We asked all of our writers to answer a series of preseason questions in 100 words or less. Some people wrote theirs as early as Oct. 17, so the odd comment may seem out of place. Leave your own brief answers in the comments, and check out part one if you missed it.

5. Make a bold prediction for the 2013-14 season.b>

Andrew Thompson Rudy Gay will resign with the Raptors. The hate has gone too far. I think that a smarter and more focused Rudy Gay with a defined role and functional vision is going to have a very good year. A franchise player year? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t a valuable asset. Oh, and before the comment section war ensues, remember, resigning doesn’t mean forever. Just ask Ujiri about Aaron Afflalo and Nene.

Blake Murphy Kyle Lowry plays well enough to get paid this offseason, but it won’t be by the Raptors. On the floor for 75 games and finding his role among some ball-dominant wings, Lowry utilizes his sometimes-excellent defense, strong guard rebounding and consistent outside stroke to create a buzz around himself entering the summer. Masai Ujiri, however, is hesitant to sign the check.

Garret Hinchey It’s sad that this is a “bold” prediction, but one of the Raptors’ backup point guards will emerge as a legitimate option to help take some pressure of Lowry. My money’s on Julyan Stone, and that would be best for the Raptors – a 6 foot 7 point guard who can defend three spots is a great luxury to have if he’s even passable running the floor. Both Stone and Dwight Buycks are green but have plenty of potential and could improve significantly in a short time.

Sam Holako D.J. Augustin wins most improved player of the year.

Tim Chisholm I think that DeMar DeRozan, and not Jonas Valanciunas, will be a Most Improved candidate. I’ve been stunned by his preseason play and in today’s efficiency-driven media landscape, a guy that turns himself from an efficiency nightmare into an efficiency darling would be a great poster child for that shift in focus and thinking.

Tim W. I’m predicting the team will start off the season 6-14 and Ujiri will start tearing the team down and trade Gay, Lowry and at least one other player.

William Lou The Raptors will win two playoff games against the Brooklyn Nets. That’s right, the Nets will be the 3rd seed, and the Raptors will be 6th. Everyone stays healthy and Ujiri sees enough “growth” to keep everyone around. The Raps make the playoffs, and win two games at home in games 3 and 4.

Zarar Siddiqi TNT and ESPN will pick up at least four Raptors games because of the buzz the team will create.

Rudy-Gay

6. Will Rudy Gay finish the year on the team? Any others likely to be shipped out?

Andrew Thompson If Rudy is traded, it will be next summer or season once his contract is controlled and the overreactions have regressed. If DeMar breaks out, he’ll be traded early on enough to make sure the high lottery is still in play. If the lottery were in play, I would have to think that Lowry would be able to nab a pretty price from any contender or team with delusions of contention in need of a point guard. But if the team excels, the roster is too young for selling assets to make much sense.

Blake Murphy Gay will finish the year with Toronto. The market this year is definitely going to be a buyer’s market with a ton of names available from tanking teams. While Gay is maybe the best of the bunch, he also has a huge price tag; contending teams that are cognizant of the luxury tax would need to send back a lot of salary, too, making a deal even less acceptable to Ujiri.

Garret Hinchey This all comes down to how Terrence Ross develops – if he becomes a legitimate, consistent scoring option, then Gay will become expendable even in the short term. My money’s on no, but as I said in my column last week, he won’t be given away just for the sake of giving him away, even if the team decides to tank. As for the rest of the team, DeMar is probably the most likely to move if he disappoints, given the interest in him around the league and the terms of his contract.

Sam Holako Doesn’t make sense for him to; either the Raptors trade him (Bill Simmons thinks he makes sense on half the teams in the league), or he opts out and is the #1 free agent on the market. Feels like everyone on the roster is tradable at this point; you telling me if we were offered the #1 overall pick in this draft for JV that Masai wouldn’t lose a few nights sleep over it? How about a top 3 pick (this year) and Tobias Harris? See, you’re going to lose sleep now as well.

