What have the first two Raptors games taught us?

Contributing writer Michael Skryzniak evaluates the early performance of the 2011-2012 Toronto Raptors after their first win and loss.

” but a big man is/has/seems like it will always be, a glaring hole for Toronto. Oh wait, Jamaal Magloire is there to take up space!….uhh, too bad he’s 33 and his best years are behind him. “

In one word, nothing. We knew this team would struggle on both sides of the court and even though there have been some positives in the first two games, Raptors fans should prepare for another wearisome season. To start breaking down the Raptors after the small sample size, I’ve noticed some good, bad and ugly facets to the Dino’s game…

The good:

I understand that the Cavaliers stink and that the Pacers aren’t known for possessing a high-powered offense, but the Raptors didn’t allow either team to score 100 points. If you’ve watched any Raptor games over the last two or three seasons, trust me, this is a positive. Coach Dwane Casey is preaching defense, and in 2 games I’d have to give him a B+ in enforcing his voice.

Sure, the Raptors had some trouble containing Danny Granger and David West late in the game last night, but these guys are all-star players and Indiana is going to be a top 6 team in the East this year. Are we going to keep every opponent under 100 points? No, but it’s a good sign the Raps are keeping these under-stacked teams in check. The offensive assertiveness of the Raps 2 stars, Andrea Bargnani and Demar Derozan (a.k.a. DDR) has been a pleasure to observe as well. Bargnani is doing all he can with what is around him.

The bad:

With the focus on defense, the Raps offense is lacking energy and this was very evident against the Pacers. The Raps don’t have a ton of guys who can make their own shot, so they rely on ball movement and screens, Bargnani being the focal point. When Bargnani or DDR don’t have the ball in their hands, the offense is stagnant. I’m still not sold on Jose Calderon as a starting PG in the NBA, and even though he has some chemistry with Amir Johnson, I think it’s time to move on from the Calderon era in Toronto. Am I being a hater? Possibly, but you’re not going to convince me there isn’t at least 20 better point guards in the league.

What I have learned about the NBA is you need a trustworthy point guard and a reliable centre who dominates on one side of the court in order to win. The Raptors have neither. Is their future bland? Personally I don’t think so. They do have the flying V coming next year to add some grit and (luckily) the draft is going to be one of its deepest in years. The Raptors will be a lottery pick again and hopefully Bryan Colangelo has a rabbit in his hat or else Raptor fans will have to settle with years of ineptitude.

The ugly:

Why is Amir Johnson a starting centre in the NBA? I’m not questioning his talent, but he is only 1 inch taller than LeBron and no where near his weight. This is why the Raptors won’t win, well, not the only reason, but a big man is/has/seems like it will always be, a glaring hole for Toronto. Oh wait, Jamaal Magloire is there to take up space!….uhh, too bad he’s 33 and his best years are behind him. Andrea Bargnani’s rebounding has to be included with the ugly as well. The big spaghetti played 31 minutes and only pulled down 4 rebounds? That’s abysmal for a starting 7 footer who is supposed to be the leader/star of this team.

-Michael Skryzniak @Mikey_Skriz

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