Front Court: If Summer League is any indicator, Jonas Valanciunas is ready to take the next step toward being an anchor on both ends of the floor. Amir Johnson doesn't put up big stats, but makes big and little plays that help his team. - B
Back Court: You're not going to get a more athletic trio than Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay, and the Raptors were strong defensively with the three on the floor together. But perimeter shooting is an issue. - B
Defense: After ranking 12th defensively in Dwane Casey's first season, the Raptors regressed last year. But then they improved after the Gay trade. If they can pick up where they left off, they can win games with their D. - C
Bench: The Raps will have plenty of shooting off their bench, but not much else. Still, except for Landry Fields, the reserves come cheap. Terrence Ross could develop into a solid, two-way player and give Casey a really athletic small lineup. - B
Coaching: Casey survived the front office shake-up and will be given the opportunity to get his team back to playing defense. That will be easier without Andrea Bargnani and with a training camp and full season with Gay on board. - B
Overall Grade: C
Summary: The biggest change in Toronto came upstairs, where Bryan Colangelo was replaced by Masai Ujiri. The new general manager immediately dumped Bargnani (and managed to get three draft picks in return), but has mostly stood pat, only adding some flawed bench pieces that don't affect the payroll long-term.
That doesn't mean that the Raptors won't be improved. They went 17-16 to close the season and got better defensively after trading for Gay. Most important, the 21-year-old Valanciunas -- a potential franchise player -- has a year of NBA experience under his belt and will be healthy in training camp this time around. His development should be the primary focus of Casey and his staff.
It's just a matter of time before Ujiri makes his next move and tries to build something similar to what he had in Denver. For now, the Raptors will be in that 8-11 range in the Eastern Conference.
Defense: After ranking 12th defensively in Dwane Casey's first season, the Raptors regressed last year. But then they improved after the Gay trade. If they can pick up where they left off, they can win games with their D. – C
Coaching: Casey survived the front office shake-up and will be given the opportunity to get his team back to playing defense. That will be easier without Andrea Bargnani and with a training camp and full season with Gay on board. – B
Kind of silly analysis as they are perhaps self answering.
It is a chicken and egg situation. Did Casey loose D traction because his old GM forced him to change ? They seem to imply yes and I would agree.
I mean the bottom line is D will be better if Casey is allowed free reign in his system and without Bargnani.
How one justifies a B and another a C is kind of moot and stupid. Both are F as in Fail to make the playoffs as projected.
This team still has zero direction. Not sure if that's due to Ujiri's lack of action or Colangelo leaving too big of a mess to clean up quickly or a combo of both.
I respect your opinion Q ... but I disagree...
I disagree only in that its too early to tell for sure.
The team may have zero direction but we wont know till November.
MU will imprint a "direction". DC with free reign will obviously focus on a "d first identity" and the evidence so far seem to suggest they can play better D with gay in the line up ala the last 20 games.
Even this team will have a direction in terms of what are the peices we need to grow and THEN what pieces are here short term long term. Kyle Lowry for example and his performance in a contract year.
I project this team a a d first 500 team barely making the playoffs in the east ; challenged to score a 100 points always. Most wins will be 79 - 78 affairs.
Even the flawed article made one correct prediction: Raptors are in the 8-11 range.
We've been in this range for years and its frustrating as a fan. I am not excited about Raptor basketball, and haven't been for quite some time.
Small market teams just don't win in this league. They either don't have the money to pay or no one wants to go there (cue for those who will point out the outliers). The NBA is the worst league in all of sports. Going into every year, its just 2-4 teams that can win it all, and the other 95 % of the league just plays for nothing.
I have basically given up on tanking as the current roster is too good to be bottom 5 in this league. I think it is the wrong move, but they obviously aren't going to tank (unless Masai plans to make a big trade before the season starts). All signs point to the current roster being aloud to "develop" together.
If this team is kept together they will likely make the playoffs so I guess it will be a moderately exciting season.