or a game there, but wasn’t able to string a number of good games together for an extended period. His minutes were not consistent and seemed to find himself in the Dwane Casey doghouse for parts of the season.

If he is going to make the most of his summer league audition he is going to have to show consistency and toughness.  These are traits Dwane Casey wants in his players and Ed didn’t always show it last year.  As the clear leader of the summer league team, this is his chance to make amends.

Davis is an elite rebounder so the Raptors brass isn’t particularly concerned with that aspect of his game.  They want to see him score.  They will be paying close attention to how Davis performs in the post, how he shoots the ball and whether or not he is able to create second chance points.

Ed is the most experienced player on the Raptors summer league roster and often the offense will revolve around him.  Davis needs to seize the opportunity.

Davis doesn’t have a set role on the Raptors next year.  He has long been rumoured to be on the move as part of a Calderon package and could find himself the odd man out if he does in fact stay.

Davis needs to show the Raptors brass that they need his rebounding skills and that he has developed a strong move to the hoop and an increased ability to work the post.

If Davis doesn’t dominate the Summer league he may find himself on the outside in the battle for minutes at the PF position.

This is a chance for Davis to have some say over his own fate.  So far he is averaging 23 points per game and is showing he can be a bigger part of the Raptors team, if they want him to be.

Uzoh, Ross and Davis all have the opportunity to have some control over their role for the Raptors this coming season. So far, all three are showing signs they belong in Raptor red this fall.

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Kristoffer Pedlar
The Zan Tabak Herald

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Lady Luck not Really a Raptor Fan

On Wednesday night the Raptors, and their fans will be hoping and praying for some lottery luck to help expedite the turnaround of this franchise. Whether it’s a rabbit foot, a troll doll, or a purple horse shoe, fans will be bringing out their lucky charms to help send the Raptors positive energy in the hopes that one of the Raptor ping-pong balls comes out first.   

Though the team has shown glimpses of success and has a great deal of free agent money to spend, The Raptors really lack a clear franchise player. This type of player is available, but not likely if they stay where they are at the number 9 spot. 

Either Anthony Davis or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could turn the Raptors fortune around immediately if the Raptors were to have the opportunity to select them.

The days of Vince and CB4 are gone.  Although there is little reason to doubt that Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan will turn into serviceable players, they likely are not going to become franchise players.

This NBA draft offers a couple of almost sure shot superstars in the opening round in Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.  The Toronto Raptors are currently slated to draft 9th if everything stays the same, but could move up or down depending on what happens around them.

Lady Luck needs to smile on the Raptors at this Wednesday night lottery.  I hate to say it, but it isn’t likely to happen.

Take a look at our draft lottery history. 

The Toronto Raptors have never really had great success in the draft lottery.  Even in their first season they were put in the 6th position by the NBA offices.  Something that had never happened before until Canadian expansion.  True, the Raptors went on to draft eventual rookie of the year Damon Stoudamire, but still, a lottery win could have been exciting and the team missed out on players like Rasheed Wallace, Kevin Garnett and Michael Finley all who went on to have better careers than “Mighty Mouse”.

The Raptors actually won their second ever draft, but because of league rules were forced to draft 2nd.  That turned Allen Iverson into Marcus Camby.  Don’t even mention that Isaiah Thomas missed out on Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Peja Stojakovic.  Luck just wasn’t on their side.

The Raptors have only ben able to draft in the first position once in their history and chose Andrea Bargnani. Six years later, the Raptors are still searching for their franchise player.

The Raptors did eventually strike the number one overall pick in 2006, the same year the NBA ruled that it would no longer allow underclassmen to declare for the NBA draft.  Had high school students been given that opportunity that year, Greg Oden and Kevin Durant would have been very serious possibilities to join the NBA.

Nothing against Andrea, he has turned into a very good player and probably one of the top five players from that draft, but I’d rather have Kevin Durant.  I think everyone in the history of time and space would agree with me as well. We may have actually dodged a bullet with Oden, but still, the universe has seemingly been against us. 

