Which team is the worst in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference? It looks like this year it’s the Toronto Raptors (40-42). Last season ended with some hope as the Raptors finished second in the Atlantic and missed the final spot in the playoffs by one game. But that was last year. In 2010-2011, there’s less about which to be optimistic. The major reason for this has to do with the Raptors’ loss of Chris Bosh who has gone to the Miami Heat, helping to make them the best team in the conference.
With Bosch gone, it’s time for seven-foot center Andrea Bargnani (.439 FG%, .376 3PT%, .815 FT%, 6.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 17.2 PPG) to step up. He has the size and some good shooting skills. Last season, he averaged 1.39 blocks per game. That was good, but you’d like to see that stat a good block higher. Additionally, you’d expect him to grab more than 6.2 rebounds per game while playing an average of 35 MPG. His rebounding off the offensive boards really needs to improve. He’s the man but can he man up?
Last season, the Raptors signed four-year Detroit vet Amir Johnson (.623 FG%, .000 3PT%, .638 FT%, 4.8 RPG, 0.6 APG, 6.2 PPG). The power forward did a good job off the bench. For the first time in his career, he played in all 82 games, positing solid offensive numbers. Johnson, who is a fine inside offensive player, looks to start at the power spot. Expect to see him get more than 17.7 MPG playing time. His biggest problem is he has no outside game.
The other frontcourt position goes to Linas Kleiza (.447 FG%, .326 3PT%, .725 FT%, 4.0 RPG, 0.8 APG, 9.9 PPG). Kleiza has been in the league four seasons, spending all of them in Denver. For the last two seasons, he averaged around 22 MPG. His minutes should increase this season. It’s hoped that he can score points and develop some defensive skills, which he presently lacks.
The backcourt includes second-year shooting guard DeMar DeRozan (.498 FG%, .250 3PT%, .763 FT%, 2.9 RPG. 0.7 APG. 8.6 PPG) and former Phoenix player Leandro Barbosa (.425 FG%, .324 3PT%, .877 FT%, 1.6 RPG, 1.5 APG, 9.5 PPG). Barbosa, who is a seven-year vet, is the better three-point shooter while DeRozan is more accurate from the floor.
At the point, Jose Calderon (.482 FG%, .398 3PT%, .798 FT%, 2.1 RPG, 5.9 APG, 10.3 PPG) is playing his sixth pro season. He ‘s been with Toronto the whole time. Calderon is a sound assist man but offers little else. Backing him up is another five-year veteran, Jarrett Jack (.481 FG%, .412 3PT%, .842 FT%, 2.7 RPG, 5.0 APG, 11.4 PPG). Jack is a solid defender as well as a good point maker.
The team’s Offensive Efficiency last season stood at 108.6, which was sixth in the league. One of the reasons the club was ranked that high had to do with Bosh. (Bosch’s PER was a massive 25.11.) Although they were sound in efficiency, the club’s Pace Factor was 95.4 (13th). It would be helpful if they could create more chances from the floor. Their strength is their shooting.
The club’s Defensive Efficiency was 110.2; that was 30thin the NBA. This team was an embarrassment when it came to “D.” Plus, due to happenstance, the Raptors saw opponents connect on 78.4% of their free throws, which ranked them first in opponent free throw completions. Toronto has no frontcourt defense.
Interestingly enough, head coach Jay Triano (65-82) is back. Triano, who has been a NBA head coach for two years (both with Toronto), is back. He joined the Raptors part way through the 2008-2009 season. This is his second full season. It’s surprising that he is still coaching as he is clearly completely over his head. If he can’t create a disciplined environment that holds players accountable, he’ll be gone.
Without Bosch in the frontcourt and with Triano as coach, this team will win about half the number of games it did last season. They look to finish fifth in the Atlantic and last in the Eastern Conference. This is a team that is about to have a tough season. It will be a wonder if Triano keeps his job.
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