The Toronto Raptors, essentially a team since 1995 who have ranged from horribly below average to slightly above average. Could this be the year that the Raptors are a legitimate contender 1 through 12?
Probably not, but this is without a doubt the most important season in franchise history.
Turkoglu, DeRozan, Jack, Belinelli, A. Wright, A. Johnson, Nesterovic, Evans, Weems
Marion, A. Parker, Kapono, Mensah-Bonsu, Ukic, J. Graham, Delfino
As you could probably tell, Raptors GM Brian Colangelo left no doubt that he wasn't afraid to overhaul the underachieving Raptors of last year. The core of Bosh, Bargnani, and Calderon remain. But other then that the remaining Raptors from '08-09 won't be seeing the floor.
For Raptors fans, watching Anthony Parker go was probably the hardest pill to swallow. Parker had been the Raptors best perimeter defender and had been the Raptors only real scoring threat from the 1 to 3 spots.
The thing is, Parker will probably be the only Raptor that fans will miss. The quality acquired far out ways what has been lost.
The addition of Hedo Turkoglu to the Raptors line up gives Raptor fans something to look forward to in the sense that he actually has the size and the skill to adequately defend most anyone at the three-spot. Coming off of a career season, it is likely Hedo's numbers will decline, but offensively he gives the Raptors one thing they were lacking in years past: a SF capable of putting up a line of about 20 and 7 that is able to create a shot for himself (unlike Marion, who needs to have the shot set for him).
Jarret Jack gives the Raptors a backup to be confident in. Two years removed from the best point guard tandem in the league, Jack should provide a spark at PG and hopefully keep Jose down to about 33 MPG. Not to mention that Jack and Bosh already have one year together at Georgia Tech, so potentially a move to sway Bosh into signing an extension?
Belinelli, Wright, and DeRozan are the Raptors new possibilities at SG. Two of which have massive potential in the NBA. Whether Wright gets the start or the Raptors go with youth, the SG position will probably be the Raptors weakest this year. However, it should be the strongest in years to come. When you have a Rookie athletically being compared to Vince Carter, it is usually a sign that you can be confident in his abilities.
The rest of the additions are role guys, players who are going to go out. With a role in mind, do their job and be done with it. Don't expect any real numbers from Evans and Nesterovic, but a few rebounds a game will certainly be there for both.
Potential Depth Chart
Keep in mind training camp has not even officially begun. If things play out as I predict, I expect the Raptors depth chart to turn out something along these lines.
PG: Calderon, Jack, Douby
SG: Bellinelli, Wright, DeRozan
SF: Turkaglu, Weems (Don't count Wright or DeRozan out of playing 2nd string SF)
PF: Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson, Reggie Evans
C: Bosh, Rasho, O'Bryant
All I can say is that this is the deepest looking Raptor bench in awhile and bench production SHOULD be way up.
The Big Three
By this I mean Bargnani, Bosh, and Calderon.
I don't want to keep you for too long, but here is what I am expecting for each of them.
Bargnani established himself on the defensive end last season, and starting at the 4 he should continue to do so. Don't expect many 20 point games out of Bargnani, but if he could average 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocked shots while maintaining a good shot percentage for 3 point range and the field, he could be a solid big man in the East.
Bosh will do what Bosh does. With the potential of being an UFA at seasons end, CB4 shouldn't have a problem with taking over again and having it known that he is the Raptors franchise player and that he is going to lead the Rap's in scoring. A line of 23 points, 10 rebounds, along with a blocked shot a game and 80+% from FT range isn't too far fetched at all.
Jose is going to be better this year, period. He had a career year last season, while he has injured and playing at 50%. Expect Calderon to be back at a level where he drives before taking a jumper. His steals, assist-turnover ratio, assists in general, points, and field-goal percentage should all be up. A healthy Jose could put the Raptors at a very high level.
Top 5 Fantasy Picks (Projected lines just my prediction, not professional)
1. Chris Bosh - Projected line of about 23 ppg, 10 rpg, 1 bpg, 47% FG, 80 %FT
Qualifies for F, PF, and C
2. Jose Calderon - Projected line of 1.1 3PTM, 14 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 9.2 APG, 1.5 SPG
Qualifies for PG, other projected stats 2 TO per game, 49% FG, 95% FT
3. Andrea Bargnani - Projected line of 15 PPG, 1.5 3PTM, 6 RPG, 1.5 BPG
Qualifies for C, PF, and F
4. Hedo Turkaglu - 15 PPG, 6 PRG, 2 3PTM, 80% FT, 3 APG
Qualifies for SF, SG, G, and F
5. Bellinelli - 9 PPG, 3 APG, 1 3PTM, 45% FG
Hard line to predict, he is undrafted in most leagues but probably more likely then Jack or DeRozan to put up big numbers for this year.
Predictions for year:
Bosh, Bargnani, and Turkaglu have more size then anyone and are stronger then expected inside defensively. However, the perimeter defense is still lacking, Raptors will probably be lit up for 100+, 35 or more games this year. The bench plays solid and DeRozan becomes ready for big minutes around All Star Break time. The Raptors make the playoffs but can't adjust to the defensive style and are eliminated in the first round.
Good enough for 2nd in Atlantic, and 7th in the East.
Does Bosh stay?
Yes, Bosh loves the city of Toronto. If CB4 sees that the Raptors are headed in the right direction and that they are only a couple of moves away from being serious contenders Bosh will sign long term in Toronto. If TO doesn't make the playoffs then Bosh is gone.
Points for / Points Against:
Points for average prediction: 109 PPG
Points against average: 102 PPG
Biggest Improvement from 2008/2009:
- Bench plays a huge part in improving output.
- Finally a SF who can create his own shot
- Calderon now at 100% with a legitimate backup
Biggest Downgrades from 2008/2009:
- Despite the SG's putting up average numbers, the loss of AP noticed at the defensive- end.