I have not watched as much of the preseason as I would have liked, but am left with a few glaringly obvious concerns. The first concern I have has already been touched on by Brian Boake. This would be the high number of turnovers the Raptors have been committing so far this preseason. The Raptors have turned the ball over 20+ times in four of the five pre-season games to date, which is downright terrible. As far as turnover differential goes (the Raptors turnovers vs their opponents turnovers) the Raptors are -33 in the first seven games. With that miserable turnover differential it is completely astonishing that the Raptors preseason record is 6-1! This has to be a serious cause for concern in the season to come, both with the players and the coaching staff. Kyle Lowry has turned the ball over 17 times so far, just over 2 turnovers a game. That number will have to improve slightly if he is to be the leader and starting point guard for the Raptors. Lowry is in a contract year and needs to prove he’s the man for the years to come. How are the backups doing with turnovers? D.J. Augustin has 8 turnovers so far, and Dwight Buycks has 15. The Lowry and Buycks alone alone nearly match the turnover differential mentioned above by themselves.
My second cause for concern is the lack of playing time the starters have been getting as a group, though this has changed in the last two games. Except for Jonas Valanciunas, most of the starters had averaged around 20 minutes per game or less, but are contributing to over half of the total Raptors turnovers this pre-season. It would seem that Coach Casey had been attempting to build cohesiveness and find out what the bench unit could provide, at the cost of polishing up the issues with the starting five. The question looms: can the starting five can be more productive and efficient when their minutes increase? If they cannot and the turnovers continue to be as frequent with increased starters’ minutes the Raptors will be in some serious trouble to win games, especially on the road. This becomes important because the Raptors have a four-game road swing at the end of November shortly after the start of the regular season.
Things are not all bad in Raptor land, however. One pleasant surprise this pre-season has been Tyler Hansbrough. That being said I also owe the readers an apology for agreeing with a comment Jack Armstrong made about him late last season. Armstrong opined that Hansbrough was a no-talent hack who shouldn’t be on the floor. That couldn’t be further from the truth with his performance thus far. The Raptors knew what they were getting with Hansbrough on the defensive end of the court as well as rebounding the ball, and surprisingly his offensive game has bloomed nicely. Perhaps Hansbrough was not a good fit for Indiana’s offensive system, but a much better fit for the Raptors. Hansbrough’s use has reminded me a lot of how the Miami Heat involve Chris “Birdman” Andersen in their offense. Hansbrough has outrun defenders down the floor leading to open layups and has also been the recipient of passes from guard penetration drive-&-kick plays, finishing them with more skill than I had expected.
One bright spot cannot make a whole season, however. Let’s hope our Raptors starting five can protect the ball just a little better, and get this season started off the right way – with some wins.
[Editor's Note: We aren't including last night's stats in this post, as the game was cancelled shortly after tip-off.]
Greg Hall is a staff writer with 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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