There’s a point to this season, right? That’s what I keep telling myself, that this season was a necessary step in getting to where the Raptors want to be. Nobody’s quite sure where that is, or when it might happen, but conventional wisdom and history says that things usually get worse before they get better. How worse? 60-losses worse. That’s where the Raptors are headed, with four surefire defeats on the schedule it’ll come down to games against Milwaukee and New Jersey to avoid that dubious mark. Sixty is only a number, and doesn’t even bother me that much, except that it screams “We suck!”.

And maybe suck was what the doctor had ordered this season, except that suck didn’t seem to bring much in terms of positives along with it, DeRozan and Davis’ mild development being an exception. Sonny Weems didn’t quite take the step the fans or the Raptors marketing department hoped he would, Andrea Bargnani didn’t prove himself to be any better or worse without Chris Bosh, and Amir Johnson projected out to his increase in minutes. The pre-season playoff talk didn’t hold water to begin with, and as the reality of losing set in, it became evident that there’s lots of work to be done and that work includes finding out who the “core” is.

There isn’t a player on this roster that could be labelled untouchable, and I’m glad that that’s the case. This franchise wasted plenty of years trying to build around a shoddy “star” in Chris Bosh, and repeating that mistake could be fatal to basketball in Toronto. Greatness was thrust upon Chris Bosh in this city and the experiment ended up in shambles, doing the same with Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan is setting up for failure. As of this day, none of the players on the roster have shown that they can be a future Top 20 player in the league, there’s been glimpses of greatness here and there, but if you watch enough NBA basketball, you know that scrubs everywhere have 20 point games on a nightly basis.

At the same time, a team can’t afford to overhaul every summer, and the reality is that the Raptors will take forward the core of DeRozan, Davis, Johnson and perhaps Bargnani into next year. So what do you with these guys next year? If there is going to be a season, the target for next year has to be 40 wins. That’s a number that signals that a team is good, but lacking a piece or two to take them to the next level. That’s the number where fans can get excited about the future, knowing that they have a stable base. It’s the number that the Raptors have to get to which will signal that they’ve overcome the loss of Chris Bosh and have started anew.

How do you get to 40 wins? Improve defensively. You know the stats, you’ve seen the games, the Raptors are a terrible defensive team (dead last in the NBA for the second straight season) with problems ranging all the way from schemes to personnel to attitude to accountability and the list goes on. There is no hope for this franchise if they don’t become, at the very least, a middle-of-the-pack defensive team by next season.

Personnel-wise, to get there you have to find an excellent defensive point guard, and a center that can serve as an anchor. As nice and cozy of a person and player Jose Calderon is, and as much as he leads the team in steals, he has to vacate the starting point guard spot. I also don’t see any way Andrea Bargnani can become even a passable defensive starter at this point. I’ve watched every Raptors game this season and that too with great detail with a pen and a pad in my hand, and let me tell you that he is easily the worst defensive starting center in the league. I’ve given him plenty of chances to show me that he’s slightly capable of holding his own and being counted on defense. Nothing. Don’t get me wrong, he’s far from the problem, but the position he plays pulls him into sharp focus when the overall team defense is bad.

And the coach, of course. Jay Triano’s pulling of Jerryd Bayless against the Clippers in the fourth left me scratching my head to the point where my scalp was bleeding. Forget about X’s and O’s, his blown last-minute plays, and the game-management for a second, he’s been here for close to three full seasons and cannot get these guys to play any defense. Last year we made fun of Marc Iavaroni for failing us, this year maybe P.J. Carlesimo gets the burn, but the constant in all of this is Jay Triano. He has not gotten the job done. I’m not a hard man to please and would accept even an inkling of defense, however, he has delivered nothing on that front.

It’s become all too predictable as well, Triano goes to the zone in the second quarter to get the team back in the game by throwing the opponent offense off. In the third quarter he tries the same zone again which doesn’t work because teams adjust, and by the fourth quarter the Raptors are out of ideas and energy. Don’t let the mid-ranked offense fool you, the Raptors clutch scoring has been highly suspect; the NBA is still a league of runs and increasing the intensity when it counts, and when teams do that against the Raptors, nobody has been capable of stepping up.

James Johnson has had a nice end to the season, and is in line to be next season’s Sonny Weems of this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if raptors.com features him in their season ticket promos. Having said that, I’ll take him over Linas Kleiza who falls into the category of player contributing to the Raptors’ defensive demise. I have no clue if there were any takers for Leandro Barbosa, buf if they were, Colangelo is a fool for not trading him. While I didn’t want Reggie Evans traded at the deadline because of his expiring contract, it pains me to see him on the court at the expense of Ed Davis, or even Solomon Alabi for that matter.

The draft is an interesting problem. The theory goes that if a team has as many holes as the Raptors, it’s better off trading down or out, and filling two or three holes by trading away an overvalued high pick. The danger is that you’d be gambling with potential NBA has-beens instead of suckling on new blood. It comes down to how well the Raptors have scouted the draft. Is Kyrie Irving the answer at the point? Very debatable, in my opinion it’ll take him a couple years to become a half-decent point guard in the league. Harrison Barnes? Another year of school is what he needs. The tournament raised Derrick Williams’ stock and I love his aggressiveness, but we have a power forward, no? Play him at the three? If the Raptors fall out of the top four, the choices at point guard become the likes of Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight, players with weaknesses aplenty.