Tim Chisholm Yes, I think Rudy lasts the year. If there is a player that is mostly likely to be shipped out it is Terrence Ross. His year-over-year improvement looks marginal at best at this – admittedly – early juncture, and rebuilding teams may be intrigued enough by his potential to offer something of value to Toronto to nab him.

Tim W. I’m guessing Gay will be gone before Christmas, either to Milwaukee, Detroit, Washington or possibly Sacramento. I think Lowry and his expiring contract will also go, so that Ujiri can get something for him while he still can. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see DeRozan also traded.

William Lou He’ll stick around, but he’ll turn down his option at the end of the season and test free agency. If a key player suffers a prolonged injury (ie: Johnson, Valanciunas, Lowry), I see Ujiri turning Steve Novak, and Hansbrough into second round draft picks. Everyone needs capable bigs and three-point shooters.

Zarar Siddiqi He will get traded to a team that thinks he could be a Rashard Lewis-type of player – Gay’s value around the deadline would be as an expiring deal the following year, or even presently if he decides to opt out. The Raptors will put feelers out on whether he’s likely to opt out, and if they think he won’t, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him shipped.

110620-casey-590

7. Will Dwane Casey be retained at the end of the season?

Andrew Thompson I think that whether or not the team plays well, we are going to start hearing George Karl rumors attributed to ‘anonymous sources’ by the all-star break. But I think that if the team responds to him, that is just going to end up being noise. Let’s put it this way: It’s his job to win, but not his job to lose. He won’t be here no matter what.

Blake Murphy No. Here’s the thing – Casey is a pretty good coach, but general managers only get a few coaching hires in their tenures, and I think Ujiri would want to avoid being tied to someone he didn’t choose as his first de factor hire. I’m also unsure promising assistants Bill Bayno and Nick Nurse were brought in just to assist, I think they’re both auditioning.

Garret Hinchey No – and a quick losing streak or poor start could see him out the door even sooner. Ujiri brought in his guys as assistants for a reason – the writing’s on the wall, and there’s not much Casey can do to change it, even if he improves his shortfalls (lineup decisions, mostly).

Sam Holako No; George Karl is still on the market. Here’s something to daydream about: Raptors stumble BADLY out the gate, Casey gets the boot by January, Karl takes over and the Raptors have a renaissance like the 2005 Nuggets did when he took over there…that thought makes me happy.

Tim Chisholm Yes. Casey is cheap and he focuses on real, tangible areas of the game. I don’t see the Raptors sending big bucks on an old school coach when they’ve invested so heavily in their analytics department. They are going new school upstairs and it says here that so long as Casey takes in that information he’ll be good to stick around going forward.

Tim W. No, I don’t see it. If the team doesn’t start off the season well and decides to rebuild, then it will be a good excuse for Ujiri to bring in a coach of his choosing. Maybe a coaching who’s better at developing players than Casey. I don’t see that coach being George Karl, who was Denver’s coach long before Ujiri was hired there.

On the other hand, even if the team doesn’t rebuild, I don’t think they’ll do well enough for Casey to save his job.

William Lou Probably not. Why would you? His teams have been unsuccessful and it’s not like he has a proven track record or something. He draws up terrible plays on offense and the Raptors’ defense isn’t very good either. Sorry, pal. I’m sure he’ll end up back on the bench as an assistant coach for a playoff team, drawing more zone defenses that feature Jason Kidd-types on Lebron James.

Zarar Siddiqi Yes. With help from Nick Nurse he’ll show enough improvement offensively to make a case that he can manage an NBA offense. Defensively, he’ll have a tough time teaching and convincing guys like Terrence Ross to pony up, but I feel that he’s a fundamentally good defensive mind to not show improvement over last year, even if it comes at the expense of pace. If Masai Ujiri didn’t think Casey was capable of the job, he’d already be gone.

2443921253_9f7086ffb0_z

8. Predict a record and playoff seed/result if applicable. Explain.

Andrew Thompson 43-39, 7th place seed. The battle for 13th-15th place in the East is going to be fiercer than the battle for 7th-10th. The top 5 teams seem to be a lock, but the Knicks, Cavs, Wizards, Pistons, Bucks, Hawks and Raps all have major chemistry and or injury concerns. The Raps are building on what they started at the end of last year and have the athleticism and bench to wear teams down with running, defense and getting free throws off drives. Plus, optimism is way more fun. Give it a shot.