Lady luck just hasn’t got it done for the Raptors.  They’ve had to make the best out of their poor draft position and, for the most part, they have.  Early on the Raptors found diamonds in the rough in Tracy McGrady at number 9 in the 1997 draft, Morris Petersen at number 21 in 2000 and DeMar DeRozan at number 9 in 2009.

They were also able to create their biggest success through a draft day trade that moved Antawn Jamison to the Warriors for Vince Carter.  The rest is, of course, history.

It would seem that Bryan Colangelo, Ed Stefanski and Dwane Casey are going to have to make the best of their current draft position, but you never know.  This could be our year.  This could be the year the Raptors get to draft that highly touted “game changer” that has alluded them since the franchises inception.  I mean it is mathematically possible according to Jay Satur  but it really isn’t all that likely.

Raptor fans are better to hope that some bigger names drop for some inexplicable reason like Peterson, DeMar and Ed Davis did in their draft years. Or the Raptors will have to hope Bryan Colangelo does his homework as he appears to have done with last years surprise Jonas Valanciunas. The pick was widely panned at the time until common sense and the opportunity to see him play changed people’s minds. 

Still, at the end of the day; I’ll cheer for our 12.3% chance of landing one of the top three picks and our 3.5% of winning the whole thing.  It could happen.

I mean it’s already happened twice.

Hopefully this time it will land the franchise player the Toronto Raptors so desperately need.

And if not, well we’re going to have to trust the Raptor brain trust to make a smart move at a lower position.  Something, we know, they have been able to do over the years. 

Happy Draft Lottery Day folks!

***

Kristoffer Pedlar
The Zan Tabak Herald

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Raptors Season a Step in the Right Direction

I’ve taken my time in writing a year-end review for the Raptors.  There are things that have already been said much better than I and at the end of the day I’m not really sure how I even feel about the way this season transpired.

The Raptors were not a great team.  They lost a lot of games.  Hell, they lost twice to the lowly Charlotte Bobcats (quite possibly the worst team in history).  They missed the playoffs again and did not secure a great chance at a top three pick.

Still, I’m a “glass is half full” kind of guy and I still feel the team had enough positive this season to be hopeful for the future.

While we saw problems with the club like the lack of a bona fide star, poor wing play for most of the season and a rash of injuries, we also saw marked improvement in a number of areas.  Our defense was much improved, some unexpected players stepped up to show they belong here and our coaching staff showed that they can strategize with the best in the league.

Overall it was a tough year, but one that has given the fan base reason to beleive next year is going to be better.

Zan for Three

My Captain, My Captain

It was clear early in the year that Dwane Casey was going to be the voice of this team.  He addressed the media at every turn and preached the same philosophies over and over.  He talked about “building a culture”, improving the team defence and to keep working hard.  His mantra “pound the rock” was adopted by each of his players and became a rallying cry throughout the year in the locker room, interviews and on twitter.  In wins and difficult losses his players continued to stick to the plan.

The turnaround in this team is most notable on the defensive side of the ball.  Last year the Raptors ranked near the bottom in all defensive statistics.  This year they finished 9th in points allowed, 8th in Opponents field goal percentage, and 5th in opponents three-point field goal percentage.  They were also significantly improved in their rebounding numbers, soemthing that has plagued them since Charles Oakley left town. 

A nice improvement in a number of defensive areas.  What is also a credit to the coaching staff is that these improvements materialized all with a back court that many thought was too weak on the defensive end.

Who then should be credited with the turnaround?  Look no further than the coach and his staff.

Dwane Casey had a successful first year in charge of the Raptors. His message was simple and consistent and it stuck with his players. He has successfully changed the culture in Toronto.

Casey was able to mask the defensive shortcomings of Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani (two players that everyone thought were hopeless on the defensive end) in his zone defense and turned the Raptors into a tough team to score against.

