Toronto Raptors: Can the Raptors Make a Push into the Playoffs Next Season?

Patrick YaghoobiansAnalyst IIMay 23, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 09:  Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the Toronto Raptors looks to shoot in front of DeAndre Jordan #6 of the Los Angeles Clippers during a 102-83 Clipper win at Staples Center on December 9, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Last season had its up and downs for the Toronto Raptors. They started off the season horribly. It seemed like Toronto might once again be one of the bottom-feeders of the Eastern Conference.

Right after Andrea Bargnani went down with an arm injury in a game against the Portland Trailblazers, the Raptors seemed to pick up the pace. With Ed Davis in the starting power forward slot, the Raptors now had two big men in Davis and Jonas Valanciunas who defended the paint, grabbed rebounds on both ends of the floor and made a couple of baskets here and there.

The Raptors seemed to be poised to make a push for the playoffs, as they were creeping up to the eighth spot, and things seemed to be going in the right direction.

Then, in a pretty unexpected move, the Raptors traded away longtime Raptor Jose Calderon and Ed Davis to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for one of the elite small forwards of the game in Rudy Gay. Gay finally gave the Raptors the small forward they were looking for.

Since the Gay trade, the Raptors were 18-18 to finish off the season, right at the .500 mark. If this were to happen throughout the whole season, so to speak, the Raptors would have been in the playoffs and probably would have given Miami a better run for their money than the Bucks did.

With Gay, the Raptors now have someone who can create his own shot, and although some of his shot selections are not the best, Rudy Gay can score. His defense is also above average, using his length and wingspan to guard opposing small forwards and, at times, power forwards.

The true result of the trade will be seen in the near future, but for the upcoming season, it looks like Bryan Colangelo made a smart move. The chemistry between Rudy and DeMar DeRozan got better as the season went on, and it seemed like they complemented each other very well near the end of the season.

With more chemistry under their belt, this young Raptors squad could definitely make the playoffs next season. DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas are still young and are key pieces to this team's future.

Terrence Ross may not end up being a starter with the acquisition of Gay, but he can be the sixth man who brings defense, athleticism and the three-point shot off the bench. Ross struggled last season, but he was only a rookie and is still learning the game at the NBA level.

With Bryan Colangelo no longer the general manager, all Raptor fans are wondering what the new general manager may do in order to improve this team. 

They don't have much cap space, so free agents are not going to solve anything in the near future, and they have no picks in this draft, so the one thing Raptor fans can lean on is chemistry, hoping this team learns to work with each other in order to make a push for the playoffs.

It is safe to say this upcoming season may be the most exciting one, and it will definitely come with huge expectations. The playoffs aren't guaranteed, but this Raptors team can definitely make a push next season.