With the new season fast approaching I wanted to analyze some of the more pressing questions facing the Raptors this season. Feel free to comment, critique, or disagree at your leisure. Enjoy!
1. Is Chris Bosh ready to take this team to the next level?
Bosh reportedly has put on 15 pounds of muscle this off-season and after a year of baby-mamma drama, and a pesky knee and shoulder injuries Bosh apparently is focused and ready to lead this team into the playoffs. While his pending free agency and lack of comments on the issue are troubling, Bosh appears to take the next step in his NBA development. He has grown as a leader vocally and has started to show some much appreciated emotion on the court. Even as going as far to call out Jamario Moon on wanting a new contract last year shows that Bosh is tired of players playing for themselves. Bosh still has some work to do to show that he is not just a gifted finesse player but he is on the right track.
Prediction: Bosh posts career best numbers that have him take a his payday elsewhere
2. Who will be the starter at Shooting Guard?
While Antoine Wright and Marco Belinelli have been acquired to add depth and shore up the position however Raptor fans have been divided on the issue for some time. Furthering adding to the mix is the presence of DeMar DeRozan who some scouts and plenty of fans think is going to start. Wright known for his defense would be a welcomed addition for a team that doesn’t play that much defense and Belinelli is a gifted shooter and has the ability to mix it up more than people give him credit for.
Prediction: While my personal preference is for Wright to start, I believe Belinelli will get the nod as starter. DeRozan while extremely talented and he will be the starter in the future for the sake of his development he needs to be brought along slowly and taught the right way.
3. Will this team ever play defense?
The Raptors haven’t been able to play defense since the Kevin O’Neil years. (Granted they couldn’t score either) I am pleased with the addition of Marc Iavaroni however I remain unconvinced that Chuck Daly would be able to get this team to play consistent team defense (The Raptors are incapable of playing man-to-man). Possibly it appears that if the team does not respond to Triano this year Iavaroni could be there to fill the void.
Prediction: Triano lasts the entire year, and the Raptors remain at the bottom half of the NBA in defensive categories.
4. What is this team’s potential?
It has been debated endlessly on B|R about the Raptors projected finish. We have those that believe the Raptors will finish out of the playoff picture, others that are predicting an Atlantic division title. I disagree with both assessments. I do not believe the Raptors have enough to withstand a motivated Boston team with more depth and better personnel than the Raptors currently have. However the talent on paper would indicate that this team is a lock to make the playoffs. This team is likely the deepest the Raptors have had in their existence, and are capable of withstanding injuries to key players (hopefully not a the same time)
Prediction: Raptors finish 6th in the East and have a playoff match up with Boston in the opening round.
5. Who will be the unexpected contributor this year?
I think that Antoine Wright will show a vastly improved offensive game, while maintaining his presence on the defensive end. I think that Triano has the ability to see where players will be most successful. This would be a reason why if Wright started he could concentrate on the defensive end guarding the teams’ best scorer. Potentially he could develop a shot much like Bruce Bowen and be a solid contributor to this team this year and in the future.
Other Candidates: Amir Johnson, Reggie Evans