The effort Casey put forth helped make Bargnani a top-tier player during the first half of the season and helped rejuvenate the career of Jose Calderon.

Casey, for his efforts, has already had his contract extended and bigger and better things should be expected from the team with improvements to the roster.

Had Casey been on a higher profile team he might even be a candidate for coach of the year. His extended contract was a no-brainer and a bigger pay day may be coming if the team keeps heading in the direction it is currently pointed.

In this shortened Raptor season Casey has given Raptor fans a reason to be hopeful for the future.

Jekyll and Hyde

So no one knows on any given night which Andrea Bargnani or which Demar Derozan will show up.  Both had polarizing years, to say the least, and neither player could put it all together for an extended stretch of games.

Early on it looked as though Andrea Bargnani was going to bust loose on the NBA.  He was shooting the ball with confidence, driving the lane, hitting shots and playing with confidence on both ends of the floor.

For the first month and a half of the season all of the Dirk Nowitzki comparisons were beginning to finally make sense.

Then he got injured.

Andrea wasn’t the same player when he returned.  He was hesitant, lost his confidence and could not find his rhythm.  Either the injury was not fully healed or opposing defenses made adjustments.  Either way he wasn’t a dominant player in the second half.

Raptor fans are now left wondering which player was the real Andrea Bargnani and which player is going to show up next year.

While Andrea was having a great start and rough finish, Demar Derozan’s season was almost the complete and utter opposite.

Demar started the season terribly.  By the all-star break he was averaging 40% shooting and averaged 15 points a game.  He was getting to the foul line 5 times a game.  He was sputtering and everyone in the city seemed to be noticing.  Journalists, bloggers, pundits, everyone was questioning whether Demar was going to be a significant part of this teams future.

He looked like a player destined for a career off the bench.

In the second half, he spent a lot less time trying to shoot three-pointers and started focusing on getting to the foul line.  He was able to draw contact and get to the stripe a lot more. In December Derozan averaged little over 2 free throw attempts per game.  Later in the year he averaged as high as 6 attempts per game. A small but significant improvement.

Demar has begun to learn what he does well.  Casey had him attacking the rim consistently in the second half. Although he didn’t always get the call, he kept attacking, kept “pounding the rock”.

By the end of the second half Demar began to look a lot more like the player Raptor fans were expecting when he was drafted out of USC. He was more in control, wasn’t afraid of contact and eased into his role as a number one option.

Now Raptor fans have to hope that ‘First half Andrea’ and ‘Second half Derozan’ are actually who these players really are.

Many question marks may remain, but one thing is certain; the success of this team next year depends on how Andrea and Derozan play. 

Supporting Players

The Raptors may not have a bona fide superstar at the moment.  They may have to steal that star from the draft or in free agency, but what the team does have a plethora of are character players.  Guys that come to the court and leave it all on the floor.  A squad of fighters that any coach would love to have coming off the bench.

Jerryd Bayless showed himself to be a very capable point guard and 2 guard this season and is perfectly suited to a bench role next season, if he stays in town. He can shoot, drive and dish and can potentially cause matchup nightmares for opposing teams.

James Johnson can play many positions as well and does a little bit of everything.  He can block, rebound, defend and occasionally score.  He plays the 3, 4 and occasionally the 5 and has a high basketball IQ when he’s on the floor.  If he has not burned bridges with coach Casey he will be a valuable part of the team next year.

Jose Calderon had one of his best seasons as a professional basketball player in 2011/12.  He distributed the ball with ease averaging 8.6 assists good enough for 4th in the league behind only Rondo, Nash and Chris Paul.  He established himself as a team leader going forward and one that Dwane Casey is not afraid to put full trust in.  He also became a much better defensive player under Casey.  Calderon may just retire here in Toronto and the fans, who have cheered and jeered him over the years, likely have no issue with him staying after the year he has had.

