The Raptors have enough talent to contest for a playoff spot for much of the season. They also might have a future All-Star center in Valanciunas.

From the ESPN Insider article:

The Raptors have enough talent to contest for a playoff spot for much of the season. They also might have a future All-Star center in Valanciunas. Can he be a better rebounding version of Brook Lopez? To find out, they must let him play a lot of minutes, even if that means they’ll lose more games.

He needs to go through the requisite growing pains all NBA bigs must endure. If the Raptors can somehow trade Rudy Gay, this season is all but guaranteed to revolve around Valanciunas. The Raptors were better last season with Gay on the bench, and if they cannot trade Gay and progress toward developing Valanciunas, problems will persist all season.

There you have it, confirmation from David Thorpe that all our hopes are on Jonas Valanciunas. If nothing else, I look forward to pulverizing Boston four times this season. It would make my year. No, my life.

Make sure to vote in the Raptors Rebrand contest – 41 designs, 16 make the playoffs.

  • DDD

    putting gay on the bench? when did we ever put him on the bench? the man played 35 minutes a game and we lost most of them when our bench players were out there!

  • Tim W.

    That article makes little sense. While I’m not a big Rudy Gay fan, I have no idea how you can say the team was BETTER when he wasn’t in the game. I don’t think he’s nearly as good as many Raptor fans seem to think, but he was one of the more talented players for the Raptors, last season.

    I do agree about Valanciunas, though. But ideally I’d like to see less offensive responsibility so he can focus a little more on defense, for now.

    • james

      Couldn’t agree more with the JV focusing on defense comment. Now is the time for Casey to solidify his role as a head coach (whether with Toronto or another team) by molding JV into the anchor of our defense, just as he did with Chandler.
      If Casey can’t make this happen, what does he really bring to the table?

      • yama

        I think Chandler made Casey the defensive “genius” in Dallas, not the other way around.

    • Big D

      It’s gonna take time and experience for Jonas to be a better defender. We probably won’t see him make strides until his 3rd and 4th year in the league. Players like Marc Gasol we bad to average in their first few seasons but gradually got better by the 3rd and 4th year. I don’t know if Jonas will ever be as good of a defender as Marc Gasol but he should be much better by year 4.

  • Mugsy

    Whether your a pro tank or pro playoff, they’ve got to play JV for the success of the team. Pure experience and big minutes will help him and the team either way you look at it. Even if they make the playoffs they’ll have no chance of making it a respectable series without his presence inside. They have no choice no matter how you look at it IMO.

    A Raptors squad that stumbles into the playoffs and than gets swept because of inexperience and an absence of inside presence won’t carry over too much positivity and hope going into the next season. BUT you let JV play big minutes and learn all year, and allow him to show true grit in the playoffs (despite a likely 1st round exit) while it becomes his coming out party and changes the teams mentality going forward.

  • Meductic

    Isn’t this the same guy who continually stated what a great pick solo was?

    • Raptorsss

      He worked out the guy and he watched him at Florida State, Thorpe’s backyard so he’s was obviously biased.

  • james

    Although I don’t understand the whole “better with Gay on the bench argument” I think I understand the sentiment. Basically, the Raptors are not going to win the championship by relying on Rudy Gay. He may be the most talented player WE have, but there are many more talented players in the league, especially at his position.

    I couldn’t agree more with the assessment of JV, win or lose, he needs time. He is the one advantage we have over most teams in the NBA. Bring back the old days when all you needed was a big man (Shaq) and a quality shooting guard (Kobe, then Wade) to close out games. If we don’t draft that quality wing player in the upcoming draft (2014) we should begin to build around JV like Orlando did with Dwight – surround with shooters and a couple lock-down defenders. It certainly would not guarantee a championship (or even playoffs for that matter) but it is utilizing the one advantage we have over most teams – JV.

  • raptorspoo

    Raptors being better with Gay on the bench is the same reason they were better with Bosh on the bench. They played better team ball without them cause once they get the ball in their hands and set up, you know they’re exactly what they’re going to do… and you know what the rest of the team is going to do – stand and watch. And unlike a guy like Rose, they won’t rearrange the defense and leave guys wide open.

    Been saying they should have traded Bosh even before he signed his first non-rook contract, not upset that he left but fuming that we got nothing back for him. Hopefully we can bait a sucker to take Gay for something significant in return instead of losing him for nothing.

