Team Name: Toronto Raptors
Last Year’s Record: 40-42
Key Losses: Chris Bosh, Hedo Turkoglu, Marco Belinelli, Antoine Wright, Rasho Nesterovic, Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Patrick O’Bryant.
Key Additions: Ed Davis, Linas Kleiza, Leandro Barbosa, Julian Wright, Solomon Alabi and David Anderson.
1. What significant moves were made during the off-season?
The biggest move of the summer saw the greatest player in the history of the franchise go to Miami in exchange for a trade exception and a couple draft picks.
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Sure, Linas Kleiza is having a great summer playing for Lithuania in the World Championships and Ed Davis showed flashes of his potential in Las Vegas, but the reality is the team lost two marquee players – yes, Hedo Turkoglu counts because he was paid like one and was a central piece of an NBA team that went to the NBA Finals in 2009 – and all they have to show for those two losses so far is Leandro Barbosa.
There’s still hope that Bryan Colangelo can work some magic during the season and cash in that trade exception to a team hoping to shed some salary, but unless that happens this team is in rough shape.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
One thing the team has going for it is it’s youth.
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The team has an impressive core in Jarrett Jack, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis, Sonny Weems and Linas Kleiza that are all under the age of 26.
If Colangelo is able to give these players a couple seasons to grow together while continuing to add talented pieces then the future looks bright.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
The team is going to get torched in the paint and on the glass this season.
Last year the team averaged 40.4 rebounds per game and Bosh averaged 10.8 of those rebounds.
With over a quarter of those rebounds up for grabs it makes sense that Johnson, Bargnani and Davis will step in and gobble up the extra rebounds. However, that is far from being guaranteed as the numbers from last season don’t back up that assumption. In the seven games Bosh missed at the end of the season, Davis saw his rebounding numbers stagnate (4.8) instead of increase. Even more troubling is the fact those numbers were inflated due to two games which saw him snag double-figure rebounds. The scary part is in three of those seven games Johnson only managed to grab two rebounds.
Last season Toronto allowed teams to shoot 46.8% from the field and I can’t help but think that number will rise as opposing teams bully the slender Bargnani, Johnson and Davis around in the post. Toronto’s post players will routinely struggle to keep players like Yao Ming, Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol from sealing their spot on the low block.
While glancing at the teams roster I can’t help but think Toronto needs a gritty post player to compliment Bargnani, Johnson and Davis.
Sorry, Reggie Evans isn’t the answer here either.
4. What are the goals for this team?
I think all that fans are looking for this season is for the team to compete hard every night.
Johnson and Evans became a fan favorites last season due to their “hockey mentality” on the court and if the rest of the team can adopt a similar mentality the fans will be able to cheer for this team.
In regards to wins and losses, I would be happy if the team is able to pick up more wins than the Nets did last season.
5. Crash and burn, baby!
Last season I was misguided and believed the team would flirt with 50 wins. This year? I’m under no such misguided illusions. If anything, I’ve become overly pessimistic about Raptors’ chances.
Just how bad will the Raptors be? I think they’ll do worse than the New Jersey Nets did last season.
Last year the Nets had a great center in Brook Lopez and a point guard in Devin Harris who was an All-Star the previous season. Sprinkled in were some nice young player and a bunch of solid role players.
Sure, Harris was banged up for most of the season, but they had some solid pieces that could scare teams.
What do the Raptors have?
Last season we saw when Bosh was lost due to an injury that Bargnani was hesitant to be the focal point of the offense. When opposing teams would double or triple-team him late in the season his facial expresions resembled that of a deers caught in headlights.
Sure, he posted some nice stats over the final few games of the season, but those were in games that didn’t mean anything as the teams season was already over.
Scoring also looks to be a problem as two of their top four scorers last season (Bosh and Turkoglu) have left the team. As strong as Kleiza as played this summer in the World Championships I don’t see him averaging more than 15 points a game this season.
Things have sunk so low in Toronto that Sonny Weems, a player who was a bubble guy on the roster heading into training camp last season, is now proclaiming he wants to be the known as the face of the franchise.
I think statement that alone shows just how far this franchise has fallen over the past few months