Toronto Raptors Season Preview
Last Year’s Record: 33-49
Key Losses: Joey Graham, Nathan Jawai, Jason Kapono, Shawn Marion, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Anthony Parker, Roko Ukic, Jake Voskuhl
Key Additions: Marco Belinelli, DeMar DeRozan, Reggie Evans, Jarrett Jack, Amir Johnson, Rasho Nesterovic, Hedo Turkoglu, Sonny Weems, Antoine Wright
What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?
My favourite quote from the Raptors media day was when Bryan Colangelo joked he would have made more roster moves but he ran out of players.
All kidding aside, Colangelo did a great job of getting rid of parts that weren’t working and exchanging them for players that have a lot of promise. He had a busy summer as he dealt Nathan Jawai, Jason Kapono, Shawn Marion and Roko Ukic, while he allowed Joey Graham, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Anthony Parker and Jake Voskuhl to find homes elsewhere. He then filled out the remaining roster spots by bringing Marco Belinelli, DeMar DeRozan, Reggie Evans, Jarrett Jack, Amir Johnson, Rasho Nesterovic, Hedo Turkoglu, Sonny Weems and Antoine Wright into the mix.
With nine new faces in training camp that means a lot of minutes are up for grabs during training camp. Not only that, but on paper this is the deepest roster in the history of the franchise.
Will all these moves work out? Time will tell, but for the time being fans are excited about the moves that were made over the past few months.
What are the team’s biggest strengths?
It’s a combination of the new depth combined with a few players becoming free agents next summer. Both situations are the ideal way to get players playing hungry and at their highest level during practices and games.
While reading through some articles this past week something that jumped out at me was a story about the 2004-5 Seattle SuperSonics who many had neglected after going 37-45 the previous season. What fans and writers failed to take into account is that Ray Allen and a ton of the players were on the verge of becoming free agents so they had a lot to play for that season. Throw into the mix that the team had a deep and balanced roster and it helped the Sonics enjoy a successful season (52-30).
Could the Raptors enjoy this same level of success this season? Sure, I think 50 plus wins is possible. Not likely, but possible. I think the team will finish with somewhere between 45 and 50 wins and have the chance to make some noise in the playoffs.
What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
I’m going to sound like a complete homer here but the team doesn’t really have a weakness heading into this season.
Do they have a franchise player playing hungry with a sense of urgency because he’ll be a free agent next summer? Check.
How about a starting point guard who is finally healthy and one of the top assist men in the NBA? Check.
What about a deep roster in case the injury bug strikes? Check.
How about throwing into the mix the addition of one of the top free agents from last summer? Check.
And, for good measure, a general manager willing to pull the trigger on a deal if needed at any point during the season? Check.
Unless this teams star players get completely ravaged with injuries I don’t see what could prevent this team from having a strong season.
What are the goals for this team?
They just need their core group of players – Andrea Bargnani, Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon and Hedo Turkoglu – to stay healthy while successfully merging in all of the new faces into Jay Triano’s system. If that happens look for the team to have a successful season and have a chance to cause some noise in the playoffs.
If any combination of those players goes down for an extended period of time due to an injury or Triano’s offensive and defensive philosophies doesn’t mesh with the current group of talent the team could be in for yet another long season.
If the team struggles this season look for talk of Bosh leaving Toronto to reach epic proportions.
Man, I really hate projecting a number of wins. If I pick too high of a number I’m a homer and unrealistic but if I pick a number that’s too low than I’m a bitter and jaded writer. So with that in mind, I’m going to predict the team finishing a respectable 45-37.