Toronto Raptors: 30 NBA Team Previews in 30 Days

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Toronto Raptors: 30 NBA Team Previews in 30 Days
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2009-10 Statistics

Finished 40-42, second in Atlantic Division, ninth in Eastern Conference.

 

Postseason

Missed postseason.

 

Additions and Re-Signings

Leandro Barbosa via trade, Amir Johnson via re-signing, David Andersen via trade, Solomon Alabi via trade, Ed Davis via draft, Linas Kleiza via free agency, and Julian Wright via trade.

 

Losses

Chris Bosh via free agency, Hedo Turkoglu via trade, Marco Belinelli via trade, and Antoine Wright via free agency.

At least they still have Andrea Bargnani.

The Toronto Raptors had a tough offseason at the hands of free agency by losing out on their superstar in Chris Bosh who has been the anchor of the Raptors franchise since joining them as a rookie in the 2003-04 season. Since joining the team, the Raptors have made two postseasons and won their first division title in franchise history.

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The past two seasons have been a disappointment as they failed to break .500 and faltered late last season in a bid for another post season appearance. Bosh obviously knew that if he was ever going to win, he would need to join a different team that was destined to win games. By teaming up with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in Miami, he got his wish.

The city of Toronto however is now suffering at the loss of their star.

They will now have to look towards a new offensive leader and with no Turkoglu on the team anymore either, they'll have to reach. Their former No. 1 pick in Andrea Bargnani will have to take on the role as scoring leader considering he has been the second in command and is coming off of a career season where he averaged 17 points and six rebounds.

Rebounding is going to pose itself as a huge problem for the Raptors due to the fact that there are none aside from Amir Johnson. Bargs is statistically the worst rebounding center in NBA history at only five per game for his career because he spends most of his time outside of the paint. Imagine a shooting guard in a center's body and you get Andrea Bargnani's commitment to rebounding.

The Raptors could look towards newly acquired Soloman Alabi who will back up Bargnani, but could provide the team a rebounder in the paint that they will desperately need. Alabi averaged six rebounds and two blocks in 26 minutes per game in his final season at the collegiate level. He should see plenty of time on the court for the Raptors due to their lack of reliable defensive center.

Toronto does have something to look forward to in second year player DeMar DeRozan who impressed last season in limited minutes. DeRozan only averaged 21 minutes of playing time last year, but averaged eight points on 50 percent shooting and three rebounds as a guard/forward combo. As a shooting guard, his 6'7" frame will be used as an advantage over smaller shooting guards who are unable to keep up with him.

DeRozan could use some work on his jump shot and other offensive assets, but being compared to Kobe Bryant out of college is a hard reputation to live up to. He has shown flashes of brilliance, including the last game of the season in his first game of significant minutes. In 37 minutes he scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a winning effort.

The Raptors did benefit somewhat off of the Turkoglu trade by not only giving DeRozan more playing time in the future, but receiving swing man Leandro Barbosa in the deal. The former Phoenix Sun has been regarded as one of the top sixth men in the league, but had his season derailed last year by injuries allowing him to play in only 44 games and averaging 10 points in the process.

Barbosa's quickness and agility will fit very well into a Raptors system that is similar to that of the Suns and Knicks, which features a run and gun offensive style. Barbosa is not new to this and has benefited off of this style as he has played seven seasons of the system it is based off of.

The point guard position was split last year as Jose Calderon and Jarret Jack shared time, but it could be Jack who ends up starting in place of Calderon. Jack is a more reliable passing threat, but Jose is by far the better passer. Calderon has averaged as much as nine assists in his time with Toronto, but is a defensive liability on a team that could use it as times.

Jack is a better offensive threat and averaged 12 points on 48 percent shooting last year, but his passing ability is no where near that of Calderon. Jack averaged five assists last season, but coughed up two turnovers in the process. It is this reason why Calderon will probably regain his role in the starting lineup.

Toronto smartly tried to go after a power forward in this past draft and got one out of Ed Davis from North Carolina. He is undersized at 6'9", but he possesses a terrific offensive game and is an astounding rebounder and shot blocker as well. Davis's stock dropped last season as his Tar Heels suffered, but at 12 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks per game, the Raptors could use Davis in the future.

He might not turn into Chris Bosh, but it is a good start for a team that is in desperate need of a rebounder and shot blocker.

The Raptors may have to suffer for the next few seasons before they can get back on the right track, but they do have a plethora of young players that are ready to take over where Bosh left off. It's sad to see the Raptors faithful deceived again by a former idol, but they'll need to begin to surround DeRozan and Davis with talent now if they want them to remain in Toronto.

 

Projected Starting Lineup

PG-Jose Calderon

SG-Leandro Barbosa

SF-DeMar DeRozan

PF-Amir Johnson

C-Andrea Bargnani

 

Prediction

24-58

This is part 27 in a 30-day series of previews for each NBA team for the upcoming 2010-2011 season. My profile contains the other teams that I have already previewed.

 

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