I would not be surprised if the Raptors traded their pick. Why? DeRozan and Davis are 21, Jerryd Bayless is 22, Amir Johnson is 23, James Johnson is 24, and if he’s around, Sonny Weems is 24. I’m not even counting players like Alabi and Ajinca, both under 23, and Bargnani who is 25. There is plenty of youth on the roster, it’s underwhelming youth but youth nonetheless. Colangelo could argue that another 19-20 year old isn’t exactly what the Raptors need, instead he could shift his focus on players like, and this is only an example, O.J. Mayo. A guy who’s got some experience, has gotten the hang of NBA travel and practices, and is looking for a permanent starting job.

If you want to fast-forward the rebuilding, trading the pick might be the answer. If not, then add another rookie, play him 35 minutes a night, and gear up for another 60-loss season. Either way, we’ll be watching because we’re Raptors fans and as much as I hate what this team does on the court, I do still love them.

  • Eggtodaythanchickentomorrow

    Clear and well explained. When talking about get rid of AB as raptors center I can agree. Why not move him at PF and let a Tyson Chandler or Nene kind of player come to Toronto. I m not convinced that Ed Davis is so happy to stay in Canada in the long run. Just my idea.

    • Nilanka15

      We’ve explored this idea many, many, many times (even Tom provided a Statophile post that looked at this suggestion). Conclusion: Bargnani as PF would not make any difference, regardless of who you had playing centre beside him. Pfs still need to rebound and rotate.

      A 5-man defensive unit needs to work together, as if attached to each other by strings. When one player moves, the rest should follow (and I’m not even talking about a zone defense). As a result, each player needs to be defensively aware of the ball, his man, and the hoop at all times…something that Bargnani has proven over and over again, throughout the entire course of his career, that he’s completely incapable of doing. The only place to “hide” his deficiencies, is on another roster.

      • KJ-B

        #7’s essentially played PF his entire career in Toronto–he pops to the three point line not the elbow… He’s always a healthy 5-10′ away from the hoop for offensive rebounds and mildly closer for defensive boards (don’t ask me how he has foot problems when the only time he jumps is for a fall away j)…He’s no ‘ReboundBall’ stud that’s for sure!

  • nate

    “…if you watch enough NBA basketball, you know that scrubs everywhere have 20 point games on a nightly basis.”

    Anybody who watches the Raptors is pretty familiar with that phenomenon. 😛

  • whattt

    LOSE 60 WIN 40 then get rid of BARGNANI. GET HIM OUTTA HERE BC. shii I just made a rap LOL

  • whattt

    What the hell is the raps gonna do with OJ mayo?

    • Nilanka15

      Bringing in Mayo, would probably mean losing DeRozan….an idea I wouldn’t be completely against.

      • pran

        if a derozan package could somehow net us a top 5 pick and we could get mayo, I wouldn’t be against trading him…..

      • Cal

        You’d take Mr.PED over DeRozan? Whew, good thing you’re not a gm.

      • KJ-B

        You’re by yourself…by yourself.

        • Nilanka15

          I think we’re underestimating just how good Mayo is. Look up his numbers from his first 2 years in the league. He’s the polished SG we’re all hoping DeRozan turns into.

  • Matt52

    “Don’t let the fifth ranked offense fool you, the Raptors clutch scoring has been highly suspect…”

    Last year the Raps were 5th in the league for points scored and offensive rating. This year they are 17th in points scored per game and 22nd in offensive rating.

    • Arsenalist

      Thanks for pointing that out, was flipping between the two seasons, wrote the wrong one down.

  • Milesboyer

    If trading the pick is the difference between a 40 win season and a 22 win (60 loss) season, as you suggest, then that’s a hell of a trade! This offseason has so many unpredictable variables that it is almost impossible to know what next season will look like. Between the lockout, Colangelo’s status, his tendency to wheel and deal in ways we can’t guess, the Bargnani rumour, the unknowns of this year’s draft, Triano’s status……it’s like playing roulette. You could create 30 different scenarios and any one of them could come to fruition. It seems like the only players who are a lock to be on the team next season would be DeRozan and Ed Davis (maybe). As it stands now the “core” looks very weak and I would say another bad year is due so more assets can be accumulated. Let’s suppose the lockout lasts half the season – would sucking for another half season be so bad in order to get a high pick? I don’t know if this organization has the patience to rebuild properly, but if they don’t they’ll just be going through another cycle of mediocrity.

    • Arsenalist

      Not saying trading the pick is the solution, but I an see Colangelo having a case in justifying it. I agree, another 60-loss season is probably on the cards unless there’s some very unforeseen off-season activity and Colangelo actually does good.

    • voy

      – yeah, plenty of youth, but none of the young players look like the type of guy that can lead you to the promised land

      – also you gotta figure (I do, at least) if a team, with a 5 or 6 guys under 24-25, can go from 20 wins to 40 wins, you are on the right track

      -if we do trade our pick I certainly hope its for another young player; just because we cant shore up all our holes in one draft doesn’t mean we should discount any possibility of success through the draft; this is year one of a rebuild, we shouldn’t have anything less than a 2-3 year window to put together a decent young team, in my opinion.

