Raptors' GM hit a home run acquiring Bayless

Toronto Raptors guard Jerryd Bayless. (REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

Toronto Raptors guard Jerryd Bayless. (REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:11 AM ET

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — In desperate need of a home run after a series of ambitious, but ultimately massive, flops on the trade and free-agent market, Bryan Colangelo appears to have belted one out of the park with the acquisition of Jerryd Bayless.

Sure, it is early and Jarrett Jack was a solid player for the Raptors, but through 10 games with the team it has become clear that Bayless has brought many aspects that were sorely lacking.

Bayless was exceptional in Toronto’s stunning comeback from 25 points down in Detroit on Saturday night. After committing three of the Raptors’ 14 first-half turnovers, Bayless settled down to finish with 31 points, seven assists and five rebounds on 10-for-12 shooting from both the field and the line.

More than the stats, though, was the attitude and energy that Bayless displayed.

It has been a long time since the team has had a player with Bayless’ blend of talent, swagger, desire to get to the basket and supreme confidence in his play.

The lack of a player who could break down defences and finish inside had been a glaring weakness for many years.

Bayless puts opponents on their heels and uses his deceptive strength and athleticism to finish strong.

While his decision-making remains a work in progress — he was poor Friday night against Denver and his shooting will likely come back down to Earth — it is already clear that adding Bayless was a coup for the beleaguered Colangelo.

Bayless is averaging 12.3 points, 4.0 assists and 3.6 rebounds on 45.8% shooting (50% from three) as a Raptor in just 21 minutes per game.

Bayless had made just 39 career three-pointers before joining the Raptors, but has already nailed 13 for the team, adding another dimension to a game that has largely been of the drive-and-finish or drive-and-kick variety.

The former Arizona star has carried a chip on his shoulder since slipping in the 2008 draft to No. 11 after being expected to go in the 4-7 range.

That drop and receiving up-and-down minutes in Portland and later New Orleans clearly didn’t cause young Bayless to second-guess his abilities.

“Confidence, well that’s never been a big issue for me; I’ve always got a lot of confidence,” Bayless said after the victory over the Pistons, when asked whether his performance will buoy him.

“(The comeback) is more a team thing. Now we know we can do it.”

Point guards are supposed to lead their teams and just a few weeks in, Bayless is already doing his part.

He was one of the most vocal players in the locker room at the half and let his teammates know everybody could do a lot better.

“The thing was, we weren’t communicating (on defence) and when you don’t communicate, it’s tough,” Bayless said.

“I wasn’t talking, it was the whole team. At halftime we were able to figure it out and make stops. I know when we talk we’re good, that’s what I said (in the room), that we can beat this team.”

After misfiring on trades for Jermaine O’Neal and Shawn Marion and the Hedo Turkoglu disaster, Colangelo has rallied with the drafting of Ed Davis at 13, the Leandro-Barbosa-for-Turkoglu heist and the acquisition of Bayless.

The run will continue if he is able to flip the Chris Bosh trade exception and/or Peja Stojakovic’s expiring contract for valuable assets or a standout player.

The Barbosa/Bayless backcourt has been very strong for the Raptors and odds are Jay Triano trots it out far more often from here on in.

‘I like it when they are both on the court at the same time: That takes the pressure off either one of them to have to make plays all the time,” Triano said, adding both players are very good on the screen-and-roll, which helps the offence run effectively.

“We know each other well already,” Barbosa said of his chemistry with Bayless.

“Bayless did a great job.”

Perhaps most promising of all for the Raptors is the fact that Bayless is just 22 years old.


Videos

Photos