Blake Murphy 38-44, eighth seed in the East. I know we’re selling hope here, but the 6-10 seeds are all very close such that a couple lucky breaks could see the Raptors sneak in. Of course, if there’s a single injury to the starting lineup, they’re doomed. Also worth considering – while preseason generally “doesn’t matter,” bad teams posting really good preseason records has actually shown to portend an improvement in the coming year.

Garret Hinchey I’m optimistic about the Raptors’ current roster being playoff caliber, but the East has improved drastically this year. I don’t see the Raps finishing ahead of Miami, Brooklyn, Indiana, or the Bulls, but they have a chance to be in the mix with New York, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta, and Washington at the bottom of the playoff ladder. Let’s go with 41-41, an eighth place finish and a first round exit.

Sam Holako Lots of unknowns with this team, and my heart tells me 34 wins. However, it’s tough not to get excited by the solid pre-season. If Gay finishes the year in White Vegas, DeMar and JV take it up a notch, and the bench can set a tone and be aggressors, this team can compete for the 8th seed in the playoffs. We’ve seen enough from them to know that they are serious about competing, and nothing short of the front office Riggin for Wiggins (sorry) will change that.

Tim Chisholm I think the Raptors finish 38-44 and nab the eighth seed. I think Kyle Lowry’s inevitable injury will derail the team’s momentum at some point, but I think that the middle of the East is overhyped and that Toronto has a stellar starting five that they can ride into a first round slaughter by Miami.

Tim W. If the team does rebuild, then I’m going to predict a record of 25-57. If Ujiri doesn’t blow the team up, then I’m going to guess 39 wins and no playoffs.

William Lou The 2013-14 Toronto Raptors finish the season with a record of 44-38 and make the playoffs as the 6th seed in the East. Despite great fanfare, the Cavs will be snake-bitten with injuries to Irving, Bynum and Varajeo. The Wizards will fall apart without Okafor to center their defense and the Bucks will learn that only one of the words in Brandon Knight’s title “NBA-quality starting point guard” is true. The Raptors keep the core intact and Nick Nurse patches together a capable offense en route to second in the Atlantic (over the Knicks).

Zarar Siddiqi How many times are you going to make me do this? 43-39 – 6th seed. I know you’re thinking this.

  • kaiokev

    As much as I think the team will start out rough (7-13 in the first 20 games) I think Ujiri will keep Casey around and let the team grow together. The team finishes the last 3/4 of the season 34-28 en route to the 8th seed in the playoff. I really don’t think Ujiri is in the business of “bringing in his own coach” plus I’m sure Ujiri, Casey and Lieweke had a pow-wow to discuss the state and direction of the team. If Lieweke and Ujiri didn’t like what Casey was selling they would have fired him already. Its not like the time when BC was hired and gave Sam Mitchell 9 new players (in an attempt to ensure failure which ended up backfiring). No, Ujiri has kept the starting 5 the same and re-jiged the bench. Clearly management wants to see – and is hoping for, progress but ultimately they have keep their options open.

    Lowry’s health is a big wild card this season.

    My bold prediction – Quincy Acy for Most Improved

    • what the

      are you talking about the same Casey who tried to sell ll mago as the next Dirk?

      • Tanks-a-lot

        Bargs could have been something but with help he chose to be lazy.

      • 2damkule

        puh-lease.

  • 2damkule

    nice math, blake…

    • BlakeMurphy

      Haha yeah, editing at 230am not recommended.

  • DDD

    6th seed makes sense. william lou makes solid points to back it up as well. but let’s not froget detroit’s crowded interior and poor shot selection in jennings and smith

    • johng_3

      What makes our frontcourt any better than Detriot’s. Drummond is the same if not better than Jonas. Any GM would take Monroe over Amir. And what makes the shot selection of Rudy Gay and Lowry any more attractive than Jennings or Smith.

