Toronto Raptors Season Preview

30 09 2008

My NBA Atlantic Division preview continues with the Toronto Raptors:

Toronto Raptors

2007-08 Standings 41 – 41, 6th Eastern Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 48 – 34, 3rd Atlantic Division, 6th Eastern Conference 

Projected Starting Five:  Jermaine O’Neal, Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Anthony Parker, Jose Calderon

Sixth Man: Jamario Moon

Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon are hoping for big things this season

Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon are hoping for big things this season

Last season the Raptors were in the enviable position of having two classy point guards, TJ Ford and Jose Calderon. The problem was that was two classy point guards too many. They both suffered from the other’s presence and to me at least, almost seemed to limp to their 41 – 41 record. In the off-season the front office solved that dilemma by shipping TJ Ford to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Jermaine O’Neal. This will allow Calderon to stamp his mark on the team and I fully expect them to blossom.

The acquisition of O’Neal solves another problem, namely the Raptors stud Chris Bosh playing out of position at centre. O’Neal immediately solidifies the Raptors interior while simultaneously giving them a legitimate post presence. But his arrival has a big “If” around it. O’Neal is often injured, seemingly cursed for his role in the Palace Brawl a few years back and if he suffers a recurrence the Raptors could suffer. 

One of the big beneficiaries of O’Neal’s arrival should be former Number 1 draft pick Andrea Bargnani. After a strong rookie campaign he slipped backwards last year but with O’Neal he should slip across to the small forward position, a more natural “fit” for him. 

One area of weakness for the Raptors is in their shooting guards. No one is a natural star, Anthony Parker, Jason Kapono et al are all solid and for the Canadian team to join the elite teams of the NBA they really need an athletic 2 guard. 

Coach: 

I have a fond spot for Sam Mitchell – he was one of the mentors for a young Kevin Garnett when he first came in the league. They were team-mates on the T-Wolves and in Chris Bosh he has a star player who at first glance has a similar game to KGs. Both are All Stars but for the Raptors to truly ascend to the upper echelon of the NBA then he will need to develop Bosh into a similar hardnosed defensive player. 

Bench:

The Raptor’s management have stacked the bench with a number of foreign players and players who have played overseas. As such they will need to grow accustomed to the NBA. Jamario Moon started most of last season but I expect Bargnani to take on the starting small forward role, at least initially.

Star Player:

Chris Bosh is the stud of this team. He is an All Star and also a recent Olympic Gold medallist. The one concern will be how he lasts through the season after his Olympic duties.

Team MVP:

Jose Calderon is the Eastern Conference’s answer to Steve Nash. Without Ford around he should develop further and I expect him to be an All Star alongside Bosh this year. 

Final Prognosis 

The arrival of O’Neal should cause the Raptors to improve on last year’s record. However they are a quality 2 guard away from contending. Perhaps they should package some of their shooters such as Jason Kapono for a youngster?

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.

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3 responses

1 10 2008
Travis Outlaw

Is Jermaine a free agent next year?

1 10 2008
Rob

He’s signed through 2009 – 10, so two more years. He could have become a free agent this off season but wisely (for him) chose to not opt out.

2 10 2008
toronto raptors linkage – oct 1

[…] – Future Ramblings […]

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