COMMENTARY | The Toronto Raptors kicked off their training camp today with morning and evening sessions.
Now that the buzz of the 2016 All-Star game and Drake coming on board are starting to become old news, what are some stories to follow during training camp?
Which Kyle Lowry Will Show Up This Season?
Last season, Kyle Lowry teased fans in the season by averaging more than 15 points, five assists and five rebounds during his first handful of games as a Raptor. However, injury issues, problems keeping his weight down, and butting heads with his coach limited his effectiveness the rest of the season. Lowry has vowed to have a much better season, but talk is cheap. It will be interesting to see what an inspired Lowry can do in the final year of his contract as he tries to prove he is a starting point guard in the NBA.
Has DeMar DeRozan Added A 3-Point Shot to His Arsenal?
DeRozan told the media he shot 3s until he made 300 on media day, but how many attempts did that take? Was he consistent working on this all summer despite the fact he became a dad, spent time training with the United States select team, and was busy creating highlights at the Drew League? DeRozan has shot an abysmal .239 from beyond the arc during his NBA career and needs to greatly improve on that number to keep defenders honest and take the next step as a player.
Is Rudy Gay Better Than the 37th-Best Player in the NBA?
Slam Magazine recently posted a list of the 50 best players in the NBA and Gay was ranked 37th. Was this too low? Too high? It's tough to say because a player like Luol Deng has made two All-Star games but was ranked only 49th.
But you can also make the argument that Gay is a better player that some of the players ranked higher than him. It will be interesting to see what impact offseason eye surgery has on his shooting percentages. Plus, Gay has the ability to burn the final year of his contract and become a free agent next summer. It's something Toronto's front office feels he will do, so it's clear he'll be motivated to have a big season.
Will Dwane Casey Dish Out Some Tough Love?
After Bryan Colangelo was removed from Toronto's front office, there were whispers Casey wasn't able to have the playing rotations he'd like or dedicate the time he wanted to keeping things tight on the defensive end. With Masai Ujiri running the show, there will be no meddling from the front office and Casey will have a lot of pressure to have the team take a big leap forward this season. He will be able to tighten up his playing rotation and if players don't get at it on the defensive end, he'll have the freedom to let them sit on the bench. If Toronto struggles or under performs, it will likely spell the end of Casey's time in Toronto.
Who Will Be the Final Player to Make the Team?
Toronto enters training camp with 14 players under contract and Chris Wright, Julyan Stone and Carlos Morais essentially fighting for the final roster spot. It's possible the team eats the contract of a player if it isn't performing well, but the last time that happened was when Jamario Moon shocked Sam Mitchell and the rest of the coaching staff.
However, with one roster spot open, it's likely the team only takes one player from that trio. This is Wright's second training camp with the team, so there's some familiarity with what Casey is running and trying to accomplish. Likewise, Stone had been with the Denver Nuggets for the previous two seasons, so it's clear that Ujiri is a fan of his. The relative unknown -- and maybe even the favorite -- is Morais, because he is coming off a great summer that saw him named the 2013 Afrobasket MVP. He is looking to become the first player trained in Africa to make a roster in the NBA.
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