      • WhiteVegas

        Gay and Lowry both had better TS% than either Jennings or Smith. Lowry’s was quite a bit better too. Also, Josh Smith is going to be played out of position at SF, which will cause his TS% to plummet even further when he jacks up even more ill advised jumpers. He’s a PF who desperately wants to be a SG on offense.

        The jury is still out on JV vs Drummond. I imagine they will battle for the Eastern Conference All Star Center for years to come.

        I agree that any GM would take Monroe over Amir. Detroit is definitely better than us at PF, but that’s the only position I think they are better than us.

  • Slap Dog Hoops

    This is probably the best that the Raptors have ever been in terms of talent and depth. Not only will they make the playoffs, but I guarantee that they will win at least 45 games in the regular season. i also think that Rudy Gay will most like rejoin the Raptors. he is an all star caliber payer that often gets overlooked and I think that with him that Raptors will remain a playoff team for at least another three to four years. I don’t think Terrence Ross will remain a Raptors for long. he’s too good to play off the bench, and has probably one of the highest value players on the team because he has so much upside.

    • DDayLewis

      If you think Ross is “too good” for the bench right now, you must be a sixers fan. He is definitely not deserving of a starting spot anywhere else.

      • Slap Dog Hoops

        Maybe not yet, but he certainly has the upside to do so and would certainly be a excellent piece to use in a potential trade kinda like how Ed Davis was used.

        • DDayLewis

          Potential is one thing, but Ed Davis had already proven that he was at the very least a third big in this league when he was traded. Every team in the NBA has a Terrence Ross-type; an super athletic wing that has a lot of potential, but isn’t very good.

          • Casey Sherman

            “Every team in the NBA has a Terrence Ross-type; an super athletic wing that has a lot of potential, but isn’t very good.”

            That’s just not true…

            • DDayLewis

              Which team(s)?

              • Casey Sherman

                Off my head? Hmm… Charlotte, Milwaukee, Indiana (no, Lance Stephenson does not qualify), Detroit, Philly, probably Boston (unless you consider Marshon Brooks super-athletic…), Chicago, Brooklyn, Atlanta, Orlando, Knicks (although they had James White last year…)

                And that’s just the Eastern Conference

                • DDayLewis

                  MKG, Middleton, Stephenson (he’s a good player, but he’s a little too Tony Allen-y), Evan Turner, Bradley, Snell, Jenkins, Harkless, and Bargnani (lololololol)

                  I don’t mean that everyone on the list is super-athletic the way Ross is, but they’re all wing players with upside but isn’t very good yet. There are a lot of players with a similar profile to Ross.

                • Casey Sherman

                  Harkless is dope though! And for a 15th pick, hardly a disappointment. He’s also years younger than Ross.

                  Does Stephenson really have room to grow? I don’t think many are saying so. He’s found his ideal role.

                  Snell’s a rookie. I mean, pretty much every rookie has upside that hasn’t been found yet. If they don’t they’re either Lebron James or shit.

                  Bradley super-athletic? More hustle than athleticism, no?

                • DDayLewis

                  Aww, you missed the opportunity to drop the line: Not good? How could you be Mo Harkless???!!?!

                  Stephenson could get a jumper. His shooting percentages at anywhere outside the paint is hilariously low: http://www.hoopdata.com/player.aspx?name=Lance%20Stephenson

                  I didn’t know you were so high on the T.Ross?

                • Casey Sherman

                  Wait what makes you think that?

    • Ghotte

      Ross is a borderline NBA player presently. The hope is that he can grow into a productive bench player that doesn’t cost the team wins.

    • Tanks-a-lot

      oh look, a newbie

      • GoingBig

        Yes, you can tell. It looks like he has hopes and dreams.

        • Tanks-a-lot

          Sometimes I feel like a Cubbies fan

    • 2damkule

      if only t-ross were that good, maybe the bench wouldn’t be the gigantic question mark it is?

