DNB has been on a little mini-break as I got a year older and Ti-Cats being in Grey Cup. Prior to both of those events I was back at the ACC to watch the Raptors take on the Wizards. Much like a couple games prior the Raptors blew a lead but rallied to take home the win the game. Keeping them on top of the Atlantic Division and they still are entering tonight. A full game ahead of Philadelphia and three games in front of both the 3-10 Knicks and Nets tonight’s opponent.
That is the biggest thing that has thrown the Raptors outlook upside down. It’s based on the fact that both teams in New York who were suppose to be battling for division title. The Knicks are banged up and injured with Chandler out and Felton too. The Nets have there key player in Deron Williams battling with a bad ankle. Garnett and Pierce who came over from the Celtics look suddenly much older in black and white after trading in the green and white.
The Raptors entered this season without a clear defined goal in terms of what they were looking to do. Philadelphia and Boston had clearly taken an approach to build through the draft and get as many lottery balls as possible. The Raptors now find themselves in a position that I would venture to say no one expected them to be.
If they were to even their record at 7-7 and beat the Nets it will make things interesting to say the least. The important date now becomes December 15th when trades can be made with all players under contract will be key. Where the Raptors stand at that point and how far New York and Brooklyn are behind them. It seems fairly clear the Nets and Knicks will look to try and turn their fate around. However both will have a tough time making deals to improve at this point.
The Raptors will embark on Western Conference trip that if they were successful would be a bit of a game changer. It makes you think the Raptors short term outlook could be better than expected but the long term outlook maybe taking a major hit.
The Raptors have no guarantees that Kyle Lowry and Rudy Gay would be Raptors a year from now. They both contract wise will have the chance to be free agents this summer. The Raptors miss out on the lottery in the best draft in many years which could spell disaster for the long term future of the franchise.
Even if both re-sign how really good is this group at the end of the day. Are they any better than Raptor team that won a division title and lost in the first round to the Nets?
Masai Ujiri has himself in a situation similar to the one that Colangelo had that year. Colangelo was forced into sticking with Sam Mitchell and things never would be better than that season for the Raptors. Ujiri has Dwane Casey in a contract year and could see him take this team to the playoffs and perhaps a division title. None of these things seemed like possibilities entering the season. Like the Raptors bully Kevin Garnett said to the world “Anything is Possible.”
It makes for a lot of tough choices as the season rolls along. The decisions get much easier if the Raptors were to fall from their lofty and unexpected perch a top the division. A win against the Nets will make a lot of this talk become justified as the Raptors would along with being in first have a perfect 3-0 record in the division.