Graham vows big things

Joey Graham vowed yesterday that inconsistency no longer will rule his game. (File Photo)

Joey Graham vowed yesterday that inconsistency no longer will rule his game. (File Photo)

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

There were times last season when Raptors coach Sam Mitchell wanted to hug Joey Graham, and there were times when he wanted to strangle Joey Graham.

Often, Mitchell wanted to do both in the same game.

The dominant trait that has marked Graham's time during his two seasons in Toronto has been inconsistency.

Late in the 2006-07 campaign, Graham was a force at the small forward position. In his last six games (Graham missed the final two games of the regular season with the flu), the second-year forward averaged 13.3 points and played well defensively. But he struggled in the playoffs.

Graham often followed a solid performance during the regular season with an indifferent one and that drove Mitchell around the bend, as there is no more athletic player on the roster. More than that, Graham clearly demonstrated in a handful of games that he has more than ample ability to play regularly in the NBA.

But it seems a light has gone on. Graham vowed yesterday that inconsistency no longer will rule his game. Unlike the summer following his rookie season (2005-06), the former Oklahoma State star said that he is not going to take any time off this summer from training and, more importantly, from playing basketball.

Graham, 25, acknowledged he is getting sick and tired of hearing about how much potential he has, as he realizes potential will go only so far in the NBA and that this is a key year in terms of whether he establishes himself or if he falls back to another level.

"I think this could be the break-out season for me and I'm very optimistic heading towards training camp," said Graham, who was present for the unveiling of a Habitat for Humanity housing project in Scarborough yesterday.

"I want to sustain how I finished off this (past) season. I felt at a certain point, halfway through the season, that I started to pick up my intensity and level of play. So I'd like to carry that over and progress to beyond the level I finished up with."

Graham never has had a problem with fitness. What he needs is to play the game, and that is what he has been doing so far this off-season.

"I'm playing instead of just drilling and drilling, because you can drill until your head falls off," Graham said. "I'm trying to learn and study the game a bit more."

The Raptors are holding a free-agent camp in Toronto this weekend and Stephen Graham, Joey's twin brother, has been invited, as have Canadian team players Denham Brown of Toronto and Carl English of Newfoundland.


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