If you’re a Raptors fan, then, even with the Instant Parity that the new CBA will somehow magically provide, this season is going to have its fair share of headaches. If you can head to a great Canadian Pharmacy, I’m sure you can get some good Canadian Tylenol or whatever they have there with the socialist health care thing going on.
There are some positives about the new season for the Raptors, though: 1) They can play some games and see who they want to use their amnesty clause on (*cough*bargnani*cough*), 2) they get to play themselves into another high draft pick, 3) they get to see if anyone wants to go to Toronto as a free agent.
Point Guard: Jose Calderon, Jerryd Bayless
Shooting Guard: DeMar DeRozan, Leandro Barbosa
Small Forward: Linas Kleiza, James Johnson, DeMar DeRozan
Power Forward: Amir Johnson, Ed Davis
Center: Andrea Bargnani, Ed Davis, Soloman Alabi,
Jose Calderon should continue his 10 and 9 averages for as long as he stays healthy. He’s only played 68 games each of the past three seasons, so the 66-game season should work out really well for him. Keep a close eye on him though, because if he misses any time, backup PG Jerryd Bayless will go from 18-20 minutes per game right up to 35-40 (he did it at the end of the year in 2011 when Calderon decided to take a vacation the last few games).
DeMar DeRozan is probably one of the “stars” on this team, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be a fantasy star. Just like last year, DeRozan will probably carry a lot of the scoring load and play big minutes at the 2-guard. But even with his 46+ field goal percentage, his other stats are only enough to sneak him in to the end of a standard league draft. His backup, Barbosa, is actually more efficient in most categories (per 36 minutes), but he’s only got 1 year left on his contract and 6 more years on his birth certificate.
I think the real debate at Forward is if Linas Kleiza will be the amnesty victim in place of Andrea Bargnani. I tried looking to see if there’s a deadline for making the amnesty selections, but nobody really wanted to clear that up for me, so I can only guess from the way that people are talking about it, that it has to be done soon, but not too soon. Of course, Calderon and Amir Johnson aren’t bad amnesty candidates either, but I think Bargnani should be the top choice if he doesn’t get his game together this season.
With only Kleiza and James Johnson around at Small Forward, they’ll both probably be about as mediocre as they ended up last year, putting them in the low 200′s on the Player Rater. That cuts them from contention in a standard size fantasy league, and means for leagues with a team size of 13, you’ll have to have 15+ teams in order to consider them.
So while the SF will be manned by a couple of guys who’ll give you 6 good fantasy games out of 66, Amir Johnson and Ed Davis are both pretty decent players for the PF position. Johnson used an increase in minutes to boost his scoring, rebounding, and blocks while maintaining a nice FG% and threw in a huge improvement in his FT% to land at #89 on the player rater. The only downside (and it’s kind of a big one) is that he’ll be splitting time – perhaps even more evenly than James Johnson and Kleiza – with Ed Davis. Davis will get a bit of extra time at Center, which will mean slightly more than 24 minutes for Amir, but not enough to put him any higher on the rater than #89. He’s also a bit of a time bomb of a player, in that in order to get to his 9 point, 7 rebound average, he’ll combine a 3 point, 2 rebound “ticking” game with an 18 point, 12 rebound “explosion.” Because of the shortened season, you also lose a little bit of Amir’s fantasy value that comes with his sturdiness. I.e., there’s no advantage to taking him over someone else who played 66 games last year like there might be if we were looking at an 82-game season where Amir would probably play 72-82 games. Of course, nothing is guaranteed, but any fantasy draft is just a series of educated guesses.
It’s Hit It or Quit It time for Andrea Bargnani. It’s not that he’s a bad player, it’s just that the Raptors have put in 5 years and millions of dollars with the hope that he would be a franchise player a la Dirk Nowitzki. Given that he could be facing an amnesty style execution, this year might be a good year to stake a little more on his statistical output. If he’s not trying his hardest to make his numbers worthy of his upcoming salary, then the Raptors are in more trouble than your fantasy team will be.
Somehow, Jonas Valanciunas is listed on the depth chart for the Raptors even though last time I checked (in our draft analysis), and a month and a half delay isn’t going to make a difference where a European contract buyout is concerned.
Fantasy Draft Recommendations (Updated 11/27)
Andrea Bargnani – 5th/6th Round
Jose Calderon – 6th Round
Amir Johnson – 7th Round
Ed Davis – 12th/13th Round
DeMar DeRozan – 12th/13th Round
Jerryd Bayless – Waiver Wire Watch
Leandro Barbosa – Waiver Wire Watch