Plus the foul…

The Colangelo Factor

Raptors fans were subtlety reminded of the fact that they have one heck of a GM in Bryan Colangelo. Though his star is not nearly as bright as it once was in Toronto, Colangelo has positioned his team to be a player once again in 2012/13.  The steady GM has cleared capspace for his team and has drafted a number of strong young players to build around.  He’s also got all of his players signed to team friendly contracts meaning that they are very tradeable.

This kind of flexibility has given the Raptor faithful some hope for next year especially with the arrival of highly touted 2011 first round pick Jonas Valanciunas.  Jonas made Colangelo look even better this year by having a stellar year overseas and raising eyebrows with his strong play on both ends of the court in Lithuania.

Colangelo should also be credited with his very clever scouting of the D-league.  He brought over three players (Anderson, Uzoh, Dentmon) and  in the final two months of the season all three played valuable minutes and showed they belong in the league.  That kind of success in finding D-League players is a rarity in this league. Uzoh and Anderson may actually have a shot of sticking with the club next year while Dentmon will garner an invite to someone’s training camp. 

No Raptor player, outside of maybe Bargnani, has been as often criticiszed as Jose Calderon. This season may have helped to prove all the negative voices wrong once and for all.

If that doesn’t prove to people that Colangelo has got some skill as an executive, then hopefully his off-season moves will.

Zan of the Year

Jose Calderon

A tough call, but Calderon was the Raptors most consistent player.  He learned to minimize his weaknesses on the court and played to his strengths.  There isn’t a better veteran point guard than Calderon to be handing the ball out to young players like Ed Davis, Demar Derozan and Amir Johnson.  He protects the ball,  puts it where it needs to go and genuinely seems to care about his teammates.

He is, far and away, my favourite All-time Raptor, but this year he proved his worth on the court too.  Going forward Dwane Casey knows he has a great leader in Calderon.  Someone who will lead when asked and who also isn’t afraid to step aside for a teammate.

A great comeback year for Jose.

Not Zan of the Year

Tank Nation

Yeah, so that philosophy didn’t quite work out did it? The Raptors were playing Solomon Alabi and 3 D-League-ers at the end of the year, but even they couldn’t lose.  The Raptors were a team that over achieved in many ways.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but on draft night when Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Andre Drummund will likely be heading to the Bobcats, Wizards and Cavs the Raptors will be looking on wishing they had lost a couple more games (or played the Bobcats an extra game or two).

Still, a solid season that ended on a high note.  The team has Jonas,  a first round pick , tradeable assets and host of capspace.  This is definitely a team headed in the right direction.

***

Kristoffer Pedlar
The Zan Tabak Herald

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Raptors Finish Season with Reluctant Win

The final game of the season was not played without intrigue.  Both the Raptors and Nets came into the game looking more closely at the bottom of the standings than the top of it.  As the playoffs are still but a dream for the Nets and Raptors, the two teams could be forgiven if they were more focused on draft position than winning their final game.

Both the Raptors and Nets started a team that wasn’t quite the usual talent level.  Most players were former D-League players and emergency additions for injured players.  The Raptors only dressed 7 players six of whom actually saw considerable court time.  The Nets weren’t much better dressing only 8 players.

In the end, the Nets out-tanked the Raptors and took away valuable ping-pong balls in the draft lottery. It’s really hard for “Tank Nation” to fault the Raptors though.  There is probably no team in history that could have lost to the Nets on Thursday night.  They shot 30% from the field and looked like, what my writing partner called, a “turnstile” on defense.

Now it wasn’t all bad for Raptors fans.  Ben Uzoh played the game of his life and came away with his first career triple-double and Solomon Alabi, given a season high 40 minutes, had 11 points and 19 rebounds.  He may or may not ever play again in the NBA but it was a nice “Moonlight Graham Moment” for Alabi.

If nothing else Raptor fans may have gotten a really good look at some players who will be looking for a job in the summer.  Ed Davis, Gary Forbes and Alan Anderson all played significant minutes and showed the Raptors coaches why they should be considered for this team next year.

