Scouting the Opposition: Toronto Raptors
For every home game this season, we’ll be gathering some intel on the opposing team from someone who knows them best — a team employee, a rival blogger, beat writer or broadcaster.
For the Hawks’ home game Wednesday night against the Raptors, we reached out to Mike Ulmer, who writes about Toronto for the team’s official website, for his take on their team.
His answers are below:
Hawks.com: We are now at the midway point in the NBA season – how do you rate the Raptors performance so far?
Mike Ulmer: Up and down. The defensive performance has been very inconsistent. Jose Calderon has been great. Kyle Lowry has struggled to find his place in the offence. The team has been competitive since its 4-19 horrid so the season has been very mixed.
Hawks.com: The Raptors have a lot of talented young bigs. How do you rate the progress of guys like Ed Davis and Amir Johnson?
MU: Johnson’s improvement can be attributed to staying in the game and away from foul trouble. He has worked diligently to improve his footwork and defensive posture and has done so while keeping the energy in his game. Davis has rebuilt his jump shot and dedicated himself to being a better pro, beginning with his decision to play in the summer league.
Hawks.com: The NBA’s trade deadline is less than a month away. Do you see the Raptors being big players in the trade market?
MU: There has been much talk of a trade involving Rudy Gay. Andrea Bargnani returns from injury in a few days so that will likely prompt more rumors. Calderon is on a returning contract and remains a very good player.
Hawks.com: Raptors fans had to wait a year for top draft pick Jonas Valanciunas to make his way over to the NBA. How was he performing in his rookie season before he hurt his finger? What is the latest on when he might return to action?
MU: There is no timetable for his return although it seems it will be weeks rather than months. He has shown himself to be a quick study with great footwork and an incredible motor.
Hawks.com: Toronto is presently 5 games out of the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. What do the Raptors need to do to make a push for a playoff spot?
MU: They need a guy to take the shot at the end of the game and a lockdown defender.