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Changes Coming For Toronto Raptors

Getting slapped around 42-15 by the Golden State Warriors in the fourth quarter last night may be the final straw for Dwane Casey and some players on the Toronto Raptors.

Sure, every team has one bad quarter or even a bad game during the course of a grueling 82-game NBA season. But that horrific meltdown is far from the only problem the Raptors have had so far this season.

This summer, new Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri told the Toronto Star that he would give the team until mid-December to evaluate what is in place.

Well, the early returns aren’t good for Casey and Rudy Gay.

Sure, Gay is averaging 19.6 points per game and 7.2 rebounds, but his shooting percentages are abysmal. He is shooting 38% from the field, which marks his lowest percentage of his career and well below the 44% he averages for his career.

So much for offseason eye surgery being the solution.

On top of his shooting woes, Gay has cemented his status as a chucker. This season, he has touched the ball 418 times on offense and has taken 320 shots.

When you throw into the mix that Gay is only averaging .79 points per possession, it becomes painfully clear he’s not an efficient option on the offensive end for the Raptors.

Meanwhile, the player the franchise is grooming to be the face of the franchise, Jonas Valanciunas, is only attempting 8.1 field goals per game while shooting an impressive 53% from the field.

Sorry, but giving Gay the green light while limiting the amount of shots an effective shooter like Valanciunas takes isn’t the kind of situation any winning team will have or allow to be cultivated.

There have been rumblings that the team might look to trade DeRozan, but there’s no way the team will deal arguably its best player, even if he has some problems on the defensive end. DeRozan is locked into a reasonable contract for three more seasons after this one, and he continues to show growth after each season.

Plus, he’s still 24 years old and there is still a high ceiling on his NBA career. With DeRozan currently 12th in the NBA in scoring (21.8 points per game), there’s a chance he could make the All-Star team due to a lack of elite guards in the Eastern Conference.

Which leads to the next issue: head coach Dwane Casey.

Casey is beloved by the members of the media in Toronto because he’s always willing to give us a great quote, he’s passionate about the team improving, and he has a vast amount of knowledge about the game of basketball he’s willing to share with the media.

The problem is, he’s not getting results on the court and that’s in large part due to some questionable coaching decisions.

First, why are DeMar DeRozan and Gay able to average a combined 36.6 field-goal attempts per game when Valanciunas averages only 8.1?

Second, why bench the heart of your team, Amir Johnson, this week when Gay is without a doubt a reason the offense is struggling? Johnson has gone through a bit of a stagnant stretch, so Casey was quick to give him the hook and replace him in the starting lineup with Tyler Hansbrough.

There is also a history of questionable coaching decisions late in games that have cost Toronto wins last season and already this season.

Listening to Casey talk with the media after the loss in Golden State it became clear he’s aware he is a lame-duck coach because he has run out of chances here in Toronto. Casey is usually quick to find the silver lining after every game, but he looked clearly dejected and like a coach that just took a kick to the gut.

Casey isn’t the only person on thin ice, and it will be interesting to see what other roster moves Ujiri makes this month.

Ryan McNeill
Ryan McNeill has appeared on ESPN Radio, MTV Canada, SiriusXM, The Fan 590 and other radio programs and TV shows. He has covered the NBA with media credentials since the 2007-08 season.
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