Overall though, I feel that of all the teams in the NBA, the team that improved the most from the end of last year to the beginning of this year would have to be the Toronto Raptors. The differences are astounding when looking at the team before and after. There are only three players, four if you count the soon to be traded Marcus Banks, still on the team, and with the addition of Turkoglu, the Raptors have a fairly strong front five. The bench is greatly improved, which should allow the starters to rest, knowing they can hold the fort.
They were almost as bad at offensive rebounding as us (28th to our 30th). That felt great to write that. As bad as we are at offensive rebounding, we are tops in limiting opposing teams from getting offensive rebounds. I bring this up because we finished the season giving up only 34 more shots than we took. Toronto gave up a little over 150. That is just under a 2 shots a game.
I just scrolled through all the stats looking for some gem of a comparison. There is a general trend that the Raptors follow a lot of the patterns the Spurs follow. The major exception is defense though. The Raptors give up a better shooting percentage than they make themselves. They have more assists than us but are still in a negative margin to their opponents. One thing I really like about the stats is that the Raptors got to the line fairly well and were the top free throw shooting team in the league. That is very un-Spurs-like.
Remember the kids problem I had with the Magic’s logo? Well this is even worse. The franchise was named after the popular creatures in Jurassic Park, which was released three months before the NBA awarded Toronto their team. That’s a good way to date the name of your team (e.g. Mighty Ducks). And their logo includes a raptor in basketball shorts, a jersey, and sneakers. If this doesn’t scream “marketed toward children,” I’m not sure what will. It’s a clean looking image, which is good, but the name Toronto is too small.
4 – Chris Bosh, PF, Toronto Raptors
Four All-Star appearances and a Gold Medal in 2008 get CB4 this spot. His career averages of 19.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game don’t hurt either. Finished 2008-09 with a career-best 22.7 ppg.
Honorable Mention: Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals; Vincent Lecavalier, C, Tampa Bay Lightning