  • Daniel

    Arse, you never liked Jose and that’s OK. The guy has 9 assists/game without any shooters in this team. The opponent PG’s PER is 14.4 which shows he held up defensively pretty well at his position. It is the lowest opponent PER per position in our team. Waiting for the next defensive PG is like waiting for Godot. Jose and Barbosa are the only proven NBA players at a high level and they happen to have unique skillsets in our team: playmaking and creating off the dribble.
    If the core is DeRozan, Davis, Johnson and Bargnani then we are doomed. We may be doomed anyway for a variety of reasons. Only a complete clean-up at management and coaching level may give us another chance going forward. A new ownership also may help in bringing a new management team and coaching staff. The last 2 years have been epic failures and we are again the laughinstock of NBA. The hope in the draft is fool’s gold: where are Clippers with Griffin and Wizards with Wall today? And they were consensus number 1 pick in their drafts which is not the norm in every draft. Even with surefire franchise changing players drafted #1 last decade, where is Cleveland today and where do you think Orlando will be in 2 years? Only the Bulls show some promise however they were a good team before lucking into Rose and their play-off success is far from guaranteed.
    Losing is contagious. Some people seem to hope for more years of losing. In reality the good teams may suck for only 1 year, draft a quality player and then start winning again. Everybody else is just a farm team for the powerhouses of NBA. I’m afraid only an owner like Cuban would take us out from this vicious circle of mediocrity.

    • Nilanka15

      Did you honestly expect Griffin and Wall to drastically change the fortunes of their respective teams during the rookie seasons single-handedly….especially considering how awful the rest of their rosters are?

      Unless you luck into a Duncan or Lebron (arguably 2 of the greatest players of our generation, let alone their draft class), you need many more pieces to improve a team overall.

      If the Raptors draft Irving, Williams, or Barnes, will that be enough to put them over the top? Of course not. Then should we ignore these players? Of course not. The draft is simply one piece (and a very important piece at that) of the rebuilding puzzle.

      • Copywryter

        Even ‘if’ you luck into a LeBron you don’t win right away. It took the Cavs 3 years to make the playoffs. I think you’re bang on re: your view of the draft.

      • KJ-B

        Kemba Walker’s a lot stronger, has a game that’s closer to the floor that will allow him to play for years at the NBA level–any team that passes on him for the flash of Irving’s gonna regret it… ABSOLUTELY hate drafting players with foot issues, because sport is all about healthy feet… Love Kyrie’s game, but that’s a risk this franchise can’t afford to take!

    • Arsenalist

      Jose Calderon in combination with Andrea Bargnani on the starting unit will never comprise a good defensive team. Don’t think Bargnani’s going anywhere. Leaving that aside, the PER doesn’t show you missed rotations, giving up leak-outs etc. I have no hate or love for Jose Calderon, he has proven to be an excellent playmaker and has changes his game to suit the people around him, to his credit. I don’t see his defense in the same light as you do, never have and never will, having a PG of limited athleticism and quickness limits what kind of schemes a coach can deploy. This isn’t to exonerate Triano and his pathetic defense, simply looking forward to the next few years and thinking how our defense can improve. On a salary note, next year his contract almost becomes an asset as the year after he’s expiring.

      • Brado

        Neither Derozan brings any defense, besides he is the worst long range shooter of the team (0.098 3P%)

        • Nilanka15

          DeRozan gets a pass because he’s young. If his defense is just as awful in 1-2 years, then there will be a lot of folks here calling for his head.

          • Junior

            you dumb bitch. our teams god awful and emar erozan gets a pass? this is how dumb our fans are. lets just pin everything on bargs.

            • Nilanka15

              Fuck off fanboy. Get your Bargnani bobblehead outta yer ass

  • 511

    A solid take on this team of ours. I’d probably feel better on the whole if I knew they took occasional notice of your sound and sensible observations. I can only wish.

  • Mediumcore

    Interesting read. Especially the part about trading the pick which I was initially against. However if both Irving and Barnes are not attainable and a hard cap is in place then teams might be forced to give up a quality player for a top 5 pick. Was hoping though that the veteran leadership would come from the TPE instead.

  • Nilanka15

    Thanks to Sacramento winning 5 of their last 10 games, the Raps now possess the 4th worst record in the league. And with Washington winning last night, the Raps are only 2 games ahead of the 3rd worst record, with 9 games remaining. It’s entirely possible that we end up with either Irving, Williams or Barnes…

  • kimmy

    Trading the pick would not be fast-forwarding the rebuild, it would be abandoning the rebuild. If you are not rebuilding through the draft, the only thing you are building is a tower of horse flop.

    • barenakedman

      Not true. There is no guarantee that a top five draft pick will transition into the NBA game and make an immediate positive impact on his team in his rookie year. Looking at this years draft I don’t know who there is that is a can’t lose prospect that would be a better option than someone currently playing. If you think the team can’t take a chance on another twenty something win season, for whatever reason, trading such a valuable pick is a way of ensuring the team is going forward with something proven. Kind of like what Burke did to get Kessel. That being said how does it look when that draft pick you passed on wins ROY. So it is a tough call. I would also suggest that trading the pick is still building through the draft.

      • Ghotte

        But it’s about odds: Do you hope your draft picks ranging from 9 thru 20 somehow develop into impact players or do you take the high draft pick (read: high upside) and cross your fingers.

        A team like OKC had Durant and Green and picked up other high draft picks (Harden, Westbrooke, Ibaka) while learning the game. Plain talent.

