The Toronto Raptors knew that last season was a pivotal season for
the franchise because Chris Bosh was entering his final year of the
contract and the Raptors would have to show some competitiveness in
order to convince CB4 to stay in Toronto, at the end we all know what
happened to Toronto and Bosh’s destiny.
They were involved with the Chicago Bulls in a tight race for the
last spot of the playoffs, but they came short in the decisive game
against the Bulls in April eventually losing by 88-104 to end their
On the offensive end, the Raptors were an explosive team with
multiple threats all over the floor and ended the season by being the
7th most efficient team on the offensive end.
However their defense was atrocious all season and the Raptors simply
weren’t that offensive talented to keep up with their really bad
defense. In November and December, the Raptors’ defense was at their
worst by allowing 125, 129, 131, 130, 116, 116, 113 and 146 points in
some games and obviously they were the worst defensive team in the
league in terms of defensive efficiency.
Nevertheless, they were a tough team to beat at home, in which they
ended up with a 25-16 and some nice wins against the best teams in the
The biggest offseason addition was supposed to be Small Forward Hedo
Turkoglu, but he never felt comfortable with the system and struggled
in every relevant statistic. Andrea Bargnani developed nicely into the
Raptors are expecting from him and DeMar DeRozan established as their
starting Shooting Guard. However, the lack of toughness and passion of
this team was evident through the season and in this league, you can’t
win only with the talent and that was the biggest problem for the
Raptors last season.
2009/10 Advanced Stats:
Pace 14th 96.2
Offense 7th 107.8
Defense 30th 109.9
Rebounds 22th -0.89
Projected Depth Chart:
PG: Jose Calderon, Jarrett Jack, Marcus Banks
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Leandro Barbosa
SF: Linas Kleiza, Sonny Weems
PF: Reggie Evans, Amir Johnson, Ed Davis, Julian Wright, Joey Dorsey
C: Andrea Bargnani, David Andersen
The franchise player of this team is now playing in Miami and the
Raptors received a Traded Player Exception with their sign-and-trade
deal with Chris Bosh worth of $14.5-million, in which the club has one
year from the date of acquisition to make use of it.
Eventually the Raptors will be able to grab a top player somewhere
in the league by taking advantage of their salary cap relief. The Utah
Jazz did that in this offseason when they pick up Al Jefferson from
Minnesota and the Raptors are waiting for the best opportunity available
in the market.
Without Bosh, the Raptors are seen as one of if not the worst team
in the league. They made several additions trying to improve the roster,
but when you are replacing your best player – a perennial All Star
player for Amir Johnson, then your team will be in trouble and that’s
what the Raptors will have to deal with for this season. General Manager
Bryan Colangelo was able to get rid of Turkoglu’s huge contract when
he traded him to Phoenix for Leandro Barbosa and he rescued Linas
Kleiza from Europe, besides that the Raptors didn’t make any
substantial movements which aren’t good news at all.
For the first time in his NBA career, Andrea Bargnani will get the
label of being the most skilled offensive player in the team. He is
coming from a career year, in which he averaged 17.2 points, 6.1
rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game, while shooting 47% from the field.
However, there are some concerns regarding his play in the NBA. One of
them is his rebounds numbers for the position that he plays are
ridiculously low. The truth must be told, last season he improved in
rebounds, offensive boards and blocks, but we are still talking about
6.1 rebounds per game! He needs to improve dramatically in rebounding,
boxing-out and rotate on defense or else the Raptors will be a perennial
bad defensive team.
Also without Chris Bosh, Bargnani will handle constant double teams
from the opponents, as he is the most offensive dangerous player of the
team and that will be something new for him, although with Bosh
sidelined for much of the month of April, he averaged 19.9 points per
game. This is a pivotal year for his development and affirmation that
led the franchise to draft him as the number 1 draft pick 5 years ago.
At the Point Guard position, the Raptors will have to choose between
Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack, although Calderon has been involved in
some trade rumors.
Calderon had a tough season last year dealing with nagging injuries
that affected his play, even when he was healthy enough to be on the
court. He is more a PG playmaker, but his assists numbers suffered a
huge drop from 8.3 and 8.9 in the previous 2 years to 5.9apg last
season. Also his defense is far from being good and midway the season,
head coach Jay Triano gave the starting job to Jarrett Jack, who
responded pretty well. To make things even worse for Calderon, he got
injured (hamstring injury) this summer just before the FIBA World
Championships, so he won’t receive playing time in this preseason.
On the other side, Jarrett Jack is more of a scorer Point Guard than
a playmaker. As a starter, Jack answered pretty well by posting
12.8ppg, while shooting almost 53% from the field, however he doesn’t
the same court vision as Calderon, but he has still been productive
through his career and he is a valuable piece in the organization.
Last season, rookie DeMar DeRozan was the starting Shooting Guard of
the team, but his role was merely residual on the court. He logged only
21.6 minutes per game and he was basically the fifth option on the
floor at all times and besides some highlight reel dunk, his presence on
the offensive end was simply forgotten. For this season without Chris
Bosh, DeRozan will get his share of touches in the ball as a primary
wing scorer and we can expect him to have a “breakout” season.
To complete the backcourt, the Raptors acquired Leandro Barbosa from
the Suns and Barbosa has seen his minutes burn out in Phoenix in 3
consecutive seasons. In 2006-07 he logged 32.7 minutes per game and
averaged 18.1 points and 4.0 assists per game however for some reason he
has disappeared progressively since then. In a high tempo offensive
system, Barbosa is a perfect fit due to his quickness and capacity to
score in fast transitions.
Linus Kleiza returns to NBA after spent last year playing for
Olympiakos in Greece. Kleiza is a versatile Small Forward with some
offensive skills – he showed that during the last FIBA World
Championships, however his defense is questionable at best. Did you
notice that this is the third potential Raptors’ starter that I’m
questioning his defensive abilities? GM Colangelo probably also thinks
the same because in the offseason the Raptors almost pulled a trade for
Boris Diaw and they also were interested in the sign of Matt Barnes: 2
Small Forward players. Sonny Weems is the opposite of Kleiza, as he is
an energetic player that features his game with hustle in both ends of
To “replace” Chris Bosh, the Raptors offered a 30(plus) million
dollar contract to Amir Johnson, so they are pretty high on him. Johnson
is entering his 6th year in the NBA, despite being only 23 years old,
but he never received more than 17.7 minutes per game during his
career. Last season he started in 5 games and averaged 17.8ppg and
6rpg, but this is a pretty small sample for us to have the real
perception of his value. He will get the first real chance to play
major minutes, so let’s see how will respond to this task.
The Raptors drafted power forward Ed Davis from UNC, but
unfortunately he sustained a “meniscal” injury to his right knee during a
pickup game in September, which could delay his natural development
into the team. Besides him, Toronto has more players to share minutes in
David Andersen, Reggie Evans and Joey Dorsey.
This will be a tough year for the organization, as they look to move
past the “Chris Bosh era”. Defense will be once again a problematic
issue for them because they don’t a real defensive stopper in the roster
and their players are built to play in a high tempo offensive scheme.
The bright side of this story is that nobody is counting with them, so
they won’t have any pressure at all to win.