Solomon Alabi played 40 minutes in an NBA game and his team won by 31 points. Let that be the epitaph for the season which ended last night with the Raptors (DNPCDs for DeRozan, A. Johnson, Kleiza, and Calderon) pummeling a Nets side missing Deron Williams, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, and Jordan Farmar. The Nets were in tank mode as a win would’ve actually affected their Anthony Davis positioning. For the Raptors, well, their positioning could’ve been a lot better, but they end up being slotted in a two-way tie for 7th, which was the worst possible scenario as Golden State lost (best case was a tie for a 4-way tie for 3rd). The chances of winning the lottery are between 2.8-4.3%.
The season has had its positives, yet there’s no denying that’s also been dreadful, so I feel almost a little cheated with the lottery positioning. Certainly, the plan of sucking for another year and giving yourself a decent chance to add a top three pick to the roster has been foiled by these six April wins, which carry about as much meaning as the Shawn Marion or Voshon Lenard led runs of seasons past.
There’ll be plenty of time to take stock of the Raptors roster and mull over the changes made, both hypothetical and real. The core complaint has been the lack of talent and that cry still rings true. As we had hoped, the season did not provide emphatic answers to the questions posed at various positions. The point guard situation remains unresolved, DeRozan’s seeming stronghold on the shooting guard position has been cast in doubt, and no one quite emerged to make the small forward spot their own, although James Johnson did finish the season strong (again, take salt with the late-season numbers). The power forward spot with Bargnani can be, more or less, considered resolved if for nothing than for him being the most capable player on the team. The center is all about Jonas and the bench is brutal.
Like every other year we look to the hot summer months in hopes of improvement, and this one is no different. Whether that improvement comes in the form of free-agency is doubtful, after all the Raptors do suffer for their reputation of being losers (not for being north of the border, mind you). You require assets to execute trades and TPEs (which usually go wasted) can’t be considered great ones, it has to be the players and the only valued one is Bargnani, and to lesser extents DeRozan, Calderon, and Amir Johnson – at least in the sense that you’ll get an NBA player back for them. The task for Colangelo is tough, unless of course he decides to append to the roster by simply adding the two rookies he’s owed, and embarking on another season of character building under Casey. He might not have a choice.
As has been stated many a time, Dwane Casey has been the greatest positive of the season. He’s instilled a sense of professionalism and accountability whose need was never more evident that in the previous three seasons. Whether his message will carry on to to next campaign remains to be seen, as fans we hope that he’s not a coach the players tune out after a time, but one they grow closer and vow loyalty to. This season was often pitched as stop-gap measure till Jonas gets here, if you do view it in those terms then job done and let’s wait for our saviour.
Watching this game it seemed like what’s old was new again. From Acie Earl to Ben “triple double” Uzoh, from Vincenzo Esposito to Alan Anderson, the Raptors have rarely been about winning, yet we love them all the same. Whether it be for geographic proximity, habit, or simply pure madness, they’re the club we pledge our allegiance to. The feeling that’s settling in isn’t of pondering whether this season was good or bad (it was bad), but that there’s no Raptors basketball for six long months. All one can hope is that this season counted for something, what that something is I can’t quite articulate right now, at least not in terms that are convincing. Perhaps you can.
Bryan Colangelo’s got one year left on his contract and faces a summer where he’s got two options: 1) stay the course and accept another year of this, and hope that management views his lack of action as patience, or 2) try to hit for the fences again and hope to earn a new contract with the club. He’s usually done the latter and failed, so my money’s on #1 – a summer of modest activity which’ll end up meaning that Jonas will be the most exciting thing to look forward to.
In the end, it’s the same win total as last year but with 16 less games played, and a slice of character added thanks to the coach.
RR ends another season of service and I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who makes this site part of their routine. It’s the community that keeps the site going and we thank you for reading, lurking, and posting. The unpaid, hard-working, and talented people that contribute to this zero-revenue affair by keeping the content chugging, win or lose, are:
Trevor Martin (chat)
Forum crew of .40 Cal Flakes, Apollo, Mango Kid, and Matt52