A Raptor Season of Hope, Questions and Expectations

Yesterday was a busy day. Had an interview with Jack Armstrong in the morning and then wrote a piece on why everyone is so excited about Jonas for the folks at the Bleacher Report. If you would like to go and check that out please do. Also I encourage DNB readers to leave your comments there. I try to respond to folks where ever it may be in terms of the DNB. So I have never pushed the comments section here. For the stuff on The Bleacher Report they value comments on their articles so feel free to chime in there about anything I do for them.

Everyone is starting to get really excited for the Raptors’ season and I am personally excited to be going down for my first media day since starting to cover the team back at Training Camp in Ottawa. I think with the number of new faces and the general excitement around the Raptors it was a good year to be a part of media day.

I will do my best to gather some good material for the Dino Nation Blog while in attendance. It is perhaps the last major event in a season that I have yet to experience, so I am not fully sure how much or how little I will end up with. In any case it has been a great experience having access to the Raptors going into I think the fourth year for me. Maybe it is the third. In any case this is the first season since Chris Bosh left town that there is actually some hope and expectations for the Raptors.

I wanted to expand on a point that Jack Armstrong made in our interview. The Atlantic Division has become a lot tougher as a division. The challenge for the Raptors to compete in such a division will be a tough one for the Raptors. The 16 games that Raptors will play in their division could be a defining of their season and how much they actually improve. In the long term the Raptors are going to face a challenge of if they are willing to spend money to compete. I don’t think there is any question that the Nets, Knicks and Celtics will all be willing to go above and beyond the tax threshold on a regular basis. The Raptors and the new ownership group will have to decide if they expect to compete in this division on heading in that same direction eventually.

For now the Raptors are hoping and banking on a lot of young talent to mature and grow into a base for this roster for the long haul. Vital seasons for a number of players on this roster like DeMar DeRozan, Andrea Bargnani, Kyle Lowry, Landry Fields and Ed Davis. An even younger wave led by Jonas with Terrence Ross and Quincy Acy will try to establish themselves.

Raptor fans are so eager for success. I am too, but I just feel that it is further away then most.  I am encouraged by the admission that Jose Calderon was not the answer at point guard. It is the first of many looking in the mirror moments the Raptors will have to make decisions about. They need to once and for all establish if Bargnani is capable of night in night out being a star in this league. If he isn’t than you need to at least consider your future with him long term. DeMar DeRozan needs to take his game to the next level and if he does the Raptors will have to decide on what he is worth in terms of the future. If he doesn’t they still will have to decide if they keep hanging on hoping for him to reach his full potential. If they are not willing to do that what there long term plan is with him.

Jack Armstrong called it a “Moment of truth” for those guys and it is for some others as well. Dwane Casey working with Bryan Colangelo are bringing in players that fit Casey's mindset as a coach. The players that were here prior to his arrival need to show they can be part of the program moving forward.

As crazy as it sounds the Raptors could finish fifth in the Atlantic Division and miss the post-season but still be on the right path. What the Raptors need out of this season is answers to questions. In the past this franchise has held out hope to long in certain cases and it has cost them. If you correct a mistake sooner rather than later it is for the best. In some cases Bryan Colangelo has been willing to do that. In others he has been far more stubborn.

What is great, regardless of all of that, is we have a season to look forward to which is a far cry from what we had last year.  

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