The Toronto Raptors enter the new season determined to learn if Kyle Lowry is their playoffs-grade point guard for years to come, or a stubborn flake unworthy of a contract extension. Kyle has had no competition for the starter’s role since Jose Calderon was sent packing, and won’t this season. The two other point guards with contracts are rookie Dwight Buycks and D.J. Augustin (you knew we’d get to him eventually!), who has shown himself incapable of maintaining a starter’s job.
D.J. comes to Canada from Indiana, where he played one season after four in Charlotte. The Bobcats drafted him #9 in 2008 following 2 excellent seasons in Texas (in his sophomore year, he was named an Academic All-American by the NCAA, for which we offer belated applause). In Charlotte, he enjoyed an exceptional ’10-’11 season, averaging over 33 minutes, 6 assists and 14 points while starting all 82 games. However, his production has slid markedly since those heady days, and Toronto may have been his only option after a shockingly bad season as a Pacer. I saw him several times, and was troubled by his poor play, having seen him carve up the Raps a few times while a ‘Cat. He seemed hesitant in his decision-making, a major weakness for an NBA point guard, where opportunities to make the “right” pass or cut endure for but an instant.
D.J. is the only Rap shorter than Kyle. Both are officially listed at 6’0″, but that’s an NBA height, meaning it’s been juiced. D.J. likely lost his starting job in part because he’s not a demon defender, and taller guards like Kyrie Irving can destroy him (in fairness, that guy and others, like Derrick Rose and Damian Lillard, are too much for almost everyone). Once that started happening, I suspect the worm of doubt starting affecting his offensive play. Whatever the reason, D.J. is a backup now, and may be pushed for even the secondary role by the mystery man, Dwight Buycks.
I think you can see where I’m going with this – I don’t know what to expect from D.J. Augustin. He’s a solid 3-point (career shooting percentage: 37) and free-throw shooter (87.2), but likely hastened his exit from Charlotte by turning the ball over 2.29 times per game in his final season there. Coach Dwane Casey will insist his first-option point guard protect the ball, so D.J. will need to demonstrate that fundamental in training camp and pre-season.
As mentioned, D.J. is a bright guy, who surely is aware his NBA career hangs by a thread, even though he’s a mere 25 years old and hardly shopworn. Let’s hope he shows up in shape mentally and physically, and approaches the high levels of play of his early years. If he doesn’t, I won’t be surprised if he’s waived by Christmas.
Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.
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