  • sleepz

    Building around the youth that is currently on this team would be the greatest mistake of Colangelo’s tenure, and there have been quite a few doozy’s.

    You build around stars or at least elite talent and right now this team has none. It is a team of role players, some better than others but nevertheless is a team missing “it’s best player”. The draft has to be the place to find that whether it’s this year or next year or even the year after but to think a DeRozan or Bargnani is the type of youth to center your franchise around is going to get you fired eventually.

  • siggian

    All a 40 win season next year would do would be to put us on the mediocrity treadmill. It’s also unlikely.

    If there is a season next year, the Raptors are probably going to be another 60 loss team. I’m alright with that because there’s a lot of bit pieces on this team that are very young. What’s missing is that franchise player and the draft is just about the only way that the Raptors get that sort of player. The Raptors sucking is an important part of that.

    I have been zen with the losses this year. I can continue for another year easy.

    • Theswirsky

      I think it depends on how the Raps achieve 40 wins.

      If they do it because Demar and Ed Davis step up, Jose and Amir play consistently, and what ever other player (draft, trade, signing whatever) shows an impact both now and in the future than the team is looking good. If they do it because they sign, or trade for expereinced veterans and give them playing time, then you have a problem.

      We can’t expect this team to go from 20 wins to 60 wins in an offseason. That only happens in rare, rare cases (Boston). Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, OKC etc, all went through 40ish win seasons. Its a step the vast majority of teams (who rebuild) have to go through.

      40 win seasons are only a treadmill when they happen over and over again (ex. Charlotte Bobcats) … when its a stepping stone to the next level, its what the team should want and expect.

      • Nilanka15

        Agreed. 35-40 wins next year would be great if it meant the “kids” did most of the contributing. It would suggest that our core is hungry and improving…and with a few minor additions/deletions to the roster, could be in a position to win 45-50 games the year after.

        But if we traded our assets and assembled a bunch of Steve Nashes, Gilbert Arenas, Jermaine O’Neals and Turkoglus to reach 40 wins next year, the future obviously isn’t bright.

    • barenakedman

      +1. Agree that another year of 20-25 wins could be what the Dr. ordered. I’m a big Myck Kabongo fan and he’s looking to be as can’t miss as they come next year or the year after.

      • Moo

        So you believe high-schooler Kabongo has more potential than Irving or Williams or Barnes? That’s quite the guess. I’d take Williams – there are at least a handful of good PGs available and while none project as elite they are no worse (or better) than Jrue Holiday, Darren Collison, Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry, etc.

  • jlongs

    I’d trade the pick ( and then some) for a perennial all-star and franchise player (ie. Chris Paul), but not for serviceable starters that won’t get us anywhere. Our biggest problem, like some have said, is that our “core” hasn’t even been established, as the guys we have aren’t ready to take the franchise anywhere. They have yet to prove they deserve to be a “core.” That’s the problem with drafting potential, you have to wait for that potential to develop into what you hoped for. And waiting is what we’re going to be doing for the next couple seasons (at least).

    Right now, I’m not sold on Ed Davis bulking up enough (over the summer) to be able to handle guarding the starting 4s and 5s of the league. Same thing for Demar being able to guard his position. Therefore I’m not expecting much even next season. I’d be surprised if they won 40 with majority of the rotation players we have now.

  • VALIT

    Arse, I think your analysis is pretty correct even though I have to disagree with you on 2 facts. First and most important,in my opinion, to go into next year with a core of Davis, DD, Amir and JJ will guarantee another 20-30 victories a year. You need 3-4 veterans and they will not thru the draft.Since in my opinion, we need to address first our deficiencies at SF and C first, I will not trade Jose or Barbosa unless we are getting something amazing back. For better or worse these two guys can gel a team and with right pieces and/or played under right matchups we should not suffer. Second, everybody is expecting the draft pick like God’s gift on earth and I’m afraid his impact for the next year or two there impact will be at most average. I am against the idea of tanking to obtain a better draft choice because unless there is a special year, the damage done to the fans and to the perception of the organization is immense ( see TFC case). What we need is to build 1-2 bricks at a time but in the same time ask for accountability from MLSE and GM.

  • Harry S. Truman

    Is this article really declaring that nobody on the Raptors will ever be a Top 20 NBA star when – with the exception of Bargnani and Calderon – most of these guys are in still in their early 20’s?

    Toronto = Inferiority Complex.

    • Nilanka15

      This article is suggesting that at the moment, there isn’t anyone who has shown capable of being a Top 20 player.

      Yes, the majority of the roster is young, but there are certainly a lot of “young” players drafted within the past three years that seem to be improving at a much quicker rate than what we’re seeing in Toronto.

      For example:
      Horford**
      Noah
      W.Chandler
      A.Brooks
      G.Davis
      C.Landry
      M.Gasol
      Westbrook
      Love
      Gallinari
      E.Gordon
      B.Lopez
      Hibbert
      McGee
      Batum
      George Hill
      Ibaka
      Mbah a Moute
      T.Evans
      Curry
      Jennings
      J. Holiday
      Lawson
      T. Gibson
      Beaubois
      D. Blair

      Any 8 of these players would make a very competitive rotation.

