Scouting Report: Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors are one of many Eastern Conference teams that, on paper, improved in the offseason. Tyler Hansbrough, Steve Novak and D.J. Augustin bolster a rather nonexistent bench a season ago, and Rudy Gay enters his first full season as a Raptor.
Toronto beat Boston 93-87 in their opener in Canada Wednesday night. gay led the way with 19 points on 8-18 shooting. Gay is a tremendous athlete with a lot of size for a small forward, and his game is very versatile. While he’s best in the mid-range and attacking the rim, he can’t be left unguarded on the perimeter either. His size and jumping ability allows him to shoot over smaller defenders, so DeMarre Carroll will have another tough assignment Friday.
|Hawks vs. Raptors|
Jonas Valanciunas anchors down the middle, and if Summer League is any indication (he DOMINATED), he’ll be in the running for most improved player this season. At 6’11”, his length impacts shots, and he’s a bruiser on the offensive end. My guess is with him gobbling up most of Toronto’s rebounds, he has the ability to lead the league in double doubles.
The other scoring threat to keep an eye on is DeMar DeRozan. He didn’t shoot well against Boston, but he’s not afraid to fire. Like Monta Ellis did Wednesday, DeRozan has the ability to get hot, and if he does, it’s a scary sight.
Hansbrough’s always a pest underneath, Novak will make you pay if you give him an open look, and Augustin is an efficient backup point guard, making Toronto’s second unit dangerous. The Hawks are coming off a great offensive performance but struggled defensively at times (in part because Dallas was hitting some downright ridiculous shots). We’ll see if they can put a more complete game together in the home opener Friday against a team that is 1-0 and believing in themselves after a 6-1 preseason.
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