How are those if's any worse than the Raptors?
Let's remember: Toronto was 11 seed last year. IMO they have not improved for sure. If everything clicks perfectly (If Bargnani stays health & is very productive, if DeRozan has a major improvement spurt, if Fields plays like his rookie season, if JV becomes a JV 5 years from now, if Lowry becomes a team player-he better with Casey...). Too many ifs if you ask me.
(Ok. I'll admit that the Lowry one was a stretch, but he did get into disagreements with McHale so it's at least 1% valid!)
How have they not improved for sure? you feeling all right bro? they have significantly improved at EVERY position. We are one of the more deeper teams this season. A lot of you guys are just looking at the starting five, but without a decent bench your team is going to suck ass when you take out your starters. The Nets are a good example of that outside of marshon brooks and maybe CJ watson i don't see anyone on their bench who can consistently put up good numbers. Look at our team:
PG: Lowry*, Calderon, John Lucas III*
SG: Derozan, T.Ross*, Alan Anderson
SF: Fields*, Kleiza, Mcguire*
PF: Bargnani, Ed, Acy*
C: Valanciunas*, Amir, Gray
* - Upgrade at that position
As you can see we upgraded at literally every position and our team is very deep. You can't say we didn't improve for sure. And it definitely won't take everything to click perfectly for us to make the playoffs. A jump from 11th to 8th seed is not big at all considering how much our roster has improved.
IMO this is by far our biggest obstacle.
Perhaps I am a bit of an optimist, but lets analyse the situation:
-This is East & IMO there are only 2 teams pretty much sure thing to make playoffs -lets call them Tier1
Tier 1: Miami
Tier 2: All good chance of making playoff (iff thing work out)
Boston (maybe even tier 1)
Chicago (With Rose -Tear 1)
Tier 3: Hopefulls:
Tier 4: Dreamers (Rest)
The goal is simple: we have to "bump off" at least 1 team from tier 2.
One common denominator of all tier 2 teams 1 or more major flaws:
-Boston was sub 500 before trade deadline last year, then took Miami to game 7. Yest they have improved somewhat, but if either Rondo or KG miss large amount of games -good luck (they might still be in playoff race, but Ainge will unload few guys & retool -like he almost did last year);
-NY Knicks -What if old farts don't cut it? Is there another Lin to give them a boost? Injuries? They can finish 2nd or 9th in division.
-Nets: Finished BELOW Raps last year. OK, they pick up grossly overpriced JJ, Lopez is back probably healthy, but 3 of resigned guys were somewhat to very over paid. Are they still motivated? How much is new area worth in terms of wins? What if they don't click right away? Does Prokorov look like a patient guy?
-Philly -Got Bynum, lost Lou, Brand Iggy & Vucevic. And this team was 8 seed last year. Bynum can have monster season IFF healthy (but Bynum & healthy, except for last year are not uttered in same sentence);
-Bulls -Without Rose lost to 8 seed last year. Lost Asik. Lost Lucas. Not too many solid improvements.
-Atlanta -Lost its best player & starting SF. Got back a backup PG (Harris). IMO they belong to tier 3 more than 2.
I would not be surprised one bit if at least 1 or even 2, tier 2 teams don't make the playoffs. Lets face it: This is East, not West.
Last but not least: Raps have improved quite a bit from last year: From starters (KL, Fields -both LIKELY improvements over last year), much better bench. This team is highly unlikely to start (not come off the bench) 3 D-leaugers. And we still finished 11th. 2 of our starters last year (Anderson & Ben) won't even make top 12 players.
I am not even putting a lot of expectations on Val & Ross.
Also we will have a full training camp under coach Casey (considering what he did last year with what he had, I can't wait).
Realistically this team can expect to finish 6-9 range;
Reasonable expectation: 40-45 wins.
This bit caught my eye. Toronto did quite well last year considering the talent level. I think there is improvement in the starting five, but a huge jump in the next 5-6 guys off the bench compared to last year. I still think that the bench is where the Raps pull ahead of other teams in their battle for a play-off spot.