Ball Don't Lie

Finally working with a guaranteed home and role, John Lucas III wins over the Toronto Raptors

Ball Don't Lie

View gallery

.

John Lucas looks to please (Getty Images)

A lot of people know John Lucas III as the guy who filled in for Derrick Rose for the Bulls last season. Others remember him for being the guy LeBron jumped over last winter in a vicious in-game dunk. Some know him as his father's son and many shrug their shoulders at the undersized point guard that they feel shoots too much.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey knows him as the spark plug off of his bench and already considers him to be an important part of the team. After a recent preseason victory against the Detroit Pistons, he was asked about what Lucas brings to the table and didn't attempt to temper his praise.

"John is…I love John," Casey said. "[...] he's the spirit of our team, the fiber of our team. He stands for everything right on the basketball floor. He's going to be a heck of a coach we'll see when he gets out of basketball and retires. He's a scorer. He's a born scorer."

Strong words from a coach after just three preseason games, but this is the way Lucas makes people feel about him. He's a charismatic locker room leader already, pulling younger guys aside and teaching them how to take criticism from the coaching staff while not taking the negatives to heart. Similarly, he'll pull reporters aside to answer their questions, and then after giving a smile, will wait for the recorders to be turned off so he can share some hilarious story from a career path that has taken him from the NBA to the D-League to Italy, Spain and China before returning to play for the Bulls last season.

It's easy to see why his teammates love him, even if he is the point guard who'll hoist up three shots in his first four minutes of being on the floor like he did in the Raptors' recent victory against the Wizards. He makes basketball more fun. If he continues to make his 3-pointers, he will also make the Raptors a better -- and deeper -- team this season.

When informed of the praise his coach had given him, Lucas said that the two have built a good relationship thus far.

"I just come in and play with my heart," Lucas said. "I don't care if I play five minutes, 10 minutes, I'm always into the game. I'm always tuned in. I'm just about winning. I think that's what coach likes about me. I don't care about my stats, I don't care if I had this many points, that many points. My whole thing is about winning. I want to get to the postseason. That's my mentality. I've always been like that. Losing is not an option for me."

View gallery

.

Lucas saved the Bulls numerous times in 2011-12 (Getty Images)

For Toronto fans who often value effort as much as output (witness Reggie Evans having an entire arena chanting his name when he made a comeback from injury two seasons ago), Lucas is a player that appears to be a solid fit for becoming a fan favorite. In addition to leaving it all on the court, it's easy to see that the long and winding basketball journey he's had keeps him very appreciative of his opportunity to play in the NBA.

"I feel like you should always go as hard as you can because you've got fans that are paying to come watch you play and you're going to your job," Lucas said. "You can't disrespect your job. At the end of the day you have to go out there and play your heart out, not just for you, it's for you because of your pride, but also for the organization and your team and most importantly for the fans who support you. You should never let them down."

For Toronto fans already excited about the energy that rookie Jonas Valanciunas brings to the table, Lucas only gives another reason to enjoy tuning in to Raptors games this year. After plenty of dark moments in recent years, it's nice to see a fan base get rewarded with vibrant personalities that are easy to root for both on and off the court.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Jameis Winston's elementary school appearance marred by misstep

      Jameis Winston's elementary school appearance marred by misstep

      Since being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, quarterback Jameis Winston has been making an effort to rehab his public image. After a career at Florida State that was marred by a rape allegation, accusations of stealing crab legs from a … More »

      Shutdown Corner - 25 minutes ago
    • Mark Buehrle's No. 56 will be retired by White Sox

      Mark Buehrle's No. 56 will be retired by White Sox

      Nobody has worn No. 56 for the Chicago White Sox since Mark Buehrle left the team in 2011 and now nobody ever will. The White Sox announced Thursday that they’ll retire No. 56 this season in honor of Buehrle, who played 12 seasons on the South … More »

      Big League Stew - 45 minutes ago
    • Can Bruce Cassidy unlock Boston Bruins' creativity?

      Can Bruce Cassidy unlock Boston Bruins' creativity?

      Boston Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t see any major systematic issues with the team when he took over on Feb. 7 for fired former bench boss Claude Julien. “I think the Xs and Os were solid here, that’s been proven,” Cassidy said. What … More »

      Puck Daddy - 51 minutes ago
    • Charles Oakley is going to a Knicks game again, just not in New York

      Charles Oakley is going to a Knicks game again, just not in New York

      Charles Oakley reportedly plans to attend another New York Knicks game this season, but it’s not exactly an omen that the cold war between the bruising forward and his former team is thawing. Oakley won’t attend Madison Square Garden again anytime … More »

      Ball Don't Lie - 57 minutes ago
    • World Baseball Classic 2017: Boycott hurts Chinese Taipei's chances

      World Baseball Classic 2017: Boycott hurts Chinese Taipei's chances

      From now until the World Baseball Classic begins on March 6, we’ll be helping you get to know each team involved in baseball’s global tournament. Today’s team: Chinese Taipei. The team from Chinese Taipei had high expectations when they competed in … More »

      Big League Stew - 1 hour 14 minutes ago