In projecting Toronto's record, it's important to note that they had the performance of a 52-win team a year ago, even though they only won 41 games, and that they could have won even more had they not sabotaged themselves by keeping Bargnani
in the rotation.
The trade for O'Neal offers another potential bright spot. While Calderon
can take over most of the minutes that Ford played a year ago, O'Neal fills in a large defensive void and, if healthy, should greatly improve Toronto at this end. That's the rub, of course -- I projected him to average 27 minutes a game, including injury time-outs, and even that may have been optimistic.
Additionally, the bench seems nowhere near as strong as the unit from a year ago. Toronto finds itself counting on players like Ukic, Kapono and Bargnani, and based on their numbers from a season ago that's a scary proposition indeed. It's possible Bargnani
surprises us with a breakout year, but the odds of the other two doing so are remote.
Add it all up and you have a sleeper in the East, but one whose lack of depth and injury-prone frontcourt make it unlikely to pile up a huge regular-season victory total. They may very well win a round in the playoffs, but they're not quite ready to move into the conference's upper crust yet.
47-35, 3rd in Atlantic Division, T-5th in Eastern Conference