Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Format of The Future

If there's anything that yesterday's practice indicated, it's that the Raptors plan on a culture change. Defence. Defence. Defence. No seriously. For real this time. Yes, we've heard this before over the last few years, but I think this may be the first time I've actually believed it.


It starts with the departure of Chris Bosh. Don't get it twisted. Bosh wasn't known for his defensive prowess, but that's because we asked him to carry the load on offense. That's not to say he wasn't capable, evident with his time on the American Olympic team. The fact that we paired him up with Bargnani to form our paint presence also magnified our defensive problems.

But now with Bosh gone, the Raptors can finally scrap their experiment and put a defensive minded and rebounding big next to Bargnani. Amir Johnson's extension, the selection of Ed Davis and Solomon Alabi, the pickup of Joey Dorsey, the attempted acquisition of Tyson Chandler, and the now rumoured interest in Eric Dampier also suggest this is in fact the plan.

No matter how the frontcourt ends up looking, I think we can all expect better rebounding and interior defense than last year - though that's not saying much.

Now what about the first line of defense?

On the wings, we have what may be the most athletic group Raptors Nation has seen in awhile. The speed, energy, and youthful enthusiasm that DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, and Julian Wright bring to the table will interesting to watch. Roaming the court also will be who many NBA fans refer to as the Brazilian Blur - Leandro Barbosa. The former Suns combo guard has averaged at least 1 steal per game throughout his career; a team high on the Raps.

Will we able to lock teams down? Probably not. This year's installment of the Raptors will go through its growing pains. But the change in culture is what matters the most here. Gone are the days we place Turkoglu or Kapono out there to defend the perimeter.

Defence will be key this year. As Triano put it: "Our transition buckets will be an indication of our defense this year". Without key stops or rebounding, our biggest strength in running the floor will be negated.

Other than a steady big to further bolster our injured and inexperienced group of big men, what do the Raptors need next moving forward? Assuming the coaching staff continues to teach DeMar Kobe's pet moves and show support for Bargnani, then Colangelo needs to find himself a young and athletic point guard. There's a fad going around in the NBA that revolves around the dynamic and super athletic point guard. Think John Wall, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Jennings, Stephen Curry, Tyreke Evans, and of course Derrick Rose. I was hoping we'd be able to snatch up Avery Bradley, but to no avail. Whether it be through the draft or a trade, the Raps need to match up better at the 1 spot.

Defense wins championships. So if we're really intent on starting over, let's do it the right way.

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