Reasons for Optimism
Expectations were high in the offseason, and now we are hurting.
We have gone back and forth, attempting to pinpoint the issue holding us back from our promised playoff run. Is it Bargnani? Coach Casey? Landry Fields? Dominique McGuire? Bryan Colangelo? Referees? Matt Devlin?
Who knows, but it seems after every game we have a new name on our list.
I think we need to get a few facts straightened out, and I believe that when people take a step back from the emotions of the recent HEART wrenching losses, they will be able to recognize the reasons for optimism on this team.
Lets begin by listing our close games:
Indiana 90 vs Toronto 88
Dallas 109 vs Toronto 104
Utah 140 vs Toronto 133 (3OT)
Philadelphia 106 vs Toronto 98 [tied with less than 2 minutes to go]
Charlotte 98 vs Toronto 97 [NBA retracts no-call, by all practical purposes, this was a win]
Detroit 91 vs Toronto 90
3 games decided by 2 points or less (one shot/one call)
1 Triple Overtime, meaning it was tied by the games end (one shot/one call)
1 tied game with 2 minutes to go
1 5 point game (3 shots)
What needs to be gathered is that our 3-10 record is deceiving.
Charlotte I am going to chalk up as a win, because even the NBA agrees, it was. 4-9
Now besides Charlotte, I am not claiming that any of these games are wins, or should be considered potential wins. My point is that each one of these games couldve gone either way, and if one shot went in, the perception of the entire game all of a sudden becomes positive, where as if that shot does not go in, the perception of the entire game turns to complete crap and frustration.
I do not consider this performance by the raptors to be below expectations whatsoever. Very easily we could be at 6-7 (3 games decided by 1 shot/call), and if we were and all the performances were the same, the perception would be that the raptors are right on track to their development as a team, and frustration levels would be much lower.
Lets look at other factors that justify our crappy record:
-Rookie Starting Center
-Starting PG and arguably best player, hurt for multiple games
-Landry Fields nerve has missed enough shots to rightfully be accountable to some of those losses
-2 stretches of 4 games in 5 days
-5 back-backs (out of 13 total games)
Now that we have soften those losses, lets talk about positives, and why this team is exciting:
-JV is the real deal. Rookie mistakes and lack of experience still a factor, and will be for a while, but he has met my hype in the off-season and is right on track!
-Lowry came in with MVP numbers to start the season, before the injury. Before the game where he got hurt, he was tied with Harden at the top of the league in Eff. (Yet only Harden got any media attention for that stretch)
-Derozan has shown massive strides towards becoming a more complete player. He is right on track to developing into the player we all are hoping he can be!
-Calderon was the 2nd best PG in the LEAGUE during kyle lowrys injuries, including 1 triple double, an 18ast night, and 5 consecutive 10+ ast games. His numbers as a starter are incredible.
-Ed is showing an awareness and activity on the court Ive never seen before. Despite his minutes being shot in the arm, when he is on the floor, I feel it (whereas before, he did his work quietly) I love his development, and wish for him to get more minutes!
-Ross has the tools. A silky jumper + great defensive ability on the perimeter. From what I have seen, I consider him the best close-out defender + shot contester on this team. Wait for his nerves to cool, and for the game to slow down for him. He fits a much needed role and will succeed at it, but is currently failing to produce as a rookie.
Overall, not only do I see a stronger core than ever in a raptors uniform (JV - Derozan - Lowry), but I see the potential for others on the roster to join (Ross). Calderon, if he gets traded, will bring back sweeter fruits, and if he stays all the better!
Ages of our players going forward:
Lowry - 26/27
Derozan - 23
JV - 20
Ross - 21
Ed - 23
Amir - 25
Fields - 24
Seeing as how 3/5 of our starters are 24 and under, and our 'vets' are 27, I LOVE the room for improvement in this current squad.
