Heading into the final year of his contract and with a new management team to answer to, Dwayne Casey’s tenuous future in Toronto will likely come down to the play of three wing players: Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross.
Gay has seen his three-point shooting plummet from his career high (39.6 per cent) in 2010-11 to 32.3 per cent last season. The Raptors forward had off-season eye surgery to correct an astigmatism, and Casey is hoping this will help his star forward rediscover his outside shot.
“If you look at his career, it has steadily gone down,” Casey told the Sporting News’ Sean Deveney. “He has complained about his eyes, he tried to wear goggles, and that didn’t work. He is supposed to be wearing contacts, and he didn’t like the contacts, he didn’t like having anything on his eyes. So they elected to do the surgery. I am keeping my fingers crossed. For some players, they get that done and it is like seeing a new rim. Hopefully, the same thing happens with him.”
Many believe that the outside combo of Gay and DeRozan is doomed to fail as neither has the ability to stretch the floor from long range. While Gay was bad from beyond the arc, DeRozan was terrible (28.3 percent), especially for a player whose position has the word ‘shoot’ in the title.
"He worked on it, we worked on it with him all summer," Casey said. "Getting the right lift into his shot, being consistent with it, we worked on that. That's been the big next step for him, bringing his game past the 3-point line. That alone will do a lot for him. I thought he got better at making decisions out of the post, making plays out of the post if they double-team, he did a good job reading those situations."
While that may be true, DeRozan is heading into his fifth year in the Association and while we have seen steady improvement in his shooting over the past couple of seasons, Casey may need to play second-year shooting guard Terrence Ross more for practical reasons.
"He probably has the most upside of all our guys from a potential standpoint," Casey said of Ross.
While Casey acknowledged Ross' potential, the old-school coach will not reward him with minutes based on potential alone. The Raptors coach is looking for more consistency from the sophomore forward.
"The talent is there," Casey said. "There is not a better athlete in the NBA than Terrence Ross. But just, bringing it on a consistent basis is his own personal challenge. We pushed him as a coaching staff and work with him till the cows come home, but until he makes up his mind mentally that he is going to exert that same athleticism and effort on both ends of the floor, that's when he will make the next step. … He has been working with a shooting coach this summer, trying to get that consistent, working on his shot. His ballhandling, his defense in pick-and-roll situations, he has been working on that all summer."