Raptors at Pistons Points Per Game: Early struggles evaporate; Gay seems fine; How impressive has Valanciunas been; Blame BC for a lot of other things first, before knocking him for passing on Drummond

- March 30th, 2013

How about that, a Raptors laugher! It’s been a while. Things are looking dire in Detroit and the Lawrence Frank era seems to be moving closer to an end, though I believe he still has a year on his deal to go. Remember, Frank and Dwane Casey were the two finalists in Toronto. Now, after two seasons, both are on shaky ground even though all looked good at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season for both of them. Greg Monroe, for one, looks fed up with the way things are going in Detroit and the lack of fight in many of his teammates not named Jose Calderon, Brandon Knight or Andre Drummond.

Some thoughts on Friday’s game:

- Far more positives than negatives on this night, but, let’s get the negatives out of the way: DeMar DeRozan’s shot selection was horrendous early on. He seemed to be making a point of taking the most difficult and/or lowest percentage shots possible. To his credit, he was able to be far more effective later on.

- Jonas Valanciunas still has lots of work to do defensively. One particular area of weakness is responding quickly enough to when the ball is put on the floor. That said, Greg Monroe is a very mobile big, so it makes sense that he’ll beat Valanciunas off the bounce a few times. And, as a whole, Monroe was held to a brutal 3-for-11 shooting line, in part by the big Lithuanian.

-Kyle Lowry was extremely careless early. Still, he recovered from the miscues to take far better care of the ball the rest of the way.

- Besides the turnovers, the biggest problem with Toronto’s offence of late and before the third quarter explosion, has been a lack of movement. Players are standing around, not cutting and not setting enough screens. It has made the offence easy to defend and it allowed Detroit to get off to a quick lead. One guy who helps get things on track: Landry Fields, who is always on the move.

Positives:

- The aforementioned movement by Fields. He’s a guy that helps teams win, overpaid or not.

- Rudy Gay’s back doesn’t seem to be bothering him much of late. That’s back-to-back dominant games and five good ones in a row when he’s been able to play big minutes (though he did his damage in one third quarter run in this one). That should quiet a few of those freaking out and trying to convince the world he’s the worst player ever.

- Valanciunas continued his great run on offence with another clinic. Valanciunas (14, 14 and 4 blocks) keeps getting better and more effective. When teamed with Amir Johnson, Valanciunas has been superb. He’s shooting 62.6% in March, 82.9% from the line and a ridiculous 80% or so over his past seven games. Give the man more touches.
With Lithuanians dotting the sparse crowd like they did earlier in the season, Valanciunas continued to impress.

- As expected Jose to Calderon to Andre Drummond works very well and is pretty to see.
- Drummond looks like an impact player, but he’s extremely limited offensively. Is he ever going to be a guy you can rely on and keep in games late? Time will tell. Rip Bryan Colangelo for his many missteps, but I can’t get on the bash him for passing on Drummond bandwagon. Drummond’s lone season at UCONN was horrendous. He`s not a power forward, and the Raptors were already committed to developing future franchise centre Jonas Valanciunas, who is a far more rounded player. There were few signs he’d make it as an NBAer, despite his ridiculous physical gifts. He can`t shoot free throws at all and all he can do is score at the bucket and still gets lost at times defensively. Not to mention his draft interview was hilarious for all the wrong reasons, sources say. Drummond said he preferred to fix computers than play basketball. It`s hard to sell yourself on a guy who did very little to sell you on him. To Detroit`s credit, they looked past all of that and took a gamble at N0. 9 that the other teams wouldn`t. They got an NBA player. Whether he`s one that helps you win games is still to be decided. Of course, it`s also very much up in the air whether Terrence Ross, taken a pick earlier, will become a player that helps you win as well.

Categories: Basketball, NBA, Toronto Raptors

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