My Future Raptors Team
The old era of the Bosh years is over. Was it good? For the most part no. Only one good year where we one the divisional title and the rest we either didn't make the playoffs or were out quickly. Overall, I'd rate it as a C.
The next few years are going to be between bad and mediocre, but sooner than you think folks, they will be good and then, very good, if the Raps do it right. I am talking top 4 team consistently by no later than 2015 and playoff team by 2012, 2013 at the latest!
Right now we have one guaranteed superstar player in Bargnani, who imo, is better than Bosh, even on defense. However, the future Raptors need not stress him out too much with defense (just play enough to not be a liability like Calderon) and rebounding. Just do what he is good at, scoring. He can score from everywhere and whether he is the PF or the SF (and a big one at that) he will be a nightmare to defend. Three shots, jump shots, turnarounds, pick and rolls, blowbys, you name it, he can do it all and do it well. I predict 25ppg and 7 rpg during his best years.
The other star players that we have right now that will be part of the top 4 team of the future are Demar DeRozan and Ed Davis. Demar may not have completely fulfilled expectations last year, but I attribute that to A) being a rookie and B) being the "little guy" of the starting lineup. He showed brilliance now and then and believe me, now that he is going to be that much more important, he will slowly become the 18-22 ppg SG that we need, a position, over SF that he will take because he defends that better and Bargs may end up at SF. Ed Davis meanwhile, where we all know where he will end up, at center or PF where he belongs. As a big defensive minded rebounding machine that will be his home turf and from all reports he will protect his turf very well. To add to that, right now, the Raptors have a nice, deep, young bench.
So, obviously we don't have all the pieces we need but we certainly, if we play our cards right, have the flexibility to get all the pieces we need. What we need, and frankly, have never filled appropriately, is a true Alvin William-esque PG. Jarret Jack is okay and he will do for now but his place is on the bench with someone better. We could try to get Collins as I suggested in my other article but I think we are better off "tanking" a bit this year and waiting for next years draft. Here is why: We have two 1st round picks already and we are guaranteed 1 more next year (since every team gets 2 for every draft) along with one 2nd round pick. Also, if we "tank" we don't give up our trade exception, a powerful tool for the future.
In all likelihood (I haven't actually looked) there will be a top 10 PG in the next year's draft and if we tank we can probably get him if we need him, unless he goes very high. With our other two 1st rounders we can get a SF/PF/C depending on where Bargs and Ed end up playing and a role player. The 2nd round pick can also be a role player for added depth, or maybe he will a surprise. Finally, we can use the trade exception to acquire anything else we need, especially for the shorter term. If can get something right now WITHOUT using our picks or (at least not all of it) our trade exception then we have a decent team with the flexibility to make a very good future team, "tanking" only possibly giving us higher picks come draft day 2011.
The ultimate team, the basic design that has made championship and contending teams in the past is as follows: A PG that can score 10-15 when needed but is primarily a playmaker and good positional defender. Collison could be that, so could a draft pick from 2011. A SG that is also a good positional defender and score 15ppg but closer to 18-22ppg being preferred. That is what we all hope DeRozan becomes and what I expect he will be become. A SF that can once again, defend his spot and either score big time or role play well. That is, of course, either Bargnani or a future draft pick. At PF, another situational defender and rebounder and moderate scorer at 8-12 ppg which is Ed Davis in a nutshell or alternatively (if we chose the draft pick route for SF) Bargnani or another draft pick. Then finally, we have the center, whom we need to be primarily a rebounder and hoop protector, an "own the glass" type player. That could be Ed Davis or it could be a draft pick or our 2nd round pick from this year. Then we still have our trade exception which could also be used to fill one of these spots.
So in summary, we need 1 primarily play-making PG with some scoring potential, 2 big scorers, 2 inside defenders/rebounders and 5 players who can all play their defensive positions with becoming liabilities (in our starting lineup) plus a good strong bench, which we almost already have. Smart use of the tools available can create this and we can even not be terrible in the meantime. Ultimately though, if we really want to see this through this time around we have to be willing to pay everyone the big bucks and go pay into the luxury tax otherwise we'll be having this exact same conversation in about 5 or 6 years.
I know this was long, but I hope you enjoyed it.
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