Inspired by John Hollinger’s article on ESPN, I am going to do the same thing, take a look at the off-season and predict how many wins the Raptors would get. If there is enough time and enough responses, I might do all 30 teams. I am just going to do the off-season stuff and not the 08-09 recap since there really is no point. So here we go:
Team: Toronto Raptors
Projected Starting 5: Calderon, DeRozan, Turkoglu, Bosh, Bargnani
1) Traded Jason Kapono for Reggie Evans. Kapono isn’t worth his contract in his best year, and last year was a really bad one for Kapono; he didn’t shoot the ball as well as in previous years and watching him travel and play ‘defense’ is painful for most Raptor fans. Getting Evans is important, he can rebound and he is ‘tough’. On a team that doesn’t have either component, it’s a good trade. Add to the fact that Kapono has a bigger contract, chalk this one as a easy trade to make for the Raps. Grade B+
Draft DeMar DeRozan. In a stronger draft, DeRozan may end up going in late first round (see Donte Green in 2008 draft). But this is one of the weakest draft in recent years, so DeRozan is as good a pick as any in that position. He has the most upside, but probably won’t be ready for a couple of years. If DeRozan can learn to handle the ball better and improve his shooting range, then the Raptor coaching staff should be very happy. Of course, he could turn into another Gerald Green. Grade B
Signing Hedo Turkoglu to a 5 year 53 million dollar contract. It’s not a good deal in the long term, no matter how you spin it. Turk is 30 already and one has to wonder how many productive years he has left. In the short term, it’s a huge upgrade. The team needs someone who can create on the wings ever since Vince Carter left town. If the Raptors can get 3 good years out of Turkoglu, then they should be satisfied (they may even be able to trade him). Too much long term risk for me. Grade C-
Sign and Trade to get Turkoglu, Antoine Wright and Devean George. This is the move that saves the off-season. Without this move, the Raptors would have to settle for minimum contracts to fill out the roster. They even get a guy who actually plays defense in Wright and Devean George is an important piece for later on. Grade A
Signed Jarrett Jack to a 4 year 20 mil contract. I like this move, I have been of Jack since his Georgia Tech days. I thought he could be the next Chauncey Billups, while that never materialize, he’s still a pretty decent combo guard who is very durable and good defensively. Definitely an upgrade over Ukic and Solomon. I have less problem with this contract than Turkoglu because Jack is younger and it’s not a huge amount. Grade B
Traded George to Golden State for Marco Belinelli. This is a no risk move. I am not sure what Nellie is thinking but giving up a young player for a veteran who can’t play anymore is insane. Belinelli if healthy, can provide a huge spark off the bench for the Raptors. He can shoot and handle the ball very well. Grade B+
Signed Rasho Nesterovic for one year, $1.9 million. A great bargain. Rasho can still play and he actually fills a need for this team. He can defend against the bigger centers in the league (Shaq, Howard). Teams are paying Desagna Diop for the entire mid level exception, and Rasho is a better player (even at his age) than Diop and the Raptors get him for a song. Grade B+
Signed and traded Carlos Delfino to Milwaukee, along with Roko Ukic, for Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems.
With Belinelli coming over, Delfino’s future with the team is pretty much over. So basically, this is a trade to get something instead of nothing at all. At least Johnson has some upside, very athletic and if he can stop fouling, he may be useful (note to coaching staff, do not put Amir Johnson as a backup SF). Weems is a throw-in, I doubt he will get any playing time, he could be waived if something better comes along. Grade B-
Signed Andrea Bargnani to a five-year, $50 million extension. This move puzzles me. I know Colangelo likes Bargnani quite a bit (otherwise he wouldn’t draft him as the number 1 pick in 2006), but paying a guy 50 million dollars for 4 months worth of productivity is insane. It’s not like there are teams lining up to pay him 50 million dollars next season when there are loads of UNRESTRICTED free agents available next season and he will be a restricted free agent and the Raptors can match any offers if they want to. I would rather have him prove that those last 4 months is not a fluke before giving him that kind of contract. Grade C-
Jay Triano as the head coach and hired Marc Iveroni as the lead assistant coach. I am not a big fan of Triano, and I don’t agree with some of the things he preached last season, especially on defense. He asked the team to switch defensive assignment at every opportunity, which is idiotic. It ends up having a mismatch against us every time and the bigs are so far out of rebounding position that the other team ends up getting offensive rebounds. Hopefully, Iveroni can change things. I think it’s a good move to bring him in, and let him concentrate on defense. We will see if he can do better than Triano in that regard. Grade C
Predicted Outcome: Well, the team won 33 games last season with a starting 5 of Calderon, Parker, Marion, Bosh and Bargnani. This year starting 5 may be a little better than last season’s but not by much. We did improve our bench quite a bit but is it enough to become the 4th seed in the East? The offense should be fine, but defense and rebounding could be a major issue. If the Raptors can be league average on defense, then they can achieve that goal pretty easily, since the offense should be pretty darn good. My prediction: 45 wins. If Bosh has a monster year, 50 wins.
Tags: Toronto Raptors