      **The only player listed who was a Top 3 pick.

      • mountio

        Ok – lets not jump the gun here. You might not be the biggest DD or Ed D fans, but to suggest this whole list is developing at a better rate than them is a little more than harsh. Gallinari? Is this the real Nilanka or has AB hacked your account? Lets be serious.
        Of your list, Ive cut out the ones who you have a legit argument on, IMO. Obviously not cut and dry, but I think the list is MUCH shorter than you suggest. When you consider where Ed and DD were drafted (a lot of these guys drafted higher), its not THAT bad to be a raps fan (the big difference of course with most of these guys is who they are surrounded by .. much much better than Ed and DD)

        Horford**
        Noah
        M.Gasol
        Westbrook
        Love
        E.Gordon
        B.Lopez [was, but seems to be regressing .. jury still out]
        Ibaka [maybe]
        T.Evans
        Curry
        Lawson [maybe]
        D. Blair

        • Theswirsky

          I don’t think you can leave

          McGee
          Holiday
          Batum
          Jennings
          Chandler
          Ibaka

          off that list.

          (Ed I don’t think we can factor yet as he is a rookie)

        • Nilanka15

          “the big difference of course with most of these guys is who they are surrounded by .. much much better than Ed and DD”

          Wouldn’t the fact that Ed and DD play with a weak cast make their numbers more suspect? They’re given a lot of minutes, and aren’t disciplined for their mistakes, all in the name of development. Whereas a lot of the guys on the list, play for better teams with competition for minutes, who can’t necessarily provide playing time at the expense of losses. They’re improving despite these limitations. Shouldn’t that be taken into account?

          Don’t get my wrong, I like Ed and DD. But I just don’t see superstars in the making.

          • mountio

            Im not saying they are necessarily superstars .. but on your list, I would say only Westbrook, Horford, T. Evans (talent wise) and Love appear destined to have a chance at multiple all star games, let alone superstardom (right now, only Westbook in that category).
            My point on the surrounding cast is, take Ibaka .. sure he looks like a very solid player .. but he plays with KD and westbrook (and as a result isnt asked to do much outside his comfort zone to succeed). Same for D Blair in SA, George Hill, Noah, etc. Sure – they seem like solid players … but its easy to look good playing with the guys they do (see M Bonner). My comment isnt a numbers based one (I would guess, for example, DD has much higher usage than a lot of the guys I just listed) .. its a perception one, in that the guys on the good team get touted (correctly) as useful cogs in a good team, which they are .. but that does mean they are better overall players.
            Not that there is anything wrong with your list of guys .. but Id take DD (espeically considering is a 9th pick with one year of college) over a large portion of them .. (same goes for Ed, althoguh comparison is tougher given relative experience vs the list).

    • Copywryter

      I’d be willing to declare that nobody on the current Raptors squad will ever grow to be a top-20 player. The guy with the best chance is DD, but he lacks deep range and has a suspect handle to go along with underwhelming defensive numbers. ED, as nice as he is to watch, hasn’t proven anything. AB is what he is, a sixth man.

      There are dozens of incredible NBA players, most of whom are also in their 20s. Our young guys will get better, surely So will they.

      Toronto = Inferiority Complex?

      Toronto = Inferior.

    • Brandon

      If you examine history you’ll see that all-nba quality players do not take long to develop. One year, at most. Jordan was the best player in the league at 21 from the moment he started playing in the league.

      Players who really make a difference in terms of wins and losses do so from the start of their careers.

  • http://profiles.google.com/ebrian Brian Y

    It’s funny.. Reading this article and seeing “60” is actually shocking to me, even though I made a preseason prediction of 22 wins. I guess I was able to picture 22 wins as a possibility but but never thought about how many losses that would entail.

    Holy crap.. 60 losses. That’s so pathetic!

    • Raptor4Ever

      Especially when you consider that this GM has been here five years, had 100% support from the organization to bring his player and his own staff in and … I predicted 15-25 wins and it seems like 20 we are right in the middle of that but I too, felt that we see promises of bright future.

      I am sad to say, I see nothing of that sort, no plans, no direction, no team identity and … The season started with the promo of young guys ( Weems, DD, Amir) and leadership of Jack and it is ending up with JJ traded and Weems in his way out of the door.

      This year , they will use James Johnson, DD, Ed, Bayless and Amir in their promo and I am willing to bet that by middle of next season 3 of those guys will be proven Busts as well.

      • http://khandorssportsblog.com/wordpress khandor

        Amen.

  • Copywryter

    It would take a miracle for this team to get to 40 wins in the near future. There doesn’t seem to be an MJ or BronBron in this draft, and the 80s bulls and modern cavs didn’t even win even with the GOAT and GOAT-lite until year 4-ish. How can you expect the Raps to get there soon?

    The reality is that it will likely take 5-8 years, using the blueprint of the Atlanta Hawks, OKC and perhaps even today’s Clippers (did I just write that?). Trouble is, you could also end up like the Kings or the Pacers – endlessly mired in sub-awful.

    Either way, we’re likely looking at Ballpocalypse Now for next year and the year after . . . and maybe a while longer.

  • http://khandorssportsblog.com/wordpress khandor

    40 wins for the Raptors next season?

