The kind folks at Raptors HQ asked us to exchange some questions and answers. Here are the questions we posed to them. (Update: See my responses to their questions here)
1. DeMar DeRozan - DeFuture franchise guy or just DeScorer in need of an alpha-dog?
It's still too early to determine what the Raptors have in DeRozan. There is no question he is improved over last season. He is more aggressive, more confident and putting up better numbers than last season with a few exceptions. Next year will be put-up/shu-up time for DeMar. Has he shown flashes of greatness? Sure. Will he be great? Hard to say but given this year's roster there is no question he will have the opportunity to show weather he can be the first option on a good team. Raptors fans are starved for a quality wing man - the team has been devoid of talent on the wing since Vince left and that feels like three life times ago.
2. Collangelo has been anything but timid in his moves the last few years. After a lot of promise early on, the team has largely sputtered. What's the current plan moving forward?
Your guess is as good as mine. With Colangelo the "plan" seems to change on a regular basis. Remember Jermaine O'Neal? Hedo Turkoglu? Shawn Marion? Each off-season there is major turn-over and little evidence of a long-term plan. Right now the Raptors are in the nether regions of the NBA standings - not good enough to be a playoff team and not bad enough to have the best shot at a high pick come lottery time. Worst case scenario here is Colangelo gets sick of the losing and tries to make a "Band-aid" deal that might serve some purpose short term but does little to help in the long-term. Fans are hoping the plan is to build a winner with a strong foundation. Right now the team is still trying to build that foundation.
3. Give us a player or two to keep an eye on Friday and for the rest of the season that might be an impact player soon. Ed Davis? Bayless? Any-day-now-Amir?
The Raps have lots of young players and the hope is one or two of them can develop into quality players to help this team regain some respectability. Bayless has been a pleasant surprise (although now with a bad ankle), Amir has actually performed quite well, but the guy to watch is Davis. The Raps were fortunate that he was available when their pick came around in the draft as he is the long term replacement for Bosh. Despite starting the season injured he has been a constant part of the rotation and has shown some nice touch and good rebounding ability (never to be underestimated given Andrea Bargnani is the starting center...). Davis is a player under the radar due both to his quiet demeanor and late start this season but I fully expect him to improve day in and day out. In many ways Davis reminds me of a young Chris Bosh in that he needs time to develop (both skill and body wise) but there is an obvious feel for the game. Raptors fans need to be patient but the talent is there.