The better team won the game and hopefully the Raptors have earned themselves a little good karma for the draft lottery coming up.  A top five pick would really help this team moving forward, which is exactly the direction they’re heading.

Zan for Three

Auditions for Next Year

I was one of the few fans at the ACC on Thursday who wasn’t sure who to cheer for.  Did I want to see the Raptors win a game in front of their hometown fans one last time?, or did I want New Jersey to help increase our lottery chances? I was one very conflicted fan on Thursday night.

What I did enjoy was an opportunity to see “the fringe” members of our team.  Players like Ed Davis, Alan Anderson, Ben Uzoh and Solomon Alabi all get big minutes.

Ben Uzoh and the Raptors handed it to the Nets in one of the worst performances I've ever seen from a team. The season is done and lots of questions remain.

Basically it was a Summer League Game, a pre-season workout to get one last look to see if and where these players belong next year.

From my vantage point Alan Anderson and Ben Uzoh have done enough to stick with the club on a more permanent basis.  Uzoh, who had a triple-double, would make a fine 3rd point guard on this team.  He runs the offense well, can obviously do a number of different things and is fast as lightning.

Alan Anderson would be a nice player off the bench to cover a number of different positions and add some defensive energy.

As for Davis and Alabi; they may have been auditioning for other teams.  Alabi doesn’t seem to fit into the Raptors long term plans and Ed Davis may be the odd man out in the battle for minutes at Power Forward, especially with Jonas arriving next year.

No Wins til Brooklyn

What a way to end the Nets era in New Jersey.  A dismal, lazy, sad effort against the Raptors.  This team just could never put it together for the city.  The Nets legacy is one that doesn’t have many highlights.  A finals appearance and a good year out of Vince Carter once and that’s about it.  Derrick Coleman? Yi Jianlian? Mookie Blaylock?  Who will be the most remembered Net? None of them could get the team too far past a quick first round exit.  None will be entered in the hall of fame. Not even the one in our hearts.

Hopefully Brooklyn has better luck with the Nets.  As of now the city of Brooklyn is inheriting a team in disarray.  Especially if, as expected, they are forced to part with Deron Williams.

Hopefully they don’t replace DWill with Yinka Dare. Though you can’t completely rule it out.

A Change is Gonna Come

Fans last night were a little more upbeat than I would have originally thought.  The fans cheered the team on and enjoyed the energetic play from players like Ben Uzoh, Solomon Alabi and Ed Davis.  This certainly wasn’t the team you would have expected to see on the court to close a season if you had predicted it at the beginning of the year.

Yet, there is optimism around this team.

The Raptors have a coach that the players, organization and fans are fully behind.  He has changed the culture here and done some pretty amazing things with a fairly limited roster.

There is quite a bit of money to spend in the offseason and the Raptors have a number of contracts that could be easily moved should they choose to go that route.  They also have one first round pick this year, the position will be decided by our lesser number of ping-pong balls. And our first round pick from last year, Jonas Valanciunas, will finally join the team after a successful year in Lithuania.

There is reason to be hopeful despite the poor record our team had this year.

Change is on its way.  The GM’s job depends on this offseason.  He will be motivated to improve this team in more ways than one.

Plus the Foul…

Free Alabi…

So I’ve been on and on about Freeing Alabi and giving him minutes to find out what exactly he is able to do.  Last night we saw Alabi at the best of times (he went all Acie Earl on the ACC), but it wasn’t enough to support giving him another contract.

He is a hard worker, it sounds like he is a nice guy and he has some skill, but I think the reality is that he is going to be out of the league next year and hopefully can work his way back through strong play on the international stage.

Best of luck to him.

Zan of the Night

Ben Uzoh

If you didn’t know who Ben Uzoh was before last night you likely know him a little better now.  He started for the Raptors and went home with his first triple-double and the teams first since Alvin Williams.

