After starting the season off 8-11 it seemed like this team really wasn't as bad as people had made them out to be, but never could we have expected that they would go 5-24 over their next 29 games and currently be in the midst of a 12 game losing streak. I get that they aren't the best defensive team, and have been hit by the injury bug a ton this season, but the makeup of this team is just wrong and if it remains this way for a while, then Raptors fans should get used to the annual trip to the Draft Lottery.
First and foremost, this whole building around Bargnani thing has got to end, because he just isn't suited to be a franchise player. How can this team be successful if they're building around a guy who is 7 feet tall and can't play defense or grab a rebound to save his life (has only recorded 1 double-double on the season). Even if you look around the NBA, there aren't much teams who are building around bigs anymore, as it has now become a league primarily dominated by elite and all-star caliber guards/wings. Those few teams that do build around a big, like Dallas and Orlando has surrounded that player with suitable teammates who won't obstruct that players game. Bargnani on the other hand plays more like a wing player, since he prefers to be on the perimeter and thus the other wing players have to adjust to that and adjust their play to suit his game. So going forward Bargnani should be moved to more of a third fiddle type role and allow the guards to control the flow of the offense. But even that would have to take some time to implement since DeMar isn't quite ready to be the franchise guy, but he's almost there.
Another issue with this team is there are way too many PF's and no true C. For some reason Colangelo chose to resign Amir long-term, draft a PF in Ed Davis and with Reggie and Bargnani the team has 4 PF, all of whom aren't cut out to play that C position. Even with the newly signed Ajinca, the team still lacks an intimidating presence in the post since, Ajinca is, as it turn out, another jump-shooting big. Not sure if Colangelo really like shooters or something, but there has to be a limit with all these perimeter bigs he keeps bringing in. With the trade deadline approaching you'll think he'll probably go out and acquire a big, but giving the state of the team currently, opposing GM's will know he's desperate and thus ask for more in return. If he's unsuccessful then, the other options to get a true center would be the draft and free agency.
If the Raptors do get a top 5 pick in this year draft it seems like they'll most likely select the Turkish big man, Enes Kanter, who seems like a really solid player. To see for yourself check him out here when he dominated the 2010 Nike Hoops Summit. Though he may be undersized at 6'10", he seems like a pretty tough player, who will be able to do the dirty work in the post and actually fight for rebounds. And seeing as he is the top ranked big in the draft it'll be best for the Raptors to select him if other team hasn't done so already. But with a possible NBA lockout looming, some players may choose not to declare for the draft, so you never know how things may change. You can check out the ESPN NBA Mock Draft Lottery game here, to see other possible selecting for the Raptors.
Yet another issue with this team seems to be stability. Each summer there's always like 5 or 6 new players and with that the team really hasn't had a consistent group of players with have played together for a long period of time other than Jose and Andrea. Though Colangelo has said that this year is a retooling year, it seems like he's been retooling every year with the number of players he gets rid off and signs each offseason. This then proves to be a disadvantage to the coaches since they now have to get used to the way these new players play and implement them into the offense. Not to mention that the players now have to develop chemistry on the court with each other all over again. Then there's the whole thing with Colangelo giving players huge contracts which they aren't even worth.
Now I can write a novel about all the things that need to be addressed with this team right now, but lets end with some positives here. The main positive for this team seems to be the play and continued development of DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis. DeMar showed flashes of what he could do at various times last season, but with Bosh and Bargnani both demanding their touches he never really got the opportunity he really needed. Now with Bosh gone, DeMar is not the teams second option and looks like he'll eventually be the first option as soon as next season, but for him to be the go-to guy he needs to make better decisions with the ball at times, get his teammates involved when he's having an off night, grab a few more rebounds and most importantly play good defense. He would also need to deal with the pressure of having opposing defenses focus primarily on him, which i doubt he'll have much problem with once he gets the experience. Ed on the other hand has shown that he can be a great defender and rebounder in limited minutes of play. He's even averaging more rebounds than Bargnani in 14 less minutes of playtime. Once he can improve his offensive game and decision making he'll be a solid player for this team, and may be the starting PF in a few years.
So what needs to be done to turn this team around, does there need to be a coaching change, do the Raptors need to acquire a star player or does the mastermind behind this catastrophe need to be shown the door? There's a saying that goes something like this, "to kill the snake you need to take out its head" and in this case the head of the snake is the one and only Bryan Colangelo. Colangelo is a great GM and always will be, but he has failed to really make this franchise successful and thus he needs to be shown the door. This is the final year of his contract anyways, so he may not be back next season, but if MLSE still thinks he can turn this team around and offers him a new contract, it'll be best if he ups his game, because he may be on a very short leash. Hopefulyy he and Triano can get their acts together or they both will be packing their bags in May. Well thats enough of that for now, since there is quite a while before the season ends, but we'll revisit this issue in the offseason.