Raptors center Jerome Moiso, a native of Paris, is like a good bottle of French wine in that he is taking his sweet time to mature.
Since arriving in the NBA, via UCLA and the French national team, Moiso has flirted with success, only to fall short of his vast athletic promise.
In four professional seasons, Moiso has played on as many NBA teams, starting in Boston, Charlotte, New Orleans and the Raptors. During that time, he has driven coaching staffs crazy. He is a great talent wrapped in the perfect basketball body -- tall, lean and very athletic. But a lack of killer instinct, inner drive or whatever, has prevented Moiso from reaching the status as an upper echelon NBA centre.
Last year, Moiso drove Raptors head coach Kevin O'Neill bananas. Some games, including back-to-back double-double outings, he looked great. But often Moiso seemed indifferent on the court, and was regularly pushed around in the paint. O'Neill responded by nailing him to the bench.
And so, with that baggage, Moiso arrived at his fifth NBA training camp this week, facing the same question he has at previous camps: Will this be your breakthrough season?
Moiso, who averaged 2.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 11.9 minutes last season, hopes it will be as he took some extraordinary steps during off-season to improve his game, including packing on some much-needed weight and strength.
"I had a (private) cook bring me five or six meals a day. I told strength coach (Shaun Brown) that I wanted to be able to play at 255 this season, but I got carried away, I got up to 267," the personable Frenchman said with a laugh. "But it worked out really well. Now I just have to lose a few and get a flow in my game."
Moiso carried about 235 pounds on his 6-foot-10 frame last year and his goal is to remain about 20 pounds heavier than that this season in an effort to be able to go head-to-head against some of the big, strong centres in the NBA.
As far as his apparent indifference on the court, Moiso is hopeful that playing under an uptempo style brought in by new coach Sam Mitchell will suit him to a T.
Vince Carter may still want to be traded, but you would never know it from his demeanour on the court at camp. Carter is constantly smiling and cheering and wrestling with his teammates.
Raptors GM Rob Babcock said he will make sure that rookie forward Matt Bonner, who has missed a couple of practice sessions with a sore right knee, will get a fair chance to show the Raptors what he can do.