He’s fast, can rebound, take the ball to the hoop and draw contact.  These are great traits in a reserve guard.  I think if he was brought back it would be in a limited role (likely 3rd PG) but I think he’s worth a shot.  It would certainly not be a major concern in my mind if he was handed spot duty next year off the bench.  I think he’s earned a little more time with the big club.

Not Zan of the Night

The New Jersey Nets

Thanks a lot jerks.  Even if the Raptors were trying to tank they still would have beat you.  New Jersey put forth one of the worst efforts I have ever had the misfortune to see.  It was an absolutely awful display of everything.  Hopefully some lottery karma comes back to bite them in the ass for the clear tank job. I mean how do you let Gerald Green shoot the ball that much?  No help from Jersey. Onward to Brooklyn.  Good luck! You’re going to need it.

***

Kristoffer Pedlar
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Raptors Tease Tank Nation in Loss to Bucks

For almost four complete quarters the Toronto Raptors threatened to take control of the game and hand the Milwaukee Bucks insult to injury.  The same night that the Bucks were officially eliminated from the playoffs, they almost let this game slip away against the near bottom-feeding Raptors.

Toronto played without Demar Derozan for most of the game as he was ejected in the 2nd quarter for throwing a ball in protest of a travelling call.  Not the smartest move by Demar and it gave his teammates an added challenge without their best player.

They hung with the Bucks for the entire game until giving it away in the last three minutes.

Still, despite the loss, there were some very positive signs for the team.  The Raptors got strong, strong efforts from James Johnson who had 22 points and 13 rebounds, Gary Forbes who chipped in with 15 points and 5 assists in extended minutes and Ed Davis added 11 rebounds.

Dwane Casey has to be happy with the effort in this game from essentially his bench.

It all ends on Thursday in Toronto against the, soon to be Brooklyn, Nets.

Can’t wait for the playoffs to start, the offseason to begin and the Raptors to begin their retooling for next year.

Zan for Three

Bad News Bears

So, once again, Dwane Casey had this mixed band of misfits competing against a superior talent.  James Johnson, in his return to the starting lineup, chipped in with 22 points and 13 rebounds.  Forbes tossed in 15 points and 5 assists, Davis had 11 rebounds and Uzoh even chipped in with 8 points and 5 assists.

Despite a gritty effort from some of their second tier players, the Raptors couldn't hang on against the Milwuakee Bucks on Monday night.

Not bad from a group of players, most of which, were not expected to be significant contributors this year.

Whatever his magical potion or secret code that has got this team fighting every night, Dwane Casey deserves some kudos.

It’ll be exciting to see what he can do next year with more depth on the roster.

Get out of Here!

Demar Derozan was ejected from the game in the second quarter for arguing with an official over a travelling call and then throwing the basketball the length of the court.  It was a pretty dumb play on Derozan’s part to get that upset over the call.  Though he’s gotta be tired of never getting the benefit of the doubt with the officials.

He gets to the line consistently one game and then hardly at all the next. Seems to have the respect of the officials during one play and then is treated like a rookie on others. Demar is showing he has the ability to draw contact with the best of them, but yet hasn’t earned the respect of the officials. I call it Canadian bias. 

The referees don’t know him well enough.  He hasn’t estblished himself with them enough and thus doesn’t get consistent calls.  Not sure what else he has to do, maybe just give it time.

Sometimes you have to choose your battles, but I have a feeling Derozan was venting his frustrations with the lack of consistency of the officiating this year. The lack of calls has been quite apparent when looking at Derozan’s boxscores this year.

Still, cooler heads should have prevailed and Derozan should have stayed in the game. His presence could have turned the tide for the raptors.

Tank Nation

So it would appear that with Cleveland’s loss tonight the Raptors are still looking at the 5th or 6th most ping-pong balls in the upcoming draft lottery.  That means they could be drafting 5th or 6th or have a chance to move up and draft higher.