    • james

      So who would you rather have the ball? Lowry?… he is even less of a team player than Gay. Demar?… maybe a “team guy” but he certainly doesn’t create for teammates nor does he make them better. Ross?… he is still figuring out how to make himself into a NBA player…you get the point. I agree that Rudy Gay is a black hole at times, and if we had a team that is capable of playing and succeeding with team ball I would completely agree with you. But, unfortunately, we do not have the personnel to back up the argument that Raps are better without Gay.

      • raptorspoo

        Well Jose for one, if we didn’t make that trade.

        I agree with everything you said. Hence, I think we gotta tear it up.

    • Tim W.

      The Raptors weren’t better without Bosh, just as they aren’t better without Gay. That is patently false. You can definitely make an argument that each team would (have been) better in the long run without each player (as I feel with Gay right now), but all the evidence goes completely against your argument. Both players have positive +/- stats, which isn’t the greatest way to tell how good a player is, but is a fairly good indication of whether or not his team was better with him when he was on the floor. Gay and Bosh certainly aren’t Bargnani, who often was a net loss on the floor because of his poor defense and inefficient shooting. Bosh and Gay have their flaws, but they are good players.

      The problem with your argument is that the team needs to replace a player with someone, and, as it is, there IS no better alternative than Gay.

      Now, I would like nothing more than for the Raptors to trade Gay for a draft pick/prospect, but I’d never say the team is better with Gay on the bench because the team simply lacks the talent to replace him with anyone better.

      • Casey Sherman

        Puts a smile on my face hearing an anti-rudy person able to see both sides of the issue :)

        Another (related) thing to consider about Gay is his effect on other players’ performance. DeRozan shot a lot better with Gay on the floor and with Gay off, as did Pondexter and Ellington in Memphis

        • Tim W.

          Some people may not LIKE what I have to say a lot of the time. But it doesn’t mean it doesn’t come from a place of (relative) objectivity. Despite what some may believe, I’m not just hating on players. Usually, I have a pretty good point if people get past the fact I’m criticizing someone they may like.

          • Casey Sherman

            I suppose you’re a moderator of (I think?) the leading Raptors website for a reason

            • What the

              Boom! you droped the bomb.

            • Guy

              What is that reason?

              • Casey Sherman

                The fact that he’s relatively reasonable

                • Guy

                  Opinions vary

                • Casey Sherman

                  “Tim W is reasonable” – Tim W
                  I don’t really have an opinion yet tbh

                • Guy

                  Well, depending on what your opinion is, be careful how you express it. We sure don’t want any disrespectful commentary on here.

      • raptorspoo

        Remember that stretch when Bosh was injured and the Raptors played out of their mind? Bosh was scared about coming back and destroying that chemistry.

        The answer to “are we better with Rudy on the bench” depends on what context you are referring to.

        So I’ll rephrase my point…

        – Are they going to win more games right away with Gay? Probably yes.
        – Will Gay’s style of play hinder the development of our youngersters? Sure, cause they’ll watch him jacking up shots instead of trying to lose their defender and get into a good position expecting the ball to be given to them if they’re open (view the tapes and watch how much off the ball movement the Raptors have)
        – Does Gay’s style of play hinder the development of our team game? Offense and defense? Most likely…partially to the fault of the coach and the gm (for the role they expect him to play, failure to implement a team game and failure to pick up pieces that contribute to a team game)

  • Matt52

    I’m not sure how the Raptors were better with Gay on the bench.

    He had a positive net Off/DefRtg.

    His net on/off court was +5.3

    I don’t get it.

    • Casey Sherman

      ESPN seems to be consistently woeful in their analyses AND dismissive of the Raptors. It is what is I guess

      • Tim W.

        To be fair, has there been a reason NOT to be dismissive of the Raptors, for the most part? Raptor fans (and DeMar DeRozan) raised hell when they predicted the Raptors would win 33 games last year. They all claimed ESPN was biased, etc. And then the Raptors went on to win one more game.

        Really, until the Raptors give them reason not to be dismissive of them, they will continue to do so. Unfortunately, the current roster isn’t enough to do that.

        • Casey Sherman

          Yeah, you’re right I suppose. But that one game was an absolute UNDRESSING of the playoff-bound Hawks on national TV!

          • Tim W.

            Well. They undressed the scrubs of a playoff bound Hawks, missing it’s best player and that had no incentive to win the game. And it was probably the least watched game of the season, since no one, including people in Atlanta, watches the Hawks and most Raptors fans don’t get TNT (except when it’s simulcast) because they don’t live in the US. Other than that….

            • Casey Sherman

              B**** don’t kill my vibe!

              And hey, they absolutely did have incentive to win the game–the 5 seed was still attainable for them. They just didn’t care and sent scrubs out

      • james

        If by “dismissive” you really meaned “realistic”, I completely agree.

