Well the schedule for both regular and pre-season is out and now the wait to season begins. Despite having a full roster, the Raptors sure do not seem like a finished product at this point. If you have hope for them winning more than 30-35 games it better not be. The point guard situation remains the same with Jack and Calderon. It is not a situation that is desirable, if it doesn't change. If we base things on the actions of the summer, it seems pretty clear Jarrett Jack will be the starter. Just based on salary alone that makes Jose Calderon not fit. This is not to mention, he has been being shopped the entire off-season. Clearly he has to be aware that he is not the Raptors choice. The fan base for the most part want him gone as well. He never lived up to the hype of being a potential All-Star as he was built up to be. I said, long before it was fashionable to do so that it was just insane to think that. Calderon is a one dimensional point guard, and for his detractors his lack of defense far out weighs anything he provides on the offensive end. The honest answer is he just can't defend at the NBA level.
The other major issue on this roster is the center position. It was always believed by many, that if Bosh left prior to Bargnani, that he would shift over to Bosh's power forward spot. However, it sure seems given the lack of depth at center right now, that is unlikely to happen. Solomon Alabi the Raptors second round pick and David Andersen acquired from Houston, are no where close to being starters, and might even be suspects as back-ups. Bargnani and his lack of rebounding at the 5 spot is a major concern. Amir Johnson at the four spot can rebound, but can he and the people behind him make up for the loss of Bosh's 10-12 rebounds a game? Meaning that above and beyond what we expect from individuals, is there 10 more rebounds in this team? Bargnani also seems over matched at times playing against his fellow 5's on the defensive end.
Clearly Colangelo has more work to do if he is going to turn this thing around. Since the ill fated Charlotte trade, the Raptors have not been able to do much. They tried signing Matt Barnes and that failed. They traded a 2nd round pick for the aforementioned Andersen. Then this week, the Belinelli for Wright deal which did at least adds some depth small forward spot. Questionable depth for sure, but depth none the less.
Even if the Young Guns all play beyond expectations and Bargnani does actually take the ball and run with it. Is that honestly enough to make this team a playoff team? I am not convinced it is. The one addition I do like a lot is that of Barbosa. He is not going to improve the defense though. Klezia for me is not exactly my dream small forward. Some peg him to be the starter. If it were me... I say we see DeRozan at the 2 and Weems at the 3. If this is going to be the Young Guns team why not have them play together in the starting 5. For anyone that watched summer league both Weems and DeRozan played like starters. Which the next line is true, in that "It is only Summer League".
I think the one thing we do know, regardless of who remains and goes prior to October 27th, is that this team is going to run. The Raptors are looking more like the Suns East, in terms of philosophy, than they ever have under Bryan Colangelo. While the Raptors talk about improving defense, it seems in reality that the want to run and outscore people. Which would require creating more turnovers to get out and run in transition. However, the question for the Raptors becomes how will they react to how people react to them. No longer do you have a player like Bosh that automatically demands a double team. So, if teams shift those double teams to a guy like Bargnani, can he still score at same level? That is a question to be answered. Can Demar DeRozan turn into a guy that could be worthy of teams considering double teaming him? I think for me he is the key part to this puzzle. If he can grow into a viable second option to Bargnani that would be huge for the Raptors. That is expecting a lot from a kid that had a decent first year. A year that for many despite being good fell short of expectations.
Lots of questions and few answers, and all we can do at this point is wait. But unlike in past years, for many it is like a kid worrying about what punishment his parents are going give him for smashing the car. It is not like in years past where people expect much from the Raptors. In fact, in the U.S there is no expectations for the Raptors. ESPN ranks them dead last in the East with just 27 wins. Nice stuff for Jay Triano to stick on a bulletin board, but can this team take that motivation and do anything with it? Again, only time will tell.
Enjoy the weekend and see you all Monday as we continue the wait.