The season is approaching (but not quickly enough), so that means it’s NBA preview time. Starting with the league’s worst team and working our way to the top, we’ll preview one team per day.
Last year’s record: 40-42
Head Coach:Jay Triano
Projected Starters:Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza, Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson
Having no clear-cut best player can either be great or miserable. In the Raptors’ case, I promise, it’s a very bad sign. The Raptors will go as far as Linas Kleiza, Leandro Barbosa, DeMar DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani take them. In other words, they’ll be in the lottery with room to spare.
(*Looks down roster.* Marcus Banks? Hah. David Anderson? Definitely not. Solomon Alabi? Who? Ahh, Linas Kleiza.)
Kleiza can score, we know that. He became an inside-outside duel threat in Europe, we hear. And though he is nowhere near equipped to be a go-to guy on an NBA team, Kleiza might be the Raptors’ closest thing to it. Sucks to be a Raptors fan, huh?
Biggest Question Mark:
Can DeMar DeRozan take a big step forward? The Raptors don’t just need DeRozan to improve: they need him to become a star overnight. While the Raptors spent the summer stripping down their roster and beginning a rebuilding process, DeRozan spent his impressing. He averaged 20.6 points in only 23.0 minutes per game at the Las Vegas summer league, then lit up LA’s legendary Drew League for 46 loud points. It’s probably too much to expect DeRozan to seize the go-to role, but the Raptors could really use it.
Most important newcomer:
Kleiza. But since I’ve already talked about him, let’s discuss Leandro Barbosa. Barbosa, as weird as it seems considering he wasn’t even a starter in Phoenix, is Toronto’s most accomplished player. He’s also coming off a down year in which his averages fell across the board. Is Barbosa still the Brazilian Blur, or was last season’s decline the start of a trend?
I’ll give you one hint: he’s not Patrick O’Bryant. Another hint: he’s in Miami trying to piggyback his way to a few titles. One last hint: he didn’t exactly make friends on his way out of Toronto.
Most compelling storyline:
I thought that no team could possibly be softer than the Raptors were last season. Then they traded for Leandro Barbosa, signed Amir Johnson and drafted Ed Davis. Now, I’m pretty sure this year’s version is even softer. Just call them Charmin.
Player to watch:
Andrea Bargnani. The Italian posted some pretty impressive stats: 17.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last year. But it’s the way he compiles said stats that’s disturbing. Play with some heart, Andrea. Stop somebody from scoring. Box out. Throw your body around. Get tough. Otherwise, your Raptors are really going to suck.
Descriptive movie quote:
“Slowly, a sound started to build in Lard-ass’ stomach. A strange and scary sound, like a log truck coming at you at a hundred miles-an-hour. Suddenly, Lard-ass opened his mouth, and before Bill Travis knew it he was covered with five pies worth of used blueberries. The women in the audience screamed. Bossman Bob Cormier took one look at Bill Travis and barfed on Principal Wiggins, who barfed on the lumberjack that was sitting next to him. Mayor Grundy barfed on his wife’s tits. But when the smell hit the crowd, that’s when Lard-ass’ plan really started to work. Girlfriends barfed on boyfriends. Kids barfed on their parents. A fat lady barfed in her purse. The Donnelley twins barfed on each other, and the Women’s Auxiliary barfed all over the Benevolent Order of Antelopes. And Lard-ass just sat back and enjoyed what he’d created — a complete and total barf-o-rama!” – Gordie, Stand By Me
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010-2011 Toronto Raptors: a complete and total barf-o-rama.
Projected Record: 15-67. I know I said I was going to start at the bottom and work my way up, but somehow my drafted rankings left out the Raptors. I may be the first, but I won’t be the only one who tries to forget about them this season.