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To a lot of people, this is a shocking pick. But if you really look at this Toronto Raptor team, they are one piece away from the playoffs. I expect them to get this missing piece and slip into the playoffs next year.
Toronto was unable to capitalize on their offensive pieces, which is why they finished 28th in points per game. This was probably due in part to a shortened season and an inability to have chemistry. Jose Calderon is a great facilitator (nine assists per game), and he creates opportunities for his teammates while putting in his own contributions (11 points per game).
When power forward Andrea Bargnani is healthy, that brings tremendous help to the offense. He poured in almost 20 points and five rebounds per game for the Raptors before he went down with a calf injury. With him back on the court, Toronto's offense gets a much-needed boost.
One bright spot for the Raptors was their defense, which improved from the 26th-ranked defense (105.4 points per game) to the ninth-ranked defense (94 points per game)—not really because of one guy, but a balanced effort by everybody.
That is the beauty of this Toronto team: There isn't exactly a superstar, but talent spread out across the floor.
Next season, Toronto will also have their 2011 draft pick Jonas Valanciunas available, after spending a season in Lithuania, where he won the FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year award. After witnessing what Ricky Rubio did this year, I am betting that Jonas explodes onto the national scene with the Raptors next year.
The Raptors are also looking for a small forward that can hopefully shoot the three. This can easily be addressed in the draft, where guys like Harrison Barnes are being looked at.
I know I am betting a lot on things that aren't guaranteed, but I really do like the way this Toronto team looks. If they can capitalize on at least two out of three (draft good big men, Valanciunas has a good year, draft a small forward) they can back into the playoffs next season.