I know you're not going to really care about what I just said, because it pours cold water on your optimism, but the difference between a good team is a bad team is not only talent, but players who know how to win. And, quite frankly, few on the Raptors know how to win.
OK, here's my guess... 15-18. Why you ask? Well, in my observations from watching ball, defensive teams tend to score less (perhaps because they expend much of their energy on defence). Defensive teams also tend to have one or two players in the line-up with simply defence on mind (like a Bruce Bowen or a Sefolosha). This team I think will lose quite a bit because the players they have are not known for their defence and are being asked / told to focus on things that are lacking in their game.
Heck, I'd be happy if they only won 12. That's top 5-lottery numbers. I'd also be happy if they lose most games by several points while keeping their opponents under a 100 points. The defensive growth they can accumulate this year will be far more beneficial to the team down the line when it comes to signing free agents next year. With the core experiencing more time together under Casey's system, I think this will be good for everyone. Casey will last the duration of his contract because his methods are different from past coaches and really, with such low expectations from this team, the Raps will fly under the radar. Can you really fire him halfway through his contract when defence is the lesson? So, 15-18 wins it is but 12 would be better if the team pushes for a more defensive stance, while at times struggling to score. That's all fine by me.
i'll go with 16. originally (i.e. a week or so ago), i was thinking they'd be right at 18 (which is the same winning % as last year), but even though i think they'll be better defensively (eventually), i think that the shortened season works against them. for one, they're still a young team at their core; despite adding a slew of vets, those vets really aren't going to (nor are they expected to) contribute much on the court. their presence is more valuable as mentors to show the youngsters the ropes & create a more mature locker-room vibe. i think that vet. teams may not have an advantage from an energy standpoint with such a condensed schedule, but they will have a better understanding that each game has greater significance, and there will be fewer games 'stolen' by lesser teams against them. there will always be teams that choose to rest their vets (i.e. the spurs), but for the most part, teams with playoff aspirations will be going hard each & every game.
for another - i think we're REAAAALLY overstating the move of bargs to the 4. all that (and the signing of gray - magloire is a footnote) does is limit PT for guys like amir & davis, two players who actually contribute in a positive way to the team winning. so, let's say gray starts with bargs (at the 5 & 4, respectively)...we do realize that we're now expecting AARON GRAY to cover for bargnani, right? all while reducing amir & eds PT & (potentially) slowing their development. faaaantastic. oh, and when they do go with either amir or ed at the 5...they'll still be putting bargs out there at the 4, which is the same thing they did last year. so, the big improvement is adding an exceptionally marginal 5 in gray, and that's supposed to have some sort of meaningful difference? i guess if it shifts the blame from bargs, mission accomplished...
I voted for 15-18, but I just looked at the schedule for the first time and I now think it'll be closer to the previous choice, 11-14 wins. I think we'll have 5-6 wins by the end of February, but things will "turn around" in March and April as the team grows accustomed to the level of effort required by Casey's system.
Or it could go the other way, where we start off really well and then start losing like crazy, as the young guys discover that even when they put in the hustle and effort and play Casey's system, they simply don't have the talent to pull out wins. Then by the time the second half rolls around, they'll be so discouraged and not want to put in the effort, and plus injuries will start piling up that they'll actually digress (record-wise).
Same result either way though.
I predicted 16 wins prior to all the signings. After hearing about Gray, Magloire and Carter - I think that prediction will stand.
For all their talk about defense.. I have a feeling that their offense will struggle. If more energy and thought needs to be expelled on defense, they will have less of that to use on offense. If there are so many back to back games, it will make it even harder to work hard on offense. The teams that have veteran talent will be able to succeed simply because for the most part they will be optimally sound on offense.
If statistically our best player last year gets less minutes this year then it will be even tougher to win. A new system with some new faces, with less practice time and a new coach means a lot more mistakes. I see the Raptors losing a lot earlier on. Will probably have about 5 or 6 wins by all-star break. Then will get 10 more after the break when most of the better teams are already in the playoffs and will be resting more of their talent.
I am about 19wins on prediction for the season, most of this coming from the coaching change, minor amounts from improved players.
with the vast improvement of the rest of the league, i dont think the raptors will be as competitive.. buut all these investments other teams are making are short term while the raps have a long term plan that has the potential to make us really really really good. (val at c, ed at pf, derozan at sg, bayless at pg) is a great young block (offensively and defensively!!) moving forward and im so super excited at how these kids are going to improve! add in a veteran sf and we have a team that will surprise so many people in a few years! until then i think we are going to have 18 wins this season :P
15-18 wins sounds about right. Because this is a young team, they're gonna catch a lot of older clubs on nights of back to backs or back to back to backs.
I'm pessimistic, i'm going for 22 (-24) and that's too much for my liking.