    This shift upward would necessitate the demise of the following teams in the East:

    1. Chicago … Rose-Korver-Deng-Boozer-Noah-Watson-Bogans-Brewer-Gibson-Asik
    2. Miami … Chalmers-Wade-James-Haslem-Bosh-Bibby-House-Jones-Miller-Anthony-Pittman-Ilgauskas
    3. Boston … Rondo-Allen-Pierce-Garnett-Krstic-Bradley-West-Green-Davis-Murphy
    4. Orlando … Nelson-JRich-Turkoglu-Bass-Howard-Arenas-Redick-QRich-Anderson-Orton
    5. Atlanta … Hinrich-Johnson-Williams-Smith-Horford-Teague-Crawford-Powell-Pachulia
    6. New York … Billups-Fields-Anthony-Turiaf-Stoudemire-Douglas-Walker-ShaWilliams
    7. Philadelphia … Holiday-Meeks-Iguodala-Brand-Hawes-Williams-Turner-Young-Nocioni-Speights
    8. Indiana … Collison-George-Granger-Hansbrough-Hibbert-Price-Rush-DJones-Dunleavy-Posey-SJones-Foster-Stephenson
    9. Charlotte … Augustin-Henderson-Jackson-Diaw-Brown-Livingston-Carroll-Najera-McGuire-Cunningham-Thomas-White-Przybilla-Diop
    10. Milwaukee … Jennings-Salmons-Delfino-LRMAM-Bogut-Boykins-CDR-Redd-Maggette-Gooden-Brockman-Ilyasova-Sanders

    none of which seem particularly likely to be on the decline, quite as soon as that … and, the continued stagnation of the following teams:

    11. Detroit … Stuckey-Hamilton-Prince-Jerebko-Monroe-Bynum-Gordon-McGrady-Daye-Summers-Villanueva-Maxiell-Wilcox-Wallace
    12. New Jersey … Williams-Morrow-James-Humphries-Lopez-Farmar-Vujacic-Ross-Outlaw-Wright-Petro-Gaines-Uzoh-Gadzuric
    13. Washington … Wall-Young-Howard-Lewis-McGee-Crawford-Evans-Booker-Sraphin-Jianlian-Blatche-Martin-Ndiaye
    15. Cleveland … Sessions-Parker-Jamison-Hickson-Varejao-Davis-Gibson-Gee-Harris-Graham-Eyenga-Samuels-Harangody-Hollins-Erden

    which all look as though they will have just as many up-and-coming prospects as the Raptors will next season.

    • Nilanka15

      It’s only a matter of time until Boston’s age catches up with them.

      Howard’s in a contract year next year, so there could be a “circus” in Orlando all season long which distracts the team…unless he signs an extension.

      New York might be forever mired in mediocrity, unless they start playing defense (which isn’t guaranteed in a D’Antoni system).

      And I don’t think anyone sees Milwaukee or Charlotte taking a huge leap upwards.

      A lot of speculation, I know…but there is room for the Raptors somewhere between 7-9. It probably won’t be next year, but hopefully in 2012-13.

      • http://khandorssportsblog.com/wordpress khandor

        There is certainly room for the Raptors to move up, if each of Boston, Orlando, and New York fall apart. This does not seem likely to happen, however, with the annual financial commitment each of those teams is prepared to make going forward.

        Philadelphia, Indiana, Milwaukee and Charlotte do not have to take a “big step up” next season to keep Toronto in the lower portion of the East, all they have to do is stay exactly where they are, and not go backwards, since each of them has already STEPPED OVER the Raptors THIS season.

        Detroit is much closer to being a solid contending team once again than many others realize. All the Pistons need to do to become a legit contender for the #7-8 spots in the East is find a better coach than John Kuester and Michael Curry.

        • yertu damkule

          i think what people tend to miss is that it’s not necessary for teams like boston, orlando, NY, etc. to completely bottom out…they’ll all still be competitive. they might not all be chip contenders, but they’ll certainly be playoff-calibre teams (at worst). it’s not like the raps are going to be fighting for top-4 positioning in a couple years, so even if the above teams do have significant drop-offs, all that means is that it will be THOSE teams that the raps will be fighting with to make the playoffs, instead of the IND/MIL/DETs of the world.

          it’s somewhat of a given that CHI & MIA are – given their combination of talent & age – likely to be the two top-dogs for at least the next few years. boston & orlando are in a bit more tenuous position, considering the age of the core (for boston) & the pending FA of DH (not to mention the horrible job they’ve done in trying to put pieces around him this year. what a mess.), but they *should* both still be competitive, at least to the degree they’d be competing in the 2nd tier of teams in the east. ATL is a big question mark to me…just my opinion, but i think they’ve gone as far as a team as they can, and they should look to make significant tweak (by trading josh smith)…but they have enough in talent alone to be competitive in the 2nd/3rd tier of teams.

          so, even if you discount ATL, and think what philly has done is a fluke, CHI, MIA, BOS & ORL are as close to being guarantees to be earning playoff spots over the next few years as any teams…leaving 4 spots for the remaining 11 teams…and of those 11, i don’t really see many (any?) that are in a significantly worse position going forward than TO.

          • http://khandorssportsblog.com/wordpress khandor

            The question is … Why do other Raptors fans fail to see the reality of this team’s situation going forward in the same way that you do?

