Not everybody is convinced that the Raptors, 23-43 a year ago during the lockout-shortened season, have improved enough to be a player this year in the Eastern Conference.
On Saturday morning, DeRozan got a call from Harden. “He had actually called me asking me for advice and everything,” DeRozan said Monday. “I was just talking to him, I’ve known him for a long time. Just trying to be on his side, whatever he did.”
A year after Bryan Colangelo preached patience with a young, building team that was all about gaining experience, the Raptors made several key moves in the off-season that — on paper at least — have Toronto looking significantly better.
With the Toronto Raptors kicking off their 2012-13 NBA campaign on Wednesday, the HQ team gets together to preview the season, and make a few predictions…
Don’t get me wrong, he’s not fully untouchable, as that distinction should be reserved for either just LeBron James or at most, a handful of NBA players. But on this Raptors roster, Valanciunas would unquestionably carry the biggest trade value (again, Lowe’s Grantland piece insinuates that Valanciunas is one of a select few “sure-thing players in the beginning stages of his rookie deal” that the Thunder would have considered in exchange for Harden), and is the closest thing to untouchable.
With a great defensive coach in Dwane Casey and a healthy amount of talent, the Raptors could easily be considered a sleeper team. Kyle Lowry and Andrea Bargnani should be an impressive 1-2 punch on offence, while rookie Lithuanian centre Jonas Valanciunas looks to build upon an impressive pre-season and become a sorely needed defensive anchor.
Still only 25 years old, Williams could definitely still help a team, and I think that team should be the Toronto Raptors.
It’s been four long years since the Toronto Raptors qualified for the NBA season. They say this year will be different and there are some things to be optimistic about, but Raps supporters have been down this road before. They’ll want to see major changes on the court after the club saw a major facelift last offseason.
Every team in the Atlantic Division improved during the offseason. Exhibit A for this fact is the Raptors as former Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski added some impressive pieces. The biggest of those is Villanova alum Lowry, who plays with a ferocity that was sorely lacking from the Raptors over the past few seasons.
Today we are doubling up. Your regular This Week In Raptorland with myself and Josh Lewenberg from TSN 1050 preview your Raptors season. We also here from Ed Davis and Amir Johnson.