The Toronto Raptors accomplished something last season what others thought was impossible. DeMar DeRozan, for one, knows that heading into the team’s training camp, they will get a fresh mandate.
DeRozan, who signed a hefty contract extension, feels the pressure but does not mind it at all. He knew the huge responsibility to duplicate their magical run last season that brought them to a Conference Finals appearance. It was the franchise first and hopefully, not the last.
But the Raptors do not burden themselves with the expectations coming from outside the team. They have to stick to their own goals and take it one game at a time. According to The Star, DeRozan explained that they should not dwell with the run that they had last year, instead they should focus on the goals ahead.
DeRozan added that teams in the East have bolstered their respective rosters making it a reality that they might not end up winning the same number of games as last year. However, DeRozan is optimistic that they could still make it to the postseason.
“We can’t get caught up in comparing us to last year. Everything doesn’t go as planned or as promised, but as long as you understand the goal that’s at the end of the road, that’s all we’re fighting for,” DeRozan said.
DeRozan’s teammate and Raptors’ guard Kyle Lowry stated that training camps are there for teams to work on their goals. Aside from that Lowry noted that camps build their character going to the long season.
“We’re going to go through ups, we’re going to go through downs, but at the end of the day, it’s the NBA season, it’s a marathon. We need to finish the regular season and from there, get to the playoffs and go from there,” Lowry added.
Meanwhile, team president Masai Ujiri acknowledges all of these and stated that what experts say about the team does not matter to them. To him, it is more of going out there and doing what they were able to do last season – win games. Ujiri notes that it’s not an easy climb but they will give it their best.
Aside from DeRozan and Lowry, the Raptors will heavy count also on their big men, namely Jared Sullinger, Jonas Valanciunas and Bismak Biyombo. Aside from that, their bench will also play an important role to keep opponents at bay.
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