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Old 02-15-2012, 06:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Chisholm: Look for the Raptors to do something at the trade deadline

We are officially one month away from the NBA trade deadline, and you can expect the Raptors to be active participants when negotiations get real just after the All-Star break.

This season was about two things for the Raptors: talent development and talent evaluation. Both areas are a work-in-progress, especially since the team has only just recently been afforded some consistent practice time with head coach Dwane Casey, but certain trends are beginning to emerge that make activity likely in the next 29 days.

First of all, the expected clog has emerged at the team's power forward slot. Andrea Bargnani being out of late has eased the situation considerably, but there is no denying that Amir Johnson and Ed Davis are being seriously challenged at their natural positions by James Johnson and Linas Kleiza.

While the latter two have typically listed as small forwards in the NBA, both are tremendously more effective playing power forward for the Raptors. Johnson's PER is 9.4 as a small forward but a whopping 18.6 as a power forward, according to 82games.com, while Kleiza has a 9.1 rating at small forward and a 15.7 rating as a power forward. In fact, both of those players have better PERs than Amir Johnson and Ed Davis do at power forward this season, suggesting some roster rearranging might be in order.

The fact is that once Andrea Bargnani gets back, this situation will become untenable. He'll be eating up over 30 minutes a night at the power forward position (while also logging a few minutes at center), which will simply squeeze this group too much, especially since Johnson (8.0) and Davis (11.5) have posted sub-par PERs as centres so far this year.

It would be shocking to see the club move James Johnson considering he's having a tremendous growth year, is the team's best perimeter defender and is turning himself into a mini-Matrix with the minutes he's afforded. It would, likewise, be surprising to see Kleiza moved since he brings some much needed grit to the club, is one of their most efficient scorers (thanks to solid three-point and foul shooting) and is the team's only player outside of Bargnani and Jose Calderon to have a PER above the league average (he's at 15.5).

It's also worth remembering that the team knows that they have Jonas Valanciunas coming over next year, and whether he starts or not, he'll be eating up lots of frontcourt minutes, and that in certain situations, Aaron Gray is going to play (if the team does the wise thing and re-signs him this summer) because his size and tenacity are simply called for in certain matchups. That means that the clock is ticking for Amir Johnson or Ed Davis in Toronto, it's just a matter of numbers, and this trade deadline may bring a swift resolution to that position.

Last edited by jeffb; 02-15-2012 at 06:18 PM.
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