Saturday, October 6, 2007

Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors season preview

Projected starting lineup
G T.J. Ford
G Anthony Parker
F Jason Kapono
F Chris Bosh
C Andrea Bargnani

Jose Calderon
Jorge Garbajosa
Carlos Delfino
Rasho Nesterovic

Last Year
After going through one of the busiest off-seasons in Raptor history, the team that showed up for training camp was not even close to being the same team that had left just a few months previous. So long Mike James, Matt Bonner, Rafeal Arujo, Antonio Davis, Eric Willams, Charlie Villanueva and Jalen Rose. Hello Anthony Parker, T.J. Ford, Jorge Garbajosa, Andrea Bargnani, Rasho Nesterovic and Kris Humphries. Bryan Colangelo was brought in mid season in 2005-2006 to turn this franchise around, and what he did was completely overhaul a basement team into a playoff contender. At the beginning of the year, the expectations from outside the organization were for a solid step forward for the franchise but just short of playoffs. It would take time for this team to gel they would say. Maybe they didn't notice that the European players were already playing at a top level elsewhere, with Jose Calderon and Garbajosa both playing for the world champion Spanish team and Anthony Parker a 2 time Euroleague MVP and considered the best player not in the NBA. Sure experience playing together is important, but at the same time basketball is basketball. It took this team two months to gel, ironically needing a Chris Bosh injury to speed up the process, and from New Years till the end of the season they were the second best team in the east. The depth also was what allowed them to overcome injuries to Bosh/Ford/Parker/Garbo/Bargnani to finish the season with 47 wins, tieing the franchise best for wins in a season. Unfortunetly, the playoffs became a different story where the inexperience started to show and injuries did start to matter, with Garbajosa especially missed and a rusty Bargnani playing in the series. Even with all the struggles, they were a "one inch higher on the pass to Bosh" away from sending the series to a Game 7 at the ACC.

Lost Morris Peterson to free agency
Traded two 2nd round draft picks for Carlos Delfino
Signed Jason Kapono
Signed Maceo Baston
Signed Jamario Moon
Resigned Derrek Martin

The Morris Peterson situation is a tough one to describe. There was points last year were Mo-Pete was fantastic, hitting MP3 Downloads and playing tight D. Plus who can forget "the shot" in Washington. But just as equal was how often he would disappear on the court, both on offense and on defense. A very inconsistent year for Peterson, and as much as Peterson is loved by the Raptor fans, I don't blame the Raps for the decisions they made. Like I said, it's a tough one to describe but I think it was the right decision for the team. Peterson will be missed though. Jason Kapono made some waves right off the bat when the free agency signing period began with his rather large contract for a player considered to be a specialty player. All I can say is that if Kapono was dropping 3's like that in Miami, wait till you see what he does with the far superior ball movement in Toronto. As for the money, that is not my concern right now. If down the road the Raptors don't have money to spend on free agents they need and Kapono is sucking, then I will care. Delfino has tons of talent, and a change of scenery might be what he needs to show those talents. Plus he is bargain basement cheap, costing the Raps a couple of 2nd round draft picks. I see him has the replacement to Morris Peterson.

Here is where my thoughts will be considered biased. Because they are. This is a Toronto Raptors blog for heavens sake. But I really believe that the Raptors have just as much ability to make it to the finals as any other team. The biggest reason is Andrea Bargnani. With his move to the center position and having that first year under his belt, I can see very big things from him. This Raptor team is a two superstar team, which I think Bargnani will show. If the development of his low post game and some solid steps forward in the defensive department take place this off-season, then the Raptors will have the necassary weapons to handle any team in the east. Also a prediction of mine is that with the strong three point threat in Kapono now on the court (Garbo started last year and could hit the three ball, but not even close to the accuracy of Kapono) we will see Parker become more of a slasher then what he was last year. Word is that Parker was a fantastic slasher over seas. And on top of all this, the most important thing is the fact that they will just get better now that they have had one year playing together. The critics said last year that this team needed to gel. Well look what they did last year while that happened. The upside on this team is with out a doubt, NBA championship.

What to watch for
1) Battle of the Atlantic - It is no longer the Titantic division. The Raptors are the defending champs with 3 other improved teams now chasing them.
2) Bargnani - Will he take that next step forward.
3) T.J. vs Jose - Can they continue to co-exist?

I predict a lot more from this team then other observers, but I also have season tickets, so my opinion is tainted. Regardless, they improved as the year progressed last year and I expect more improvements this year. They were the second best team in the East since New Years, and even though the East has improved, again I think the Raptors will have improved also.

Between 48 and 52 wins this season with a 4th place finish in the East


breatnyS said...

Good defense by the Toronto Raptors drama boys, if only we could patch up the difference, this will be a Toronto good season. They are running, switching in defense, rebounding see those efforts. We don't have yet the Raptors team down.

I which I could see some Raptors games live. I was looking for tickets all the good seats on ticketmaster were taken I had to check broker. And man you don’t want to do that especially for the Toronto Raptors. Thanks god there sites like Ticketwood which work as comparators here is the site
Raptors Tickets

I like slam dunks that take me to the hoop my favorite play is the ally-hoop,
I like the pic n roll,i like the given goal its basketball yo, yo lets go!
Go Raptors Go!!!

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Go Toronto Raptors