The Raptors will be heading to the East Coast for training camp this year. That is nothing new for a team that has had camp in Italy, Vancouver, Ottawa and even their first right here in my hometown of Hamilton. What is different this year is the number of guys that will be there to start. The Raptors currently have 18 people on their roster. The NBA League maximum is of course 15. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to understand that at least 3 people will be getting cut.
While it does not have any of the Raptors main players on the roster feeling that they could be that guy to be left off the roster. It does send a message of competition even before that first official whistle blows at the official practice to take place on October 2, 2012. It says that nothing for anyone is guaranteed. It also brings in hungry players trying to defy the odds and make this roster. That pushes the group as a whole to work harder.
Dwane Casey really didn’t have time last season to go through this exercise in team building. There was a limited amount of time with the NBA Lockout and only two pre-season games. This year the league is back on a regular schedule and that makes a process like this possibly.
One down note already in the Raptors plans for training camp has been the injury to Jonas Valanciunas. It is vital he sees the floor as soon as possible. He has a great deal of learning to do and adapting to the NBA game. The more time he misses the harder and steeper that learning curve becomes.
Ed Davis will finally get a full training camp under his belt in year 3 of his NBA career. In his rookie season he was forced to sit out with a knee injury and as mentioned last season’s training camp was anything but normal.
Jose Calderon will enter training camp officially or un-officially as second on the Raptors’ depth chart at the point guard position. Kyle Lowry will be the guy at the top of the list and he will be looking to show everyone why. It is going to be a strange dynamic between the two for as long as Calderon is on this roster.
While I did say that all the main players on this roster can feel fairly safe in making the roster. They may just not be safe from trades at some point. Deals that happen during training camp are rare. The last one the Raptors made I believe was for Mike James bringing him in for his one season with the Raptors. Still the possibility looms for guys especially if one of these guys that no one expects to make the roster shows the Raptors something.
It also should allow Casey to fully implement his defensive system. Something that he had to do in bits and pieces over last year with great success. The Raptors identity has changed quite a bit but expect that change to be even more so now. The extra number of bodies also allows for Casey to quickly give some one a seat in practice or pre-season games. Messages can be delivered.
Outside of the Raptors franchise there is a lot of excitement and anticipation for what this team can do. Expectations that may be to high and maybe out of whack. That said the Raptors have expectations which are something that was lacking since Chris Bosh took his ball and went to South Beach. While these group may not meet the lofty expectations of a return to the playoffs they now have some pressure from not only within the organization but from outside of it to achieve some things. It is all part of a process to building a better team.
Tomorrow will all get some thoughts on what we can expect from this group? From the guy that will call 48 of their 82 games, the one and only Jack Armstrong. It is always interesting to get Jack’s thoughts on the direction of this franchise. It is a true privilege for us to have him as a guest.