Injury insurance

Depth Chart:

PG: Calderon, Jack, Douby, Banks
SG: DeRozan, Belinelli, Weems
SF: Turkoglu, Wright
PF: Bosh, Evans, Johnson
C: Bargnani, Nesterovic, O’Bryant

Where can an injury hurt us the most?

PG: An injury to Calderon will result in Jack moving over to handle starting duties making Douby the backup point. This could be the most realistic injury scenario heading into this year. Calderon’s still got a lot to prove in terms of staying fit for 82, and I’m not being pessimistic when I say that a hamstring could chop 20 games out of his season. An injury here has a two-fold effect, it not only increases Jack’s minutes at the point, it decreases his minutes at the off guard where we’re both unproven and thin. Then again, there aren’t many teams in the league that can lose their starting point guard and not scrape the bottom of the bench to find minutes. Given the acquisition of Jack and Turkoglu’s ability to run an offense, I’d say we have sufficient insurance in case of an injury to Calderon, although his efficiency cannot be replaced. The guy doesn’t take bad shots, is careful with the ball and when healthy, can make the defense pay. We’re definitely liable to suffer on offense if he’s out, but not nearly to the extent we did last year.

SG: Unlike most I’m not expecting much out of DeMar DeRozan early on. He’s got a chance to be a solid NBA player but it’s far too soon to expect consistent production out of him. An early injury to him will hurt our transition game and defense because we’ll lose athleticism at the wing, but Wright can make up for that on defense and the erratic Belinelli is capable of providing the scoring punch, arguably more than DeRozan. We’re not loaded at the 2 and losing DeRozan for a bunch of games will hurt his development far more than the team. Ideally, he’d be playing the role of Courtney Lee, in other words, the defense forgets that he’s on the floor because there are far more dangerous threats on the floor. I don’t see that happening with the Raptors and he’s going to have to work hard to get his. Jarrett Jack and Marco Belinelli are the other variables but you’d think Belinelli is ahead of Jack in the depth chart given size and scoring ability. Losing Belinelli would mean losing the only true scorer off the bench and a trade or signing would have to be made because it would leave us with Sonny Weems as the second wing off the pine.

SF: An injury to Turkoglu and the season’s over. There’s just too much riding on his scoring, play-making, and passing ability that if he goes down we’ll become a slightly more athletic version of last year’s pre-Marion team with a better option at the backup point. He’s been looked at as the answer to our fourth quarter woes, he’s supposed to take the pressure off of Calderon so he can knock down clean outside looks, he’s supposed to run the PNR with Bosh like he did with Howard, he’s supposed to be a double-team threat, he’s supposed to guard the 3-spot, along with Jack he’s supposed to be the magnet that keeps Bosh in Toronto. There is no backup plan here, both Belinelli and Wright are too steep a drop-off to even entertain discussion.

PF: We were 2-3 without him last year and 3-12 the year before that. The dependency on Bosh had a lot to do with Sam Mitchell’s unimaginative offense which relied on him heavily in every single set. The talent on the roster didn’t help the W-L record without him but it should be noted that the team actually played “team basketball”, the results weren’t there but anybody watching would’ve noticed the improved ball-movement and cohesion in the unit. It was as if the shackles of conformity had been lifted and we didn’t have to run the bloody high PNR every time. It was a reminder that catering to your star’s fairly limited offensive abilities isn’t the way to go. That being said, if Bosh goes down we lose our main double-team threat which can suffocate an offense if the coach doesn’t have some trickery in his playbook. We would also lose our best rebounder and arguably our most athletic player. You can’t buy insurance for Bosh and if he goes down there’s nothing Amir Johnson can do to make up for it. I do have a twisted wish – that the team get to play without Bosh for 7-10 games this season so Triano and the players can see that they don’t have to depend on him and that if we play team basketball, we can be respectable. I think with the improved talent on the roster we’d fare better than in years past, although the post-season would be impossible.

C: Hard to quantify the impact of missing Bargnani because he hasn’t been consistent enough to expect anything from so far in his career. I’d like to think he’s an important part of the team and missing him would be a death-blow, but I just don’t see him being out for 20 games making that big of a difference. Our style of play will change and we’ll see a more traditional offense with Rasho clogging the paint instead of Bargnani parked on the outside. We’ll definitely miss the three-point threat but overall, it’ll result in a different Raptors team, not sure we’d be much worse off. See, I feel that if you take Bargnani’s shots and distribute them amongst Turkoglu, Jack and Calderon, you’d end up with the same offensive throughput. This is of course based on his 50% crappy and 50% good career so far. I think if Evans or Rasho goes down we’d be in a world of hurt because it’ll significantly impact our rebounding and put greater pressure on Bosh and undue pressure on Johnson to step up.


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