The Bench: Make or Break (during the regular season)
My thoughts on the bench
I believe we're leaving a lot of our bench on hope where we have to hope that Bargnani has to play well, Kapono somehow finds a way to get open, Roko Ukic to break down the defense, Will Solomon to be productive and Hump to do something extraordinary. I think of any year than in the past, we'll see more of a gel together of all the players than the 12 minute swap that Sam does after the first and third quarter. I think instead of the whole bench subbing, you'll see more of a gradual substitution pattern this year. At least, that is what is needed for us to get to the next level, not only for the players to come through, but also the coach with his understanding of the game.
Letís look further into the expectation for the Top 3 bench players (probable):
Bargnani - He has to take the next step in development for our bench to be something. He will be our 1st big man of the bench and most probably going to get 25-30 minutes a game and is going see time at C, PF and SF. His first pre-season stats look nice, and what is most impressive is the 9 rebounds, but we cannot get fooled. He has to put out a consistent effort on the glass and the Raptors discouraged him from taking 3-pointers during training camp for him to find other ways of scoring and get comfortable with it. I could care less about what he scores, I want to see him rebound around 6 or 7 a game and that is the most important improvement that we need to see from Bargnani. Rebounding and defensive awareness in general.
Kapono Ė Itíll be interesting which line-up he plays with the most. I actually expect to see a lineup of OíNeal, Bosh, Moon and Calderon playing with Kapono. When we signed Kapono, we heard so much of that he isnít the best defender man-to-man but heís a very good system defender. In his first year, he was never able to show his ability of being a solid system defender, but in his second year, he has OíNeal to back him and he should be returning to his 06-07 form, and he has to for our bench to have a reliable wing of the bench.
Ukic Ė This is the kid I was very high on when we drafted him. I saw many clips and caught a couple of games online and I saw him as a future starting PG of a team in the NBA. His development has been slow, and in his first year, heíll be thrown into the fire just like Calderon. He has very good size and he may look like a combo guard but he is very capable of playing the point. I think if he is brought around slowly, it will be the best for his development and the Raptors. As he gets more familiar with the NBA, heíll start earning his minutes, and we can save Calderon near the end of the season and make full use of him in the playoffs. (This will either look really good at the end of the year, or really bad).
I expect Solomon to play a little bit in the beginning of the year, and Hump will be doing what he usually does and his minutes will come sporadically. So, what do you guys think? Good analysis? Too much wishful thinking? Solid?
Let me know what you guys think and post your views on the bench...