Monday, September 26, 2022

Continue the theme for Raptor Media Day after several seasons rocked by the pandemic. CBC Sports

At this time last year, Nick Nurse had no idea what kind of team he had or how to play the season, and the Toronto Raptors coach admitted as much.

Longtime leader Kyle Lowry, rookie Scotty Barnes’ was still unproven, and the team had no true center.

Fast forward a year, and continuity was the theme of Monday’s Traditional Raptors Media Day.

Nurse said, “I sat here a year ago and had no idea who we were, identity-wise. For the most part, we played really good basketball once that mindset clicked.” “I feel confident knowing that we are much more at the moment than we were a year ago.”

In the rebuilding season, the Raptors posted a solid 48–34 last year, and saw Barnes win Rookie of the Year. They were eliminated by Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs, and entered their longest off-season in five years.

Amid the frenzy of player movement around the league, the Raptors’ heat was relatively calm, going with the status quo rather than a major shakeup. Fourteen players returned, making Toronto the league’s top team for roster fixture.

“We have made a commitment to grow,” said team president Masai Ujiri. “We’re a young team, a young growing team. We did the same thing last year, a lot of players who can make the leap. Even we have young legends in our legendary league, with Freddy [VanVleet]pascal [Siakam]OG [Anunoby]We have always wanted to preach patience.

“We want to win. We’re hoping to win. Honestly, we can’t react to what’s happening in the league. Yes, we watch other teams. We study all of that. But In terms of our plan, it is to develop our young players and continue to grow and see [where] that leads us.”

The media day, held at a sunny observatory in a posh hotel near the Raptors’ practice facility, showed a sense of normalcy – finally – after a few sessions rocked by COVID-19. The pandemic hit the Raptors hard, leaving them in Tampa, Fla., for one season.

“It’s really nice to see us come back from a normal summer again,” Ujiri said. “Hopefully we get through this winter and we’ll be back to normal a little bit.”

The Raptors were scheduled to fly to Victoria shortly after Media Day, the first time in three years that the camp had been held in an alternative Canadian city. It was in Tampa in 2021 and in Toronto last season.

Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri speaks to reporters at Raptors Media Day availability. The Raptors’ exhibition games are in Edmonton versus Utah on October 2, and against Boston in Montreal on October 14. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

“We want to feel the love of the Canadian people because we know about the support,” Ujiri said. “It’s been a few years since we were able to do things like this.”

The Raptors’ exhibition games are in Edmonton versus Utah on October 2, and against Boston in Montreal on October 14.

While Tuesday is the first official day of camp, most players gathered in Los Angeles weeks earlier, prompting Clippers star Paul George to praise him during one of Rico Hines’ famous scrimmages.

“Shout out Toronto, man. You all came and represented you all,” said George. “It’s crazy, I saw you all on YouTube in the first week, came and played the second week, now it’s week 3 and you’re still here. I’ll be disappointed, coach, if you don’t all come out to start the season.” hot for.”

The nurse, who added Hines to her coaching staff for this season, was thrilled to see the players connect just weeks before camp opened.

“I just feel a little bit of urgency, I feel some togetherness and I feel some real intensity this summer, and I think those three are really cool words,” Nurse said. “I think the team is shaping that identity that appeared a little late last year. They know who they are and want to expand. It was a good summer.”

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse speaks to reporters at Raptors Media Day availability. The Raptors posted a solid 48-34 last year, and saw Barnes win rookie of the year. They were eliminated by Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs, and entered their longest off-season in five years. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

One of the changes Nurse plans to make for this season is to lighten the burden on OneWleet. The guard made an admirable move into Lowry’s shoes as team leader, but it took a tough 37.9 minutes, and the 28-year-old was walking like an old man by the end of the season, his body battered before the playoffs began. went.

VanVleet pleaded guilty on Monday.

“Just with the adrenaline and the way the season was going and the last push we made to get into that position, I feel like I’ve zoned out a little bit in terms of listening to my body,” VanVleet said. “Of course I had to listen to my body. We got lost and I had to go to the doctor and all those things to plan for the rest of my summer. I had to be strong. I had to make some changes and I did those things, And I feel great.”

Barnes could lighten some of his load. The six-foot-seven, 225-pound sophistication had a frenzy on Twitter when the Raptors listed him as a guard/forward.

“I’ve always been a point guard, I’ve always had those point guard things,” Barnes said. “I think I can do it all, whatever it is. I can play in any position, so I don’t really try to limit myself to one spot.”

Barnes, who said he chose to attend Florida State because of his promise to let him play point guard, averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 35.4 minutes per game in his first season in which he played. Started all 74 games.

Ujiri called Barnes “one of those players of the future” with versatility.

“I don’t know how to describe him,” said Ujiri. “I don’t know what position that guy plays. He’s one of those guys who just plays basketball and is an incredible basketball player.”

The Raptors will practice at the University of Victoria. Their first pre-season game is October 9 versus Chicago in Toronto. They open the regular season on October 19 at home against Cleveland.

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