        Given the lack of success of this franchise, the fans (including myself) often inflate our current and projected talent. We’ve experienced two short periods of success (1) Air Carter – need I say more?; and (2) BC’s first year when he built around the existing core with highly effective Euro-talent (Anthony Parker and The Great Garbo). Other than that we have just been inflating the future prospect of our success to maintain our sanity, as evidenced by: the extension of Derozan’s contract at a bonafide starter rate; the belief that Derozan will suddenly become an effective 3-point shooter (if Lebron can work on his 3-point shot all off season and only increase it by approx 2%, why do we think Derozan can do better? especially considering he worked ALL off season last year on the same thing); the crowning of JV (I do believe we can crown him in the future just not yet); and the trust in Lowry to become a legit starting PG despite his inabilities to do so with every previous team he has been with.

        • SR

          @james – I agree. I’d also like to add that, as Raptors fans, we can be realistic and still enjoy the product on the floor. Being aware that the roster has a fairly low ceiling and really needs to be overhauled does not = being a non-fan hater, as some here would suggest. I think I’m going to enjoy watching this roster this year (they are fun to watch), but I’ll be surprised if they make the playoffs. I expect them to finish 9th or 10th and Ujiri is going to make some serious changes, if not this year, then in the next 1 or 2 as the big contracts expire.

          • james

            …and hopefully by the time we are legitimate playoff contenders Wiggins will be finishing his rookie contract and will actually have a reason to come to the Raptors (or possibly Huskies by that time).
            …and then the first Raptors/Huskies NBA Championship!

            • Tim W.

              Quick. Name the last good player who left his team after his rookie contract….

              The problem is that after four years, Wiggins will be a restricted free agent IF he doesn’t sign an extension, which is the most likely scenario (that’s what happens with most good players). Obviously, if he’s good enough, his team is going to match any offer he gets, so he’ll have to take the qualifying offer, which would be significantly lower than he’d make if he signed an extension or signed an offer sheet that would be matched.

              And then after another year (five years since he was drafted), he would become an unrestricted free agent.

              But that is highly, highly unlikely.

              What every other great player has done, during their rookie contract, is sign an extension and have an opt out after three more years, meaning that it will be SEVEN years before the Raptors would have the ability to sign him.

              And that’s only if they’ve created the cap room to be able to do so, which means basically treading water until the possibility comes where Wiggins could sign with Toronto.

              And the thing is most great players NEVER end up signing with their home town team. Howard never signed with Atlanta. Bake Griffin never signed with Oklahoma. Russell Westbrook never signed with the Lakers, and it’s highly doubtful Paul George will. Both Kobe and Amir could have signed with either the Lakers or Clippers and didn’t. James Harden didn’t even try to sign with an L.A. team. Chris Paul didn’t even give a thought to signing with Charlotte. When Kobe was drafted, he demanded to be traded to the Lakers, not the Sixers.

              So, basically, hoping Wiggins ends up signing with Toronto somewhere down the road probably isn’t a good plan.

              • james

                It was extremely wishful thinking and a completely unrealistic expectation, but thanks for completely sh**ing on my hopes of the Raptors actually winning something.

                • Tim W.

                  I meant to say. Yes! Good thinking!

                  Of course, that’s exactly why I want them to tank this year.

        • Casey Sherman

          Lowry was legit in Houston, no? 14/7/4 is pretty good for a PG

          • james

            Those are decent numbers for a PG. I don’t deny that he has the talent to succeed. I think the issue is that he does not have the mental fortitude to match such talent and so he will never be a reliable starting PG in the NBA.
            The formula for Lowry has been the same for every team he has played for; he fights to get that starting spot but once in the starting spot it gets to his head and then there is the inevitable squable with the coach (which is the reason he was traded from Houston despite putting up fairly decent numbers). It is only a matter of time before he bumps heads with Casey. The only thing holding him back from that is probably the fact that he gets to play with his buddy, Gay.

            • Casey Sherman

              If he has to butt heads with his gay buddy to get on Casey’s good side, so be it. Come crunch time I want that talent and energy on the floor

  • ibleedpurple

    The Raptors will take the seventh seed in the East and lose 4-2 to the Pacers. The following year they’ll be fighting neck and neck for the 6th seed and lose again in the first round to the Pacers. JV will get stronger and Terrence Ross will be traded for a more effective 3 and D player. Kyle Lowry will remain perpetually on the block for a more consistent option but to no avail. I’ll be there in 2014 and 2015 with my face painted in the nose bleeds seats taking full advantage of the unreal atmosphere created by a Raptors playoff game.