2008-2009 Toronto Raptors Season Preview
2008 Toronto Raptors preview from MadduxSports.com. In addition to the free team preview, you can evaluate NBA odds for upcoming pro basketball games.
In 2007-2008, the Toronto Raptors (41- 41) were projected to have a solid and capable team. They started the season 12-10 with starting point guard T.J. Ford looking like he could have a hallmark year. Then Ford was injured by Atlanta’s Al Horford and was lost for almost two months. Despite the injury, Toronto continued to play competitive ball with backup point guard Jose Calderon controlling the play. When Ford came back things started to go south for the team located north of the border. Ford was relegated to the backup spot and was obviously unhappy, becoming more of a distraction than an asset. More problems upfront as center Andrea Bargnani, the first pick of the 2007 draft, won a starting spot after a solid rookie season but did not develop as hoped in year two. The team made it to the first-round of the playoffs and that was it.
The Raptors were one of the best shooting teams in the league. Their three-point and foul shooting ranked one and two respectively. But they shot very few fouls, taking away their advantage in that area. They took fewer threes than most teams, which also diminished that strength. The club turned the ball over very little especially with Calderon at the point. The frontcourt play of Rasho Nesterovic, Kris Humphries and Maceo Baston made up for Bargnani’s failings. When star forward Chris Bosh was healthy, he was instrumental in ensuring the Raptors were competitive.
Ford, Nesterovic and Baston are gone. Forward/center Jermine O’Neal, a 12-year vet, has been added to bolster the frontcourt. Rookie Nathan Jawai, from Australia, looks to be a potential banger in the front. The point will be backed up by Croatian rookie Roko Ukic.
Upfront at center, O’Neal, if he’s healthy, will be a key component. Last season, in which he was injured, he played 42 games, averaging 13.6 PPG and 6.7 RPG. Power forward Bosh, who played 67 games, was good for 22.3 PPG and 8.7 RPG. Together, they could be an amazing duo. The small forward spot will be manned by a host of players with Jamario Moon, who had a solid rookie season last year, probably getting the chance to start. He started 75 games at that position in his first year.
Calderon, who averaged 8.3 APG and 11.2 PPG, will command the point. He was fifth in the league in assists last season and knocked down 52% of his shots. Anthony Parker, a five-year player, is a fine shooting guard. He had a 44% success rate from downtown, which was seventh best in the NBA. Jason Kapono, a forward, is good enough to backup the shooting spot. He hit 48% of his threes and 49% of his shots from the field.
The Raptors have been a team in search of some extra frontcourt muscle, and they hope they’ve found it with O’Neal. If they can control the boards on offense and defense, this team will not only make the playoffs, but they will have a chance to win a playoff series or two. Third in the Atlantic looks promising.