  • johng_3

    This season is going to be so unpredictable. If Rudy is gone by the deadline, we ain’t going to make the playoffs and most likely Casey ain’t coming back.

  • Mess

    It’s looking like it will probably be another rough start for them record-wise due to the schedule. But there’s a big difference in them being blown out by contenders and them being competitive and losing close games. If they’re getting smoked, morale is low and the chemistry is off I can see MU blowing it up, but you know he’s going to be patient and get the best deal(s) possible. So blowing it up may not be feasible right away even if that’s what he wants to do.

    • 2damkule

      i dunno, they lost a tonne of close games last year en route to that 4-19 record…i remember thinking (and posting here) that the record wasn’t truly indicative of how they’d played. they weren’t good, but they weren’t 4-19 bad either.

  • ppellico

    William Lou ….exactly right.
    Why would you keep him?
    He has terrible rotations. He seems to have teams coming out of time outs and half times totally slow witted and seemingly doing things is sleep mode.
    I will never forget him screaming at Gray to leave his position under the basket to come out and get on Kobe. Kobe ran around him, scored and won the game..leaving Gray spitting with his eyes and voicing ugly words at Casey on the sideline.
    Stupid.

    • 2damkule

      i know, right? like, casey should know that gray wouldn’t be up to that task, and should have just had him wait under the hoop to foul him. so, so stupid.

      • ppellico

        exactly. Gray has enough trouble staying tight on his own shadow! But Casey has a long history of poor rotations….IMO.
        I did have hope for him early when his defense was good. Then…suddenly the running team and the try to put a faster team on the floor last year.
        I bet that IF they played a slower game…the defense would be better.
        Not always…but as a more standard team style.
        At least as constructed today.
        The talent just is not there for a fast team.
        For one…our shooting really sucks.

    • johng_3

      I know right, Aaron Gray should be starting over Jonas…….

      • ppellico

        wait…what?
        did I say this?????

  • Paul

    I can’t wait to see how Ujiri dismantles this team and puts us on the path to legitimacy.
    The Raptors are going to stumble out of the gate due to the extremely tough schedule and our terrible bench. If a starter gets injured, our demise will be accelerated (this is a best case scenario for me, so we can get into tank mode early, before we rack up too many Ws)

    Why are people saying our bench is improved over last year?
    Is Hansbrough an upgrade over Ed Davis and Amir Johnson (Bargs started at the beginning of last season)?
    Is our backup point guard situation any better?
    We lost AA, and while he was far from perfect, he was our best option for a wing off the bench (sad I know).
    Our bench is actually worse than last year.

    But this is a good thing. Our team does not have an asset (other than JV) that could land an unprotected first rounder. Therefore, our only chance for a high lottery pick is to tank.
    This team will go in the toilet early. I hope Gay and Lowry put up monster stats and we can unload them for young assets or protected first rounders (best case scenario for their value).
    I’m indifferent whether Derozan stays or not. He wont have much of an effect in the W/L column (and therefore does not affect my tanking dreams) and he can easily be disposed of at a later date due to his long term contract. If he plays well, I hope Ujiri sells high on him.

    This strategy leaves the team with the following:
    – Valanciunas
    – a potential franchise player (our 2014 first rounder)
    – the yield from Lowry and Gay (I have faith that Ujiri can extract maximum value for them.. which admittedly might still not be too much)
    – Derozan, or his return in a trade
    – a decent roll player in Amir Johnson
    – A bunch of roster filler (Don’t think Ross has much value unless he ups his play level)
    – Excellent cap flexibility (assuming we take back expiring deals for Lowry and Gay our only bad contract on the team would be Fields, and he expires next year)

    This is how you build a contender folks. You get your number one player through the draft, you sell high on players and don’t lose assets for nothing, and you avoid bad contracts.

    • Roarque

      Paul – I have no problem with your projected strategy. I like a long term team with JV and DDR starting and with Amir as the sixth man for his defensive ability. Amir’s long term problem could well be that his body breaks down by the time he’d thirty. The guy has a braveheart but his body is too small for his 6’9″ length. If Rudy and Kyle bring us a young starting PG in 2014 and we get a top five draft pick in 2014 then Masai will have earned his $$.
      Until then we’ll get Psycho T and Landry Fields doing a reasonable imitation of an M+NBA team with heart.
      I’d love to see our Beardman emerge as a Reggie in 2014/15.

