The Toronto Raptors are quite an interesting team, especially during the 2011-2012 season.
Many predict that the Raptors will be a bottom feeding team that will not even have a chance of smelling the playoffs this season. Although I don’t think they will be a top contender, there are some things to like about this squad.
So what should we watch out for this season?
Defensive Mindset/ Attitude
With the hiring of Dwane Casey as the head coach of the Raptors, they begin their transition towards becoming a defensive-minded team. Casey is known as a great defensive coach and this is exactly what the Raptors need as their defense (largely in part to Bargnani and Calderon) has been embarrassing the past couple of seasons.
The impact that Casey has had on the team was on display in their first preseason game. Bargnani looked to focus much more on defense and actually looked like a "big" out there as he grabbed nine rebounds.
This focus on defence will be an excellent learning curve for many of the younger Raptors who are a part of their nucleus (DeRozan, Davis, Bayless). This will definitely be something to watch throughout the whole season, regardless of their record.
The Growth of Ed Davis
I have been a fan of Ed Davis since the first game he played for the Raptors (I picked him up in my fantasy league right away).
Davis shows great potential for banging the glass and becoming an excellent defensive player. As he showed in his first preseason game, Davis is capable of getting a double-double every game (10 points, 10 rebounds against the Celtics).
Davis is still young (22) and raw but I believe he has the talent to become an excellent complement to Jonas Valanciunas in 2012-2013. His progression is something that Raptor fans need to keep watch of throughout the season.
Can Bayless surpass Calderon as the lead PG?
Another important storyline this season is who will take the reins at PG. It seems as of now that Casey will ride the hot hand down the stretch of games with both PGs getting ample minutes.
With Bayless only 23 and Calderon 30 years old, it would be prudent for the Raptors to see if Bayless can be their guy, especially before next year’s loaded draft.
The one thing I am hoping for is that Calderon tutors Bayless on how to minimize his turnovers. Calderon has always had one of the best Assist-to-Turnover ratio in the league while Bayless is a little more careless with the ball (four TOs in 24 minutes against the Celtics and 18 in his last four regular-season games last year).
If Bayless can assert himself as a solid PG option, then the Raptors have the 1, 2, 4, 5 positions set for a while (Bayless, DDR, Davis and JV respectively).
Although the Raptors are not expected to challenge for a playoff spot there are still many intriguing storylines for the 2011-2012 Raptors season.
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