Title: Development program: What skill each Raptors player should focus on this summer
Date: May 11, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I outlined the one area each Raptor most needs to focus on this summer.
Now that report cards are in from Professor Curly Locks over there, it’s time to look ahead to what each Toronto Raptors player needs to do this summer.
“Most of the guys on the bench are young and hungry, and I know that these playoffs will be in the back of our minds all summer,” Fred VanVleet said as the team cleared their lockers out Tuesday.
And hungry they should be. Coming off a two-round playoff run in which a number of young players got their first taste of the post-season – the five youths in the 10-man rotation had played a combined 65 playoff minutes before this year – the knowledge of where each player most needs to focus should be instructive.
“I think it can be nothing but positive for them,” C.J. Miles said. “These guys, they’re working their tails off for the last couple years and then getting all the minutes and experience they got this season, and arguably won us a lot of games. They got a taste of that other level I was talking about. And there was no way they could know about it, because they’d never really been in the situation. It’s almost like a hit that was inevitable. And still later on, they still had good moments, because you grab the bull by the horns, you can hold on for a second. But until you figure out everything that you need to do for the situation, it’s hard…You just put your head down and you work through the summer, until September, whatever.”
Patience is important. A number of the team’s players fundamentally shifted their long-term projections with strong seasons, and if the Raptors are going to keep this group together, they’re going to be betting on a lot of internal improvement. Development is not linear, and each successive jump up the NBA role ladder is more difficult than the last, so reasonable expectations should be kept.