Tonight I’m not sure if fans were more happy or upset that the team allowed their double-digit lead to evaporate in the fourth Quarter.  There seems to be a growing desire to lose as many as possible and collect a higher chance to get ping-pong balls. With only one game remaining after this one I guess every loss helps.

In the end, it will still all come down to luck.  I mean remember when Orlando won the lottery twice in a row?

Losing isn’t fun, but when you add an opportunity to get a higher draft pick you can accept the late game collapse.  If your name isn’t Casey, that is.

Plus the Foul

Free Alabi

I’m liking the fact that Dwane Casey is allowing Alabi to get some burn, but it is allowing us all to see that he really isn’t ready for the NBA.  He’s a great guy, he’s got a big body, but has too much that he needs to fix to be a player that is brought back next year.  His time on the court has given us clear evidence that he should not be in the plans for the team next year.

A great guy, but he just isn’t NBA ready.  He may never be.

Zan of the Night

James Johnson

It is nice to see Johnson finishing the year much the way he started it.  He has been one of the most exciting and inspired Raptor players for most of the season.  He gets to the rim, grabs loose balls and plays tough defense.  He will be a very welcome addition to next years team, if of course the rift between he and Casey isn’t too deep to salvage.  Johnson has shown he is a very versatile player and could be very valuable coming off the bench next year to back up a number of different positions.  Tonight he scored, rebounded and got his team involved and was a pest all night for the Bucks on both ends of the floor.

Not Zan of the Night

The Bucks

Despite the win, Milwaukee fell short of their goal of reaching the playoffs.  It was a valiant effort, but in the end they came up just short.  Still with a team that sports Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings as well as Ilyasova they could be dangerous next year.  Still to miss the playoffs on the second last night of the season because you lost control of your own destiny, has gotta sting a little.

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Kristoffer Pedlar
The Zan Tabak Herald

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Filed under Post game, Raptor News

Raptors Run out of Magic Against Hawks

It’s been a great little run the Raptors have been on, but it was bound to end sometime and it made sense that Atlanta came back to exact some revenge on the raps after Toronto surprised them in Atlanta a night ago.

The Raptors looked pretty good for three quarters but simply ran out of gas against a better opponent.

 Still on the positive side it was nice to see Demar Derozan, once again, rise to the challenge of being a number one option and it was great to see Solomon Alabi playing meaningful minutes and contributing in some way.

This is the Raptor squad we were expecting these last few games.  A tough, competitive bunch that finds itself overmatched in most games. Despite the loss, the Raptors battled and had lots of positive to take away. 

Zan for Three

The Terrible Ivan

So Ivan Johnson is a really scary looking dude.  He’s also a huge pain in the butt for defenders under the basket.  Many times on Monday he was able to steal rebounds away from Raptor forwards and turn them into second chances or points.  He intimidates out there and plays the game fiercely.

The Hawks are going to need his toughness as they head into the playoffs without a proven big man.  Horford is out and they’ve also likely lost Zaza Pachulia for their first round matchup.  They are going to need someone strong to take on the likes of Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett in the first round of the playoffs.

Ivan Johnson is their only hope.  He’s as tough as they come but he lacks the height.  Garnett and Bass will take advantage of that, but if Ivan plays with the toughness he did on Monday night he may give the Celtics front court more than they can handle.

James Johnson Back on Course

For a few weeks it seemed like whatever beef Dwane Casey and James Johnson had with each other was going to derail Johnson’s strong start to the season.  He wasn’t getting minutes and when he was he wasn’t very productive. He looked lost and like he no longer belonged in the Raptors plans.

A second strong effort in a row by James Johnson wasn't enough to prevent the Raptors from falling to the Hawks.

The last two night against Atlanta, Johnson has found his old form.  He’s filling up all areas of the stat sheet and contributing on both ends of the floor.

