Toronto Raptors: Grading the 2011-2012 Season
The Toronto Raptors had a very successful season in many fans' eyes. They surpassed last season's win total by one in 16 fewer games, and that is a huge plus speaking for itself.
The defense was greatly improved, and although the offense took a huge step back, it was still a great year, and all that will be analyzed later on.
Some players such as Justin Dentmon and Anthony Carter are not included in this analysis simply because they did not play a lot of games for the team.
Solomon Alabi, Alan Anderson, Ben Uzoh
These three Raptors have not played that many games for the Raptors, but they have had their fair share of minutes, especially against the New Jersey Nets.
All three players have great abilities. Alan Anderson is a player who can bring energy and scoring; Solomon Alabi is a player who crashes the board with all his might; and Ben Uzoh is a point guard who can do almost everything on the court.
If the Raptors are smart, they will keep all three players, and all three can be key players. Should they be given significant minutes, they will produce.
Expectations: Not Met
Rasual Butler was brought in by the Raptors to be a legitimate threat from beyond the arc. That is not what Butler did this season.
Butler shot a very low percentage this year (30.8) from the field and 27.3 percent from beyond the arc.
He was eventually waived and has not been signed by an NBA team since. A bad season for the shooter.
Coming into the season, Aaron Gray was signed by Bryan Colangelo to be an effective rebounder for the team. Many times this year, Gray looked like the only player going after rebounds; other nights he did not really show up.
When he was on his game, Gray played very well. He grabbed a lot of rebounds, and even if he did not grab the rebound, he made sure the other player did not get an easy board.
His somewhat inconsistent play made him move in and out of the starting lineup, but overall he had a good season and reached expectations.
Next year should be better for him.
Expectations: Somewhat Passed
After ending last season on a very strong note, expectations for Jerryd Bayless were higher than previous seasons. Most Raptor fans expected him to be a 13 PPG guy off the bench to add depth; others thought he could be the starting PG of the future.
Bayless had a somewhat inconsistent season when it comes to mind. Coming off the bench, there were nights he shot lights out and made smart plays, but other days things did not go his way.
As a starter Bayless excelled, but injuries were the reason why he may not be able to get the starting job in the future.
Should the Raptors bring Bayless back and he stay healthy, he can be the explosive offense off the bench that Toronto needs.
Expectations: Somewhat Met
Amir Johnson was not expected to be a double-double player or to be elite in any way, but they expected more than what he gave to the Raptors this season.
The main reason expectations were higher than what they should have been is because of his current contract, which gave him $5.5 million this year.
One thing that was very nice about Johnson was his will to hustle and play defense. He had the ability to change the direction of shots, not only by blocking them, but by being a presence in the paint.
Expectations: Not Met
After Ed Davis averaged seven points and seven rebounds in his rookie season and lead the Raptors in double-doubles, many fans believed Davis could be a double-double guy in his sophomore season.
Davis started off the season very slowly and heated up later on in the year. He played mostly inconsistent basketball until around March, which was when he started to heat up.
He was grabbing 10 or more rebounds a game for almost all of April, and that is what expectations were. Hopefully, next season he can play the entire season the way he ended this one.
Gary Forbes was brought in from the Denver Nuggets to be a role player off the bench. Throughout the season, he slowly brought the amount of time he was in the game up and played pretty consistently for the Raptors.
He even got a stint as a starter when Demar DeRozan went down for a while, a time during which he played very good basketball.
This upcoming season, Forbes' game should be improved and more confident, and he will be a key player coming off the bench.
No one expected Linas Kleiza to come out and to score a bunch of points off the bench every single game. There were some games when things were going his way, and other days when he was excelling.
He was the most consistent shooter for the Raptors and was a legitimate three-point threat off the bench.
The same things are expected for next season from Kleiza—nothing more, nothing less other than being a bigger leader on this young team.
Now you might be thinking, a B+ for a player who barely played any minutes and barely did anything on the court?
Jamaal Magloire was never brought in by Bryan Colangelo to do any of that. Magloire was brought in to be a leader on this young team, and he has definitely been one.
You can easily see Magloire constantly talking on the bench to his teammates as well as during timeouts, being the leader we expected him to be.
Colangelo wants him back for next year, and it is completely understandable why.
James Johnson (Most Improved Player)
Coming out of college, James Johnson was known as a great defensive player who was very athletic and could develop into a very good player.
In Chicago, he never really showcased those skills, but in Toronto, he has played very good basketball.
This season, he was arguably the Raptors' best defender. His stats (1.4 BPG, 1.2 SPG) show that he was a good shot-blocker and good with his hands, but the stats don't show that he was a very good on- and off-ball defender.
He has improved every year since joining the NBA, and next year will be the next step in Johnson's career.
Expectations: Met, but Not 100 Percent
Andrea Bargnani took the role as the premier scoring option once again this year, and he fulfilled those requirements. Although he scored less than last season, he had injuries bringing him down for most of the year.
Bargnani's on- and off-ball defense vastly improved under Dwane Casey, although the stats don't show it. The one thing that stats do show is rebounding.
Bargnani once again became a laughing stock of NBA big men. When you hear about a big man, you are expecting someone who can pull in at least eight rebounds per game, seven at the lowest, but Bargnani was once again unable to reach that mark.
He can easily grab those rebounds by just putting some effort into crashing the boards, but why he does not do it, nobody knows except for himself.
Expectations: Met, but Not 100 Percent
Entering this season, DeMar DeRozan was expected to evolve into one of the bigger leaders on this team. He somewhat became that leader the Raptors want him to be, but not quite yet.
Many fans also expected DeRozan to put up 20+ PPG since he would have a bigger offensive role based on his performance last season, but this season was much like last. DeRozan started off slow and played much better after the All-Star break.
His shooting and defense improved, but once again, expectations are going to be high for DeRozan, and although not the most consistent, he was one of the top players for the team.
Jose Calderon (MVP)
Jose Calderon was the best player this season for the Raptors.
He was the most consistent starter and the player who made everyone around him better.
Although we all wish that Calderon could have been a little more aggressive with the ball on offense, he was a great passer, and he was once again in the top five for APG, despite being on one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA.
He led the league in assist-turnover ratio, which is a very important but overlooked stat for point guards.
The Raptors would not have played the way they did without Calderon, and it was clear he was very important to this team.
His defense is still shaky, but he has the right to be called the Raptors' best player this season.
Dwane Casey and Bryan Colangelo
When Bryan Colangelo brought in Dwane Casey to be the new head coach of the Toronto Raptors, it was obvious they would become a better defensive team. What no one thought was that the Raptors would be the ninth-best defensive team in terms of points allowed.
Casey toughened up every player on the roster and made sure they were more focused on defense as apposed to anything else, and it worked.
Colangelo has made sure Toronto has a bright future. Despite his trading of Leandro Barbosa to an Eastern Conference opponent, it was a good move that gave the Raptors a second-round pick and cleared $8 million off the cap, giving the team flexibility for offseason moves.
This upcoming draft is another big step in the rebuilding of the Raptors, and Colangelo has some tough work ahead of him this summer.
The Toronto Raptors
Long story short, the Raptors won the same amount of games this season compared to last season. Last season they played 82 games, and this year they played 16 less. Had it been a full season, the Raptors could have expected a record close to 28-54.
This team is still very young and has potential waiting to be reached. With the upcoming draft and off-season, the Raptors can add pieces towards the future.
They did not win a lot of games, but they proved they are getting better slowly.
The 2012-2013 season is probably the season that most Raptor fans have been the most anxious for.