Well, haven’t post here for a while. Might as well, blog my opinion on the moves made by the Toronto Raptors:
1) Draft DeMarr DeRozan: I have no problems with this one. He is very athletic, and only play one year in college, chances are that he will go through a lot of growing pains. He might start, but probably better off the bench. But in a weak draft, you might as well go for a guy who has the most upside.
2) Hedo sign and trade. This is the best move made by Colangelo as a GM with the Raptors. Now he can use MLE and LLE to add exception instead of minimums. In addition, we got Antoine Wright and Devean George. Both are expiring contracts. George is pretty useless now, but Wright can play defense and is a good defender with good size.
My thoughts on Hedo: He is a better fit for this team than Marion. He is definitely better in terms of age and if I am a betting man, Hedo will probably still be in the league after his contract ends, and I am doubtful that Marion will be. Hedo is a good ballhandler, who needs the ball in his hands to be effective. The Raptors needs that guy really badly ever since Vince Carter left. He can create his own shot while finding open man at the same time. He is not a great athlete, but at 6-10 he can shoot over most guards+forwards. An extremely tough matchup. Defensively, he isn’t special, but I think the team is looking at winning with offense, and this should work.
3) Andrea Bargnani extension: I’m not big on this move. It’s basically hedging the bet, if Bargnani can continue his improvement, then he is worth every penny. And he can certainly do that, but 50 mil is a huge commitment for a guy who has played 40 games of good basketball.
4) Signing Jarrett Jack for 4 years 20 mil. I have no issues with the length or the number. I like Jack ever since his days in Georgia Tech, he is a combo guard who is very strong and very good defensively. He can defend against SG or PG. Offensively, he can create his own shots, but very turnover prone. I would argue that he is probably better at SG than at PG. The Raptors get a very versatile player who can strengthen the team’s defense (a huge weakness last year) and back up Jose Calderon. Jack wouldn’t hurt you if he has to start. He will probably play 25-30 minutes a game and I am happy with this. Let’s hope Indiana won’t match.
5) Others. I would like to comment on the Jason Kapono trade for Reggie Evans. Good Riddance. I never want to see Kapono in a Raptor uniform ever again. Evans is probably good for 15-20 mins, he is an excellent rebounder, but not much else. This team is in desperate need of a guy who can hit the boards and play some D. Just don’t ask him to score. Also, because of the sign and trade, they can re-sign Carlos Delfino who should be a starter for this team, he can rebound and play D. He is extremely streaky with his shot, but it gives the Raptors another option on handling the ball. Another versatile player. Rasho Nesterovic is also in Raptors’ Radar, he can still play and become an excellent passer from the high post.
Overall: How good is this team? Let’s compare this roster to the one that won 47 games and we will assume that Jack, Delfino and Rasho signs.
47 win team starting unit: Ford, Parker, Garbo, Bosh, Rasho
This team starting unit: Calderon, Delfino, Hedo, Bosh, Bargnani.
Parker and Garbo were both excellent on defense, missing Garbo killed the Raptors in the playoffs. The 09-10 version is a better team on offense, but not as good on D.
47 win team bench (main rotation only): Calderon, Joey Graham, Bargnani, Morris Peterson, Humphries
09-10 bench (projected main rotation only): Jack, Rasho, DeRozan, Wright, Evans
The 09-10 bench is better in terms of defense than the 47 win team; may not be as good on offense.
So I will say this 09-10 team is about the same as the 47 win team. Now if Bosh has a monster year (which is entirely possible) then you got yourself a 50 win team. What I like about this team is the exact opposite of last year’s team (which I hated): We have a guy who can create on the wing and depth. Injuries do and will happen so depth is the most important thing for a 82 game season. And having a guy who can create on the wing gives this team some balance on offense which is missing for the last 3 years.