Chris Bosh has been playing a key role for the Miami Heat as they lead the Thunder 2-1 in the NBA Finals. I mentioned on Friday how the the Raptors no matter what they may say after he has gone, were ill prepared to have him walk. Ultimately, when you think about the Raptors now they have basically just elevated Andrea Bargnani to the roll of Bosh on their roster. In comparing the two players they offer a much different skill set at first glance. Bosh would always be considered a better rebounder and Bargnani a better shooter. Still both at times have been questioned for their desire to defend and do the dirty work. In some senses the Raptors are still following the same model that they failed to have success with under Bosh. Bargnani quickly replaced Bosh in terms of his role on the team. The one role the Raptors have never replaced since he left was the one that Vince Carter filled with the Raptors. That dynamic small forward that could both attack the basket and make a poster, but still be able to hang out beyond the arc and bomb 3's at times.That is something the Raptors have not replaced. Demar DeRozan has half that equation in being able to attack the basket and make spectacular finishes. He lacks that three point threat to truly be taken seriously by a defense to worry about him.
The Raptors ultimate problems might not be all that different without Bosh as they were with him. I don't think Andrea Bargnani is a significantly better player than Bosh or every will be unless the Raptors fix these problems. Can Bargnani have more success than Bosh did if the Raptors find a dynamic wing option and a better point guard to attack the basket? Probably they can but they had seven years of trying to find those things with Bosh and were never able to find that proper mix. Another thing that was missing was a true center that could rebound and defend. The Raptors hope they have found that piece in Jonas Valancuinas. In many ways could develop into the Anti-Bargnani. If he can make up for Bargnani's lack of rebounding and have his back as help defender it could make for a nice pairing. Still, without that dynamic wing and attacking the hoop point guard the Raptors remain somewhat flawed.
Andrea Bargnani is no more a 1a player than Chris Bosh was. He just isn't that guy even if you believe the guy that exploded for about a stretch of 13 games is the real Andrea Bargnani moving forward. The one good thing about Bosh leaving has been it has allowed Andrea Bargnani to play at his natural position and even if it is just from a mental point of view, he is more comfortable at that spot. Ultimately the Raptors problems before Bosh and after him still are basically the same ones including the fact that Bosh ultimately left and went elsewhere.
It has always been a source of frustration for the Raptors top star whoever that happened to be to recruit players to come here to play along side them. Some will tell you if the Raptors start winning the players will come. Really think this is honestly true? I mean you may hate him now, but Vince Carter was at one time in Toronto considered one of the best players in the league and likely was the most popular. Raptors were winning and appearing on national T.V in the United States. What was he able to attract to the Raptors in terms of free agency? The answer is not much except of a past his prime Hakeem the dream that quickly turned into a Raptor nightmare. If he can't get anyone to come in that position on top of the NBA map can we honestly think that Chris Bosh could have or Andrea Bargnani and Demar DeRozan can?
Basically the Raptors are a team that by and large has had to build a team with only 2 of the 3 major components you have too build a franchise. In the time Bosh was here the Raptors would never venture into that level of being a tax team with greater penalties for being one the Raptors are no more likely to do that with Bargnani. In fact, Colangelo all but said that would be the case for this upcoming season. If you are not going to over spend a little and being willing to go that extra mile to try and change the Raptors free agency fortune it is going to be hard to see a solution to this problem.
Friday I was talking about hope and not so much today. Still if you want some hope of how the Raptors fix this problem in free agency I will give you a long term answer. You clearly have noticed that basketball has had a lot more talented Canadians playing the game these days. Legit Canadian Draft prospects are now becoming the norm and not the exception. If enough of these Canadians develop into true NBA players the Raptors will have a pool of free agents that would actually value the Raptors differently. The idea of coming home and playing here might be to much to pass up. Steve Nash has manged to avoid the temptation of it. Still as the numbers increase of Canadians not all of them will be able to resist you have to figure. This solution is not keeping Bryan Colangelo his job or helping out in the short term unless you in fact sign Nash. Over time though the Raptors need to consider this as their one advantage they have in free agency.
I guess what I am saying is the Raptors are still a team that is trying to build around primarily a power forward that has some obvious flaws but some obvious talent. So really has anything changed in terms of the game plan for the Raptors? Not so much I guess.