Greetings from Dallas! Watch the Raptors take on the Mavericks tonight on TSN. Hopefully a better performance compared to the Raptors showing in Oklahoma City on Tuesday. Here's a few quick thoughts on Kyle Lowry, Damian Lilliard, Serge Ibaka, Mario Chalmers and Derrick Williams.
1. Kyle Lowry's Injury: No word on the prognosis yet but needless to say, any time missed is a major blow to the development of this team. Difficult early schedule and you need your best guys in this stretch. He was playing terrific ball and the spotlight will now focus on Jose Calderon and John Lucas, who are both more than capable guys. Early season adversity for team and we'll find out a bunch about lots of guys in the coming days.
2. Damian Lilliard (Blazers): Have been impressed by the rookie so far. Quick and explosive and makes good reads in the screen and roll. A good two-man game pairing with LaMarcus Aldridge. Blazers very well might have gotten themselves a keeper at this spot. Lots of bumps in the road ahead for him for sure but I like what I've seen so far.
3. Serge Ibaka (Thunder): Looks so much more comfortable offensively than we've seen in the past. Incredible speed for a guy his size. His decisions and awareness are more advanced at this stage. Looks like he knows what works for him and how to go about it. Sign of maturity. Terrific physical talent and now the polish is starting to show. He is a guy who will battle on the glass and has good overall defensive instincts. Now the offence is starting to come around a bit.
4. Mario Chalmers (Heat): This guy has grown on me over the past few years. Love his drive and passion. Very confident and always brings energy. His ability to defend at the point is underrated at times. His shooting has improved and I love how he gets the pace going in the transition game. He accepts his role and does it well. He shows up every game and gives you his all.
5. Derrick Williams (T'Wolves): Still trying to figure out his role and position in the NBA. He was terrific at Arizona and I thought he'd find his way rather quickly. Hasn't happened yet. Bit of a tweener -- not really a 4 nor a 3 but has good scoring ability and overall skill. Is he a starter or strong second unit guy? The coming weeks/months will give Coach Rick Adelman and GM David Kahn a better sense of what needs to happen next with him. A lot to work with here; just have to put him in a role that brings out his best play.