  • NoExit

    Tim W. won’t have a shred of credibility by mid-season – if he had any at all after his positional rankings.

    • RaptorFan

      I’m actually thinking the same thing! lol
      I can’t wait for his “doom and gloom” predictions to BLOW UP in his face. He has to be the most negative contributor to RR ever (keep in mind i’ve only been on here for a few years now). 6-14 over their first 20 games right Tim W?? I hope you have thick skin, because your bold prediction will be remembered.
      I told you to be positive, but you went to WORST CASE SCENARIO…..of course i hope your wrong. BUT I can’t wait to throw it all back in your face. :)

      • 2damkule

        i know, right!?!?! i mean, he’s predicting ONLY 39 wins if MU leaves the roster as is…like, WHAT. THE. FUCK!!?!! WHAT A DEBBIE DOWNER. everyone knows this team is obviously a LOCK for like, 50-78 wins as currently constructed. man, i can’t WAIT for this to blow up in his face, just like last year, when he was off by…oh, crap…one game.

        • WhiteVegas

          I’m not sure how 6-14 out the gate leads to a 39-43 record. That means we would go 33-29 the remainder of the season. That quite the turnaround. Tim tripped over himself there.

          What really happened was he wanted to be pessimistic and say the team sucks by saying it will start 6-14. But he also wanted to advocate trading everyone to tank, so he had to say we’d barely miss the playoffs if we didn’t trade everyone.

          Which one is it Tim? Is this current roster a .300 team (6-14) or a .532 team (33-29)? What’s the reasoning behind the terrible start followed by the fantastic turnaround?

          • DDayLewis

            The schedule.

            • ItsAboutFun

              lol, it’s been clear you two have been quite chummy since the get-go, but even answering his questions for him? I was looking forward to Tim’s elaborate spin-doctoring (read gobblygook), but I guess two word “The schedule” is the explanation the question asked for?

              • DDayLewis

                Yeah we’re super chummy. He actually sent me to answer on his behalf.

                • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

                  Some people might remember we started off passionately debating the tanking issue, yet neither of us took the debate personally. And because we never resorted to insults, we gained each other’s respect. Maybe a lesson for some around here.

            • ckh26

              “Ball”

          • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

            As DDayLewis stated, you have to look at their schedule.
            http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/TOR/2014_games.html

            Nine games against teams that have a good chance of getting, at least, to the second round, and most of the games against comparable or worse teams are on the road.

            Last year, the team started off the year 7-18, but didn’t finish anywhere near a .280 record.

            In Bosh’s last season as a Raptor, the team started off the season 7-13, but finished with a 40-42 record.

            The season they won 47 games, the Raptors started off 7-13, as well.

            You guys love to jump on anyone who says ANYTHING about the Raptors you don’t like, but you might want to understand WHY those things are being said first.

            • ItsAboutFun

              “You guys love to jump on anyone who says ANYTHING about the Raptors you
              don’t like, but you might want to understand WHY those things are being
              said first.”

              First, the original question posed included “Explain”, which wasn’t provided, so how was anybody to understand the WHY, if it wasn’t given? The question was posed, so why the hissy sermon?

              Beyond that, you write what you believe/feel. People respond with what they believe/feel. Ya gotta stop with this “y’all aren’t fair when I don’t please y’all” thing. It’s a public forum on the internet. People have a right to speak to what they don’t like about your writing, without being preached to about how mistreated you are every time.

        • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

          Thanks for throwing last year’s 35-47 prediction back in my face! Of course, Hollinger was off by the same amount (on the low side), so I’m in good company, I guess.

          It’s just a prediction, based on their initial schedule. It certainly doesn’t seem to bring out the best in people, that’s for sure.

  • Pingback: RR Season Preview Panel – Part Two | Blake Murphy Sports Writing()