    • Arsenalist

      khandor, fair point. Chicago and Miami are legit. After that there are questions to be asked of everyone. Boston is aging and they could even start their decline next season if they don’t win anything this year, Orlando reached its peak two years ago, Atlanta is stuck in mediocrity and should consider blowing that whole thing up, New York is definitely on the rise and Philly has contract decisions soon to make on Lou Will, Speights, Hawes, Young and Meeks. Bobcats I have no concern about and Milwaukee is up and coming. There’s no reason to think the Raptors, with the addition of a couple pieces can’t at least take a legit run at the 7th seed ~ 35-40 wins.

      • http://khandorssportsblog.com/wordpress khandor

        As I’ve said about the Raptors for basically the last 5 years …

        1. This franchise is not very far away from being a legitimate contending ‘Top 4 Team’ in the East, IF IT USES ITS AVAILABLE RESOURCES PROPERLY.

        HOWEVER …

        2. Unfortunately, if the franchise FAILS TO USE ITS AVAILABLE RESOURCES PROPERLY – much like it has for the last 5 seasons, with a series of inept personnel decisions that were more indicative of basketball people who really did not understand how the game actually works, at least, if the long term goal is winning the league championship – then, Toronto will continue to flounder and be just as far away from winning it all as it has been since losing its only 2nd Round Playoff Series to the Philadelphia 76ers.

        e.g. If Bryan Colangelo had not fired Sam Mitchell, on Dec 3, 2009 … as I suggested, in advance, he SHOULD not do … in all likelihood the Raptors would not have missed the playoffs last season, then, lost the services of Chris Bosh, and then finished with 20-something wins this season. Now multiply the ramifications of that decision times 20, since there have been at least 20 instances over the last 5 years when Bryan Colangelo has failed to make the right basketball move, when faced with a difficult decision regarding team personnel.

        PS. At no time have I ever suggested that Bryan Colangelo should be fired as the President/GM of the Raptors but, it should now be crystal clear to ALL the fans of this team that he is “an average GM” and incapable of doing what’s necessary to build a championship-winning franchise in Toronto. If the long term goal is actually winning the NBA Title then having a GM in the mold of Mitch Kupchak, or Danny Ainge, or RC Buford, or Joe Dumars, or Carroll Dawson, or Jerry Krause, or Jack McCloskey, or Red Auerbach, etc., would seem to make a great deal more sense. In the event of this unlikely development, this summer, then the bar for this franchise should be set much higher [lower?] than simply attaining 35-40 wins next season and a modicum of respect in the Eastern Conference.

        • Guest

          is aurbach under khontract? he would be great!

  • yertu damkule

    little reality check…how many teams have won 40+ games in the season immediately following one in which they won half has many? 40 wins doesn’t sound like much, but it’s (around) a 100% increase over what they’ll finish with this year. teams don’t generally tend to double their W output from one season to the next, even the ultra-shitty teams.

    also…there probably won’t be 40 GAMES played/team next season; there’s a strong possibility of a lockout, so ~1/2-a-season is what we’ll probably be in for (b/w 40 & 50 games).

    IMO, 30 wins in the next full season should be expected/aimed for…then 40+, and so on. baby steps. it’s not like these guys are ‘one piece’ away or something, or that they have 3 blue-chippers just waiting to ‘come into their own.’ they have a nice young core of SUPPORTING players. nothing more.

    • Nilanka15

      As an example, in 1997-98, we finished with a franchise worst 16-66 record. The following summer, we draft Carter, and finished 23-27 in a lockout-shortened season and missed the playoffs by 4 games. The year after that, we finish with 45 wins and make the playoffs for the 1st time (only to get swept by the Knicks).

      If we follow this path (with a lot of luck in the draft, and the right mix of veterans), we can be back in the playoffs in 2 years.

      • yertu damkule

        well, that’s sorta what i was saying. i guess i have different aspirations than hopping back on the ‘barely-playoff-worthy’ treadmill as soon as possible. yes, if all goes exceedingly well with this upcoming draft (a total crapshoot at the moment, considering that the top of the board seems to be littered with guys who are at least hinting at staying for another year), their young guys continue to develop, and they do well with next year’s lottery pick, then i can see them possibly getting into the 7-8 spot for the ’13 season. and if that’s the case, then i’m all for it (i.e. if they continue to actually BUILD from the ground up & it’s their young players that are putting them into the playoffs). what has me a little concerned is that if BC is retained (and seriously, does anyone truly think he won’t be), and if they get a little taste of success ahead of schedule, does he decide to go ‘all-in’ & go after a ‘now’ player to get back into the playoffs ahead of schedule, and recommence the treadmill routine?

        • Arsenalist

          I have no faith in this draft class. Bringing in established players or picking rookies and developing them both have issues. You could be stuck in a rut of mediocrity by bringing in vets whose ceiling/impact you already know, or you could bring in a rookie who turns out to be just another dude whose ceiling is the vet you could’ve signed. It’s a coin toss IMO. As I said in the post, it comes down to how good the Raptors scouting is, and how much they believe that the player they’re going after has the realistic potential to be a legitimate high-caliber player. Tough job being a scout in the NBA, but that’s what they get paid for.

          I think you already have the youth component setup with DeRozan, Davis and Johnson, honestly, how many young guys does a team need? I’m open to flipping the pick, just give me something I can use and get excited about.

