I suppose it’s prediction time now that preseason is wrapping up. Before I get to my predictions for the 2012-13 Toronto Raptors, let’s take a look around the internet and see what others are projecting.
John Hollinger, ESPN
33-49, 12th in East
“If everything goes perfectly fine, maybe Toronto will sneak into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. But things rarely go perfectly fine.”
Marc Stein, ESPN
23rd in Power Rankings
“There’s quiet optimism north of the border that the Raps can scrap for the East’s No. 8 spot. I’ll just stop at saying that Valanciunas’ unhappy Olympics (and likely slow NBA start) won’t discourage me at all about his promise.”
ESPN The Magazine
40-42, 9th in East
“Deeper isn’t enough. Lock up Bargnani and new point guard Kyle Lowry and who puts the ball in the hole? Toronto was 29th in offensive rating last year. There is, of course, vague hope in youth.”
Bradford Doolittle, Basketball Prospectus
(note: from August, September update behind paywall)
42-40, 9th in East
“Head coach Dwayne Casey’s team will stress defense, and if DeMar DeRozan’s productivity starts to match his raw talent, the Raptors might be poised for a playoff run.”
39-42, 10th in East (with only 81 games, apparently)
Wages of Wins
45-37, 4th in East
“hahaha” – everyone
ESPN Conglomerated Rankings (100 people surveyed)
32-50, 11th in East
“Toronto’s a team that could threaten with the 8 spot. Addition of Lowry, Ross and Valanciunas adds much-needed defensive help.”
Zach Lowe, Grantland
9th/10th in East
“Bonus Raptors prediction: The Raptors will make a push for a top-10 ranking in points allowed per possession, a remarkable potential turnaround for a team that was an embarrassing dead last — with a bullet — just two seasons ago.”
Eric Koreen, National Post
“I’d say the Raps’ sweet spot is between 31-37 wins, in relation to the@johnhollinger prediction.”
(Note from Blake: C’mon E-Ko, narrow it down!)
Ryan Wolstat, Toronto Sun
“I might be a bit high with that prediction, as injuries likely will happen. But 34-38 is the range I see for the Raptors.”
And now, for the most important prediction of all…mine. Put it on the record and file it away for constant harassment later…
The Toronto Raptors will finish 38-44 to place 9th in the Eastern Conference.
I think the team is going to be a top-10 unit defensively based on the personnel additions and continued improvement under coach Dwane Casey.
I think the team’s 29th-ranked offense will get into the low-20s or high teens thanks to the addition of Lowry, a full season of Bargnani, and DeRozan committing full-time to getting to the line.
I think Jonas Valanciunas will finish tied for second in Rookie of the Year voting with Damian Lillard, who will be the top rookie scorer but will also lose out to Anthony Davis.
I don’t think any Raptor makes the All-Star team, but Kyle Lowry will be listed among the top snubs (or possibly get a nod as an injury replacement).
I think Jose Calderon will remain a Raptor for the whole season.
I think Linas Kleiza will not. Jonas will be just fine.
I think Terrence Ross will struggle to earn playing time in the first half of the season before figuring out his role and settling in as an adequate three-point shooter and above-average wing defender.
I think DeMar DeRozan will continue to drive me mad with long-twos but will crack the top-10 with 6.5 free throw attempts per game, replacing some of those mid-range jumpers.
I think Ed Davis and Amir Johnson will morph into one super-big named Amed Davison who will average 15-and-12 with two blocks a game. He/it will still lose minutes to Aaron Gray against centers over 250lbs.
John Lucas will play well in a limited role and be the subject of trade rumors that won’t come to fruition. He’ll be the unquestioned PG2 heading into next season.
Quincy Acy, Alan Anderson, Dominic McGuire and Landry Fields will also all exist, though I have no predictions for them.
Overall, I couldn’t be more excited for the season. It seems silly after years of ineptitude and when the team’s upside appears to be first round playoff fodder, but it’s basketball, and there are actual things to look forward to. I’ve loved watching Kyle Lowry in preseason games so I can only imagine how much I’ll enjoy it when the games matter; Jonas Valanciunas might be up and down, but his intensity and potential will be reason enough to tune in for every game; And despite their polarity among the Republic, the whole season will be a chance to pass “final” judgment on DeRozan and Bargnani and the type of players they’ll settle in as.
Strap in for what should be a long, arduous and exciting season that maybe, just maybe, will have us all discussing some playoff basketball in the end.