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Old 08-01-2012, 03:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
is the baby faced assassin

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Slam: Raptors one of five teams to make a huge jump

Not a huge jump imo considering those 23 wins were in a shortened season.

2011-12 Record: 22-44
2012-13 Projection: 48-34

2011-12 Record: 22-44
2012-13 Projection: 40-42

2011-12 Record: 23-43
2012-13 Projection: 39-43

2011-12 Season: 23-43
2012-13 Projection: 37-45

2011-12 Season: 21-45
2012-13 Projection: 42-40
The Raptors are a pretty unique team. While nobody was looking, they’ve stockpiled a pretty solid roster, top-to-bottom.

They have two really good point guards in the newly acquired Kyle Lowry and Jose “I Get 9 Dimes Per Game, Somebody Trade For Me” Calderon. Good enough guys on the wing in DeMar DeRozan, the overpaid-but-solid Landry Fields and rookie Terrance Ross.

The team really gets interesting in the post, where they have Andrea Bargnani, who averaged nearly 20 points per contest last season, and Jonas Valanciunas, who they grabbed fifth overall a year ago and will finally join the team for the upcoming season.

Of course, like most teams on this worst-to-first list, the Raptors need some things to break their way. If Valanciunas is as good as people believe he will be, he and Bargnani will turn into quite the tandem in the paint (though I don’t think Bargnani has step foot in the paint since ’96). DeRozan may be a 20 percent career three-point shooter, but he finds ways to score, averaging just shy of 17 points per game in the ’11-12 season.

Fields was an awful signing financially, but there isn’t a team in the NBA that wouldn’t welcome his services. A shooting guard who won’t shoot the team in the foot is a valuable asset. But he’ll need to regain his pre-Melo New York confidence to be really productive.

Ross was a reach at eighth overall, but they must like him to have taken him rather than trade back with a team like Houston who wanted to move up to grab Andre Drummond or Austin Rivers.

The bench is solid. Assuming they hang onto Calderon (if I was running the Bulls, I’d be trying to work something out as we speak), they’ll have a starting caliber point guard alongside Ross, Linas Kleiza (10 and 4 per game last year), Ed Davis and Amir Johnson. They lack a classic sixth man instant-offense guy, but it’s good enough. Good enough for what, you may ask.

Well, this Raptors team won’t be fighting for home court advantage in postseason. They’re not better than Miami, New York, Brooklyn, Indiana, Boston or (probably) Philly, but they’re right there after that. Atlanta and Orlando will likely take steps back next season, opening up the bottom of the conference to a handful of teams. Toronto will be in the thick of the race for those seventh and eighth spots after missing the Playoffs by 12 games last season. That’s improvement.
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