With a new management team in place and the addition of a couple of key role players, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey is hopeful his team can make the jump into a playoff position in 2013-14. Speaking on TSN 1050's Macko & Cauz show on Tuesday, the third-year bench boss is excited to see how his new pieces blend with the team's young core.
“We needed toughness inside to go along with Jonas Valanciunas), Amir Johnson and Aaron Gray and we brought in Tyler Hansbrough, who I think our fans will be excited about.”
To go along with the former Pacers power forward, the team addressed its perimeter shooting need via the Andrea Bargnani deal and in free agency.
“We needed three-point shooting and we got Steve Novak and Austin Daye, who is a young untapped talented player who has three-point shooting ability.”
Following a 17-32 start, the Raptors played the rest of the season one game over .500, in part because of a renewed emphasis on the defensive end.
“We will get back to defence and let the offence take care of itself,” Casey said. “I thought Masai (Ujiri), Jeff (Weltman) and our management team did an excellent job of bringing in the type of players that will fit our needs.”
Still, the team finished four games out of a playoff spot and new president and CEO Tim Leiweke decided to make a change in the basketball operations department, replacing former GM Bryan Colanagelo with Ujiri.
Casey said Ujiri and Leiweke operate differently than Coloangelo in that the former GM took a more hands-on approach than the current structure.
“Bryan's management style is more hands on. He's there every day, he's involved…There's nothing wrong with that, it's just a different management style.”
Casey is confident where the team is headed, but noted that the expectation of a playoff spot last season may have been too unrealistic.
“I thought we put the cart before the horse last year in talking about the playoffs too soon, we were still building…Adding Rudy, adding some of the pieces we have now, we've accelerated that building.”
Casey mentioned that while the team is positioned to make a playoff push this season, the overall focus is still on growing and developing the talented core they have in place.
“We have good young talent that's getting better, but at the same time we want to win. We owe it to our fans, we owe it to our organization to put our best foot forward and go out to compete to win.”