With NBA training camps set to open at the end of the month, some rookies, and anyone else who realizes their NBA future may be at risk, are already in town to start their preparations for next season.
Not surprisingly, the Raptors' coaches feel the same way.
Doug Smith of the Toronto Star says, "According to people in the know, the entire coaching staff’s in town now working out DeRozan, O’Bryant and Weems and the rest of the team is due in no later than next week.”
No one should be surprised by the Raptors' early return this season. No team can claim to have made more major changes than the Raptors have this offseason.
Fresh off of signing a new three-year deal with the Raptors in May, this is Jay Triano's first full season as a NBA head coach. Last year as interim head coach he had both players and assistant coaches he inherited from Sam Mitchell. This year, the excuses are gone. This is Jay's team and everyone expects him to take full responsibility for its successes and failures.
And this really is Jay's coaching staff. Of the Raptors six assistant coaches, only Alex English is returning from last season. These guys need to be here early as badly as the players do!
With nine new faces added to the team since the end of last season, not only do the players need to get to know one another, but some of these guys have to believe there will be opportunities that might not otherwise have existed.
The rookie DeMar DeRozan is proving he deserves to start for this team. Great potential without the work doesn't make you a friend of your coaches and DeRozan is out to prove that he is indeed a "gym rat!" It's exciting to know that your prized rookie is willing to work to earn his minutes.
Not much is known about Sonny Weems except that he can dunk. The senior from Arkansas, picked 39th by the Chicago Bulls, barely played last season and it wasn't for Chicago. Showing up early represents his best chance to show the Raptors' coaching staff he is worth keeping around.
And the seven-footer, Patrick O'Bryant has made the smart decision to show up early. POB hasn't done a lot yet to win over many fans at the ACC. But Bryan Colangelo, like GMs before him, seems intrigued by this guy's raw skill set. Well now is a good time to sell the coaches that this season, the NBA is going to see why those GMs have been so intrigued. At least we hope so.
It looks like the rest of the team is going to show up early as well. And it's a good thing too, as chemistry isn't something that happens overnight. This brief time before the official start of training camp represents the best time to get to know your coaches and fellow players before the competition for spots in the rotation really heats up.
Here's looking forward to the Raptors' preseason home opener on Wednesday, Oct. 7 vs Philadelphia. Can't wait!
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