Silver Linings from Toronto Raptors' Disappointing Season
The Toronto Raptors had a disappointing season, but it's no time to be negative. The organization needs to look at the basketball as half-full and try and find the silver lining in the 2012-13 season.
Please overlook the whole basketball half-full thing.
There's no real positive way to look at having a disappointing season. The end result of your thought process will generally fall back to what went wrong and the fact that it still has been a bad year.
Still though, the beauty of the end of the year means the opportunity for new hope, and that's an opportunity that Raptors fans need to be thankful for.
Let's take a look at some of the silver linings from Toronto's rough season.
Being young has its advantages in the game of basketball. Young players still have their athleticism, take a fresh feel to the game and generally have room for improvement.
Toronto has a team full of them.
All of those numbers mean that the Raptors are in position to grow as a unit. They are not the youngest team in the league, but there isn't any need to be. The fact is that they have players with the ability to grow, and that's a beautiful thing for the future.
Toronto Might Have a Legitimate Center
The Raptors selected Jonas Valanciunas with the fifth pick in the 2011 draft. Being patient and waiting for a year has given the 6'11", 231-pound center a chance to move away from European basketball and focus on the faster and more physical NBA game.
It turns out that he's done a bit more than just focus.
The man finally got the opportunity for consistent minutes and has made the most of it. Valanciunas went through a stretch in late-March and early April where he scored in double-figures for 12 straight games, including a respectable number of rebounds and blocks.
It's way too early to know if Toronto has a solid center or career-backup, but his successful rookie campaign is promising.
The Andrea Bargnani Saga Is Finally over
Andrea Bargnani has had a roller coaster of a career with the Raptors, and it's finally about to come to an end.
Bargnani is scheduled to make $10.7 million next year and the two parties couldn't be further away from similar mindsets. The next step is for Toronto to find a way to get rid of him.
There are only two options at this point: Find a trade or amnesty him.
The Raptors have yet to use their one amnesty clause that would take any player off their books and open up salary room by releasing them. To be honest, that sounds like a better option at this point because Toronto is going to struggle with finding any team willing to take on him or his contract.
Either way, the saga is over and Raptors fans can rest easy.
Rudy Gay's Acquisition
Rudy Gay's acquisition didn't exactly change the face of the franchise overnight, but it has the potential to take that step in the future.
For now, Gay has done his part in finding a spot with the Raptors.
Writer for Toronto's National Post Erik Koreen, heard from Gay following their victory over the Brooklyn Nets on April 14, 2013. Gay understands what playing together over the summer and into next season means:
It’s never easy. It’s up and down. You don’t really realize how much a training camp will help you until you go without being with your team during it.
We'll have to wait until next year to be sure, but let's stay positive for the moment.
He could have a huge impact on Toronto next year, and just getting him was crucial in this past season.
Hard Work Took over for Good Basketball at Times
The title of this slide probably makes no sense, however, it couldn't be more true. There are times when the Raptors played with more passion and energy than actual basketball skill.
Doesn't sound like a good thing does it?
Well, the silver lining within this silver lining is that you can't teach hard work or a solid work ethic. Those are innate and have to come from within the body and mind from those playing the game. There is no price to pay for passion, it just happens or doesn't.
Kyle Lowry is probably one of the most passionate players on the Raptors. There are times when he plays too fast or doesn't think straight because of how hard he's working. Those moments lead to poor decisions and plays that can make you scratch your head, but he does it all with a fire that can't be taught.
Forgetting to play good basketball is not a good thing. There is a level that needs to be kept, but it's possible to eventually get there. Developing better basketball skills—both individually and team-based—takes time, yet it's still possible.
Interestingly enough, it can be done by working hard.
Exactly what Toronto is already good at.