Toronto Raptors Mid Season Review
Jack Armstrong, Matt Devlin, Sherman Hamilton, Eric Smith, Mike Ulmer and Adnan Virk all chipped in their two cents on 7 questions regarding the Dino's performance up to this point. For the most part they seemed to agree on most questions so I'll give a short summary of their answers.
1. What has been the biggest surprise of the season for the Raptors thus far?
With the exception of Smith and Ulmer, they agree that Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems are the biggest surprise. The other two are pleasantly surprised by the play of Jarrett Jack.
2. Aside from Chris Bosh, who has been the Raptors’ most valuable contributor so far this season?
Virk: The biggest surprise to me has been the play of Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems. Neither had played many minutes in the NBA prior to this season but have filled a void for this team in the absence of Reggie Evans, as the Young Guns - energetic rebounders and hard working defensive players willing to do the dirty work and help the club in whatever way possible.
Sherm is the only one who doesn't agree that Il Mago is the most valuable contributor.
4. Is this team better, worse or about where you expected at this point of the season?
Armstrong: Andrea Bargnani has been very steady in his effort each day. I love the improvements he's making in his game and he's really matured quite a bit. He's trying to play tough, defend and rebound. His overall awareness and reliability has improved greatly.
The general consensus seems to be that the Dinos are at, if not, slightly below where they expected them to be.
5. In terms of seeding, where do you anticipate the Raptors will finish at the end of the regular season? If they qualify for the playoffs, just how far can they go?
Devlin: The Raptors are exactly where I thought they’d be at this stage of the season... I said this often, imagine if you ran a business with 15 total employees and nine of them were new to your company. How long would it take before you were operating on all cylinders. Then you factor in 30 games in the first 53 days or so and the Raptors are right where I thought they’d be.
The panel agrees that if the Dinos continue to play well they will land the 5th or 6th seed. Interesting to note that none of them says with any certainty that the Dinos will get out of the first round.
6. What do the Raptors need to improve most going forward?
Virk: I see the club as the number five or six seed in the Eastern Conference and think they can win a couple of playoff games but will be hard pressed to defeat Boston, Orlando, Cleveland or Atlanta in a seven-game series.
No surprise here. Consistency on D and improved wing production (yes Turk, we're all looking at you) is where the panel thinks the Dinos need to improve.
Armstrong: Wing spots. Turkoglu is capable of being a lot better player. He must elevate his game and be the impact guy they recruited to be this off-season. As I said previous, wing play/productivity must get to another level if they want to become an elite team.