Time to announce the winners of the Raptor Oscars.
In a season where the Raptors didn’t have a true rookie (their prized draft choice, Jonas V, stayed in Europe to play, which probably was just as well), I’m going to name a Rookie of the Year anyway. Let’s have a round of applause for….Dwane Casey! My post, my rules, and the RoY is the coach. No individual player had a great season, yet the TEAM was better – that’s coaching.
Did we have an MVP? Not really. The only contenders were Bargnani & Calderon, and Bargs was hurt for half the season. That leaves Jose, who until he got into a bar fight with the Philly guys and got his face bashed, was passing beautifully most of the time, and scoring when that was needed. So, Jose (Black & Blue) Calderon, take a bow.
Any more hardware to hand out? James Johnson is my choice for Most Improved Player. His defence is excellent, and his offence is improving. In particular, he seems to have an instinct for when to drive, and when to shoot. However, dark rumours of conflict with the coach didn’t help at all. JJ, you won’t get better while you’re benched.
That’s it for individual trophies. What about the also-rans?
DeMar DeRozan’s first third of the season was too dismal to allow him back into the MVP race after his shooting improved and his points became more predictable. He has a ton of things to work on, which I’ll list in Part 2.
Amir Johnson and Ed Davis had lacklustre seasons, which is most disappointing. I expected progress from one of them at least. Ed’s shooting is still poor. His post game hasn’t made strides, so there’s no pressure on his defender, who backs off and looks elsewhere to gum up the Raps’ offence. Amir can’t be faulted for lack of effort or grit, but if he’s not receiving great passes from Jose, he doesn’t pose a threat offensively either.
Linus Kleiza had the small-forward job handed to him on a platter, and dropped it on the floor.
Those players I haven’t mentioned will be lucky to have jobs next year. The list of contenders for Least Valuable Player is depressingly long.
In my next post, I’ll take a shot, pre-draft, at next season’s roster, including some wishful-thinking free agents.