          • yertu damkule

            i hear ya…and i agree with the ‘how many young guys do you need’ argument. of course, it’s not how many young guys you have that’s important, but how good are those young guys/how good can they realistically become. if either DD or ED were on the verge (i.e. within 2 yrs) of being a top-15 player in the L, then i’d be more inclined to deal some youth for a solid vet or to fill holes. but i really don’t project either to be more than complementary players. i like both, don’t get me wrong, but if there’s a potential ‘game-changer’ type player in this draft (and i’m not sold there is), then there shouldn’t be any hesitation in taking him. but even if there isn’t, i’d still rather take my chances with a top-5 pick than use young players who haven’t really shown all they can be to acquire a player who, in all likelihood, is going to end up being a marginally impactful player.

            • Guest

              risk and reward. rooks may have a high ceiling = high reward. adding top end assets means you can move them for other top end aassetts. no question, use the pick!

            • http://khandorssportsblog.com/wordpress khandor

              Speaking of a “marginally impactful player” and “how good are those young guys/how good can they realistically become” …

              Have you been following the exploits of Kris Humphries [PF] this season?

  • Bo4

    First of all, forget the ‘get a veteran’ route. They cost more and last less.

    Secondly, we have a core that needs complementary players of the same age. Trade our vets for additional future draft picks, and round out the core with balanced, superior talent.

    If we trade away Bargnani & Barbosa for draft picks this year or next year, I’m fine with that.

    I’d like to see us add Irving (slated to go #1), Walker (#11), or Fredette (#14).

    If we can’t draft T. Jones, we should re-sign Weems.

    I’m still a big fan of Faried (#24).

    If we let BC walk, I won’t cry cause he’s the one keeping Bargnani here.

    If JT was promoted to GM, I could live with that. He might actually be good in that role.

    I don’t mind the idea of promoting PJC to head coach. That might be just what the doctor ordered.

    Finally, next year, as soon as Bayless or Irving/Walker/Fredette are ready to take over as the #1 PG, Calderon would bring us a return more in line with the Young Ones.

    What do you all think?

    • Guest

      boko for gm!

  • meductic

    The Raptors need a 3 point shooting wing with a recognition of defense, resolution of the Centre issue, and a future PG. This cannot be resolved in 1 year. If two of these can be fixed next year that would be a major achievement. As far as next 2011 – 2012 goes they can only be 20 games weaker. If next year is worse it should be no problem to fix the final issue if they do not trade away one more Draft choice.

  • Raptor4Ever

    “O.J. Mayo. A guy who’s got some experience, has gotten the hang of NBA travel and practices, and is looking for a permanent starting job.”

    Another masterpiece from Arsenalist. One of the few guys who calls it how it is without bias and prejudiced. I truly enjoyed it.

    Question about O.J. Mayo :
    If Raptors want to acquire him, are you considering him to be PG ? If not, what will you do with DD ? and what it takes to have him ?

    I know Indiana loves to pair him up on the back court with Collision.

    • yertu damkule

      who are you talking about? mayo? he’s still w/ the grizz. and i’m pretty sure the ‘mayo as PG’ experiment ended some time ago.

      i’m not sure how he’d fit with the raps, but one way would be moving DD to SF & starting mayo at the 2. two birds…well, if DD could defend SFs. maybe he’ll add 20 lbs of muscle this summer?

  • corey

    i like mayo, but getting him means moving DDR to the wing. not sure we';d see BC do that. very sure Mayo isnt a nba PG, either. and maybe i am an optimist, but i think we’ll see big strides next year. just seeing derozan’s growth from last yr to this yr, and he only played one yr of college? he still has huge upside. and davis? again huge upside. he was a huge factor is the near win in LA the other nite, was also a huge factor in that win in Dallas earlier.

    btw, that game in LA, where davis had 18-10 and bargs had no rebounds in 27 min will be looked back upon as the begining of the end for AB in the T dot. we can live with jose for another yr or two, but i think AB is gone. this is a completely dif team with AB on the bench.

    i agree that if we dont get barnes williams or irving we trade the pick. i’d pachage the pick and AB together, se if two or more needs could be addressed.

  • whattt

    I DONT CARE IF WE HAVE A LOSING TEAM NEXT SEASON. RAPS FUTURE IS BRIGHTER IF AB IS TRADED. AB TRADE=RAPS BETTER FUTURE THAN 20-60

    • Junior

      emo caplock fury.

  • Eric M

    I think that the entire organization is just mindless…Unfortunately. good free agents do not want to come to the Raptors for 2 reasons: 1) They have a history of losing (look where nowadays players are attracted to). 2) The Raptors aren’t located in the United States which bugs players because of the cold, TV exposure, and taxes. Trust me, I live in Toronto, I know that it really shouldn’t be such a big deal.

    I mean, who wants to come play here when we have little history of winning seasons and playoff success?

    In terms of management, Bryan Colangelo has failed us BIG TIME. Time and time again he has made poor decisions – bringing in a big man over 30 years old with serious knee problems (Jermaine O’neal) or look at the Hedo Turkgolu signing. Worst of all, his insistence on sticking with a 7 footer who shoots jump shots all day and does not rebound whatsoever is just a recipe for disaster. He has done almost nothing to make me thing that he deserves to come back. I don’t like the argument of who would you rather than him, because right now I would look elsewhere.

    I don’t really know what to say about Jay Triano because he hasn’t truly has the chance to coach a team with minimal flaws. Although, I will say that the fact that they continue to be poor defensive team is quite troubling.