Early in the season it looked like Johnson might be a nice piece for the Raptors to hold on to as they look to the future and now it appears that way again.  Johnson is versatile, can play many positions and defends the ball very well.  He contributes with points, assists, rebounds and blocks.  He’s a multi faceted player and seems to be putting his name back into the off-season conversation.

Free Alabi

Tonight we finally got to see what happens when you release Alabi from the bench.  The results were as expected; mixed.  Alabi looked lost out there at times but occasionally found his way.  He was active in the paint and threw down a couple of nice dunks.  In the end he finished with 8 points and 9 rebounds.  Not a bad statline for someone who’s been getting only garbage time minutes all year.

Zan of the Night

Ivan Johnson

Active inside, defensive pain and ultimately the biggest difference in the game.  He worked the Raptors inside so that his more offensively gifted teammates could be open on the outside.  The Raptors had no answers to Ivan, he was simply too tough underneath the basket.

Not Zan of the Night

Tracy McGrady

Yes he was quite effective in his limited minutes and hd a pretty decent shooting night off the bench, but I just hate him so.  And apparently I’m not the only one who has never forgiven Mr. McGrady for leaving Toronto just before team embarked on its greatest run.  McGrady could have been part of a Raptor dynasty. Instead he left and now boos rain down on him every time he plays in the city.  One would’ve thought the fans would be over it.  Not likely ever to happen.

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Kristoffer Pedlar
The Zan Tabak Herald

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@kpedlar

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Filed under Post game, Raptor News

Commitment to Youth Important Down the Stretch

Were my eyes deceiving me on Wednesday night against Philadelphia? or was that Ed Davis playing 33 minutes and adding yet another double-double to his resume? Was that Solomon Alabi actually getting some burn in the late stages of the game?  Justin Dentmon even got some extended minutes backing up Jose, didn’t he?

This needs to be Dwane Casey’s plan for the rest of the season despite how much it drives him crazy.

The Raptors organization needs to use what limited amount of time we have left this season to assess the young assets that still remain on the team in order to form the framework for their offseason personnel decisions.

Casey needs to see what the Alabi’s, Davis’s and Forbes’s can do in extended minutes where they are given the ball to run with.

It's time Ed Davis was given more of a role on the current Raptors team. the year is almost over and there is still much to learn about him and a number of other younger players.

On Wednesday night, like he did on Monday, Davis had a strong showing.  His game has shown significant improvement over the last few weeks and the Raptors may still consider keeping him around next season.  

There were big hopes for Ed and his ability to rebound the ball and defend going into the year.  This skill set is only now beginning to reveal itself in his extended time on the court.  On Monday he played 17 minutes and had 11 points and 10 rebounds.  On Wednesday he played 33 minutes and had 13 point and 13 rebounds.

If Double-Double’s and consistent effort on the defensive end are what the Raptors can expect from Ed then more minutes need to be given to see if he can improve on these numbers or at least keep them steady.  A double-double off the bench is what any team needs, in the playoffs or out of them. 

While we are at it let’s give all the young question marks on our team a little more time to show whether they belong.

Forbes has benefited from increased minutes this season and is beginning to show his worth.  Newly acquired Alan Anderson and Justin Dentmon appear as though they may deserve a longer look.  Why not throw Alabi some extra burn too and see what these kids can do.

The Raptors are getting closer and closer to a top five pick in the lottery and the worst thing that can happen by playing these younger players is that they fail and the Raptors lose more games, thus increasing their lottery odds. If not now then when?

While the extra losses may haunt the competative Dwane Casey in his dreams it may also pave the way for a stronger future and will ultimately give his team a lot more data to use in making decisions during the off-season.

So, shut down Bargnani (just make it official already), shut down Calderon, Kleiza even.  Let Demar run the team with Alabi, Forbes, Davis and Anderson starting.

It’s time to see what these guys can do and it’s time to accept our fate.

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Kristoffer Pedlar
The Zan Tabak Herald

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@kpedlar

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