MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Jose Calderon is fourth in the NBA in assists on a team that's 27th in scoring and was, in an injury-riddled year, Toronto's most consistent performer. The seven-year veteran point guard also clicked almost immediately with new coach Dwane Casey, who was able to design a defense that masked some of Calderon's deficiencies.
MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER
Amir Johnson, an athletic, young big man, had a strangely limited impact on the season. His statistics were virtually the same from the 2010-11 season but he wasn't able to capitalize on his athleticism enough to have a serious impact on the season.
The need for a wing player who can break his man down off the dribble is glaring. The Raptors have developed a defensive focus, they have a fine stretch four in Andrea Bargnani and a solid wing in DeMar DeRozan but there is no one on the team capable of going one-on-one when it is absolutely necessary.
FREE AGENT FOCUS
Jerryd Bayless, who can be re-signed for a qualifying offer of just over $4 million, would seem to be the most significant player Toronto needs to make a decision on. The other free agents, perhaps with the exception of Aaron Gray, are bit players like backup center Jamaal Magloire and little used Solomon Alabi and don't figure into the team's long-term plans.
--F Ed Davis has heard the comments so often, he's getting tired of them. He's got about 230 pounds on his 6-10 frame and everyone from teammates to coaches to the media are hammering home the need for more bulk and strength.
"Honestly I think they're going to say that the rest of my career, no matter if I get to 300 pounds," Davis said. "They've been saying that my whole career. I do need to get stronger so I'm going to be in the weight room all summer."
This will be a pivotal summer for the 22-year-old Davis because coach Dwane Casey said he will be the focal point of Toronto's summer league team.
--F James Johnson knows he had a penchant for trying to too much offensively because coach Dwane Casey has been making that point since the season began. Johnson seems contrite, to a point.
"I think what I can do might seem a little too much now and again to everybody else," he said. "But I know I can do it and I work on my game. It's just putting those pieces together. Sometimes, yes, you do too much, might over-dribble a little bit, but it's basketball and if you feel you can take your man and it might take a few more dribbles, then do that."
--G DeMar DeRozan hasn't sniffed the postseason in his three years with the Raptors and vows they'll get to the playoffs next year. He said the team better because he's tired of handling the peer pressure he gets from more accomplished friends.
"I've got a lot of close friends that I'll be watching in a few days playing in the playoffs," he said. "It will definitely be tough for me just watching, because I want to be in the same position as well. But I know next year, I definitely feel it, that we're definitely going to be in the playoffs next year. I can't wait."
--F Andrea Bargnani (strained left calf) will continue a rehabilitation program throughout the summer.
Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.