Raptors are a work in progress

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:56 PM ET

TORONTO - Normally the 20-game mark, which the Raptors will reach Sunday, is a good time to take stock of a team and see who they are and what they’re capable of doing.

Normally, that is the case, but not with the Toronto Raptors.

Asked to assess his team as it approaches the quarter-pole of the season, head coach Jay Triano called the Raptors a work in progress.

And really, what else could he say? The team has just shipped out three bodies, brought in two new ones and recently learned that the conscience of the team — yes, we’re talking about Reggie Evans — would be out for another seven weeks or so.

“We have showed a lot of real positive signs,” Triano said. “When you look at the teams we have beaten (Orlando, Boston, Oklahoma City), we’ve beaten some very good teams and played with other good teams (Miami, L.A. Lakers, Portland). I think that shows where we can be.”

But what Triano doesn’t know yet is whether this is a team that is both willing and able to play with the kind of effort that got them huge upsets in Orlando and against Boston with any kind of consistency.

“We have a lot of young players and being able to do that over the course of 82 games or over a 10-game segment and not just three or four in the middle of that (segment) is going to be the challenge for this team.”

Triano was asked specifically if there were any disappointments at this stage in the season.

“No, not really,” he said. “I obviously would like to be able to shoot the ball a lot better. I think our offensive production was probably a little bit higher last season but it’s starting to come. It’s guys becoming more familiar with each other. Two of our main scorers are (Leandro) Barbosa and (Linas) Kleiza and they were not here last year. I think those are the two guys that can score off the bench.”

As a team, the Raptors are shooting just over 46% and sit 12th in the NBA. Last season they shot just over 48% and were sixth overall.

But riding a two-game winning streak and having won six of their past eight, Triano says he is seeing a lot of encouraging signs.

“I’m happy with where Kleiza is this week, a lot more than I was a week ago,” Triano said. “I think he is starting to come. That’s me getting to know him a little bit too. His production in different games is going to be based on matchups and what we have and whether he is going to be a (small forward) or (power forward). To be fair to him, we have had him all over the map. It’s what we have asked him to do and he’s willing and capable.”

Through 19 games last year, the Raps were actually a full game worse than they are now. A win over the Knicks today and they will be two ahead of last year’s pace.


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