I would love to hear of other reasons to maintain optimism that Ive missed. I hope it does not just sound like excuse making, I am not trying to excuse anyone! I am merely pointing out that our team is young, raw, and above-all, competitive (which is new). What's worse? A blow-out or a close loss? For a fans perspective, a close loss is MUCH more frustrating. From a practical perspective, close losses are the development we need. Im not sure if anyone remembers the days, of 40 point-losses (with bosh), or streaks of blow out losses, but I do.
Close losses are more frustrating and take their toll on fans
But let me just say this:
Growing is a frustrating process, but you cannot give up on it.
Optimism is a positive feeling that produces positive results. I don't mean to be preachy but a negative reaction to a negative result can only result in negative things.
As mentioned above a core of Lowry, Derozan and especially JV is no ordinary one. The best part is that Bargnani who is supposed to be if not the main piece, one of the main pieces is not even mentioned in the core. A group of young, skillful players are going to take some time to turn into a successful team. If another solid piece(likely to happen sometime soon) is added to this core group, I don't see why Raps won't be a threat.
I think this raptors roster has the most potential out of any (save a young Tmac + Vince) prodded out in uniform.
I suggest we do everything we can to stick to a development route, and not make regrettable trades to win now.
(unless youre trading bargnani ofcourse, I dont see what his role on our team is anymore)
I agree that with many frustrated fans that, it's extremely tough to watch a team that plays as a whole Lebron James. Great 3 quarters, 4th quarter has either disappeared, or just holding onto dear life.
BUT, these fans are getting too impatient. Coach Casey and BC said that playoffs is a goal, yes, but whether they make it or not isn't the whole future vision of this team. They've constantly said themselves as well, this is a team NOW in the building phase, after being in the re-building phase for 2 years.
To be honest though, someone made a great point about Coach Casey. Coach Casey has developed a culture and identity of defense with the guys last year. Unfortunately, many of those guys that were originally a big part of the culture build, are now gone. Now that new guys are in, only a few remain, and Coach Casey is implementing the offensive system, while he's assuming that everyone will just play defense. Well, wake up Coach, these guys didn't learn that system, and most of those guys who DID learn the defensive system, quite frankly aren't anywhere NEAR defensive stoppers (Derozan, Bargnani, Calderon, Anderson).
Coach Casey was originally a big part of optimism from last year going into the current one. Now he seems to be in the fan's 'hot seat.'
Agreed. Derozan has made strides this season, and has made some major improvements. Lowry is probably a little away from entering his prime, and JV is a rookie centre, who quite frankly plays as one of the top bigs right now.
To be honest though, I'm tired of Bargnani. Too much inconsistency, and too much "I don't give a shit" to really think he can be a big part of this team. Too long of a leash.
I applaud the optimism.
I feel like a part of my Raptor soul has died this year after watching the last 4 seasons and being so excited about this year only to be let down by the Raptors - again.
I'm think I'm ready to concede that this is just yet another bad team taking the court for Toronto. There are certainly good pieces but as a group - right now - they are just bad. Hopefully that turns around soon but after every game the excuse is, "Well it is only (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and now) 13 games. Yes there are 69 games to go but..................
I am not optimistic.
I am cautiously optimistic right now. Our record does stink, and it's going to get worse with a slew of games against west coast opposition coming up. We do, however, have good pieces that'll continue to get better and better playing together as the season wears on. We have a pretty good roster, it's just a matter of our guys living up to their potential and playing some god damn defense!
I have been a Raptor fan for a very long time, and over time I have been very cautious with my expectations. I made the mistake this past off season where I actually expected more than what they gave me, and that is what upsets me. I should have just been as cautious as I was in previous seasons.
This team needs a big change at the top. Once Bryan is off the team, that is when I may become a little less cautious again. But if he continues to be the president/gm then I am always going to be skeptical. And that sucks when you are a fan of the team.
It is not in our control but IMO for this team to be successful, Bryan must stay. Barring some mistakes naturally, he is the main architect of this rebuilding team. Yes it looks like a hopeless team but that is AS OF NOW. The rebuilding is still in process. Even though it sounds cliche, it is a fact. If Bryan is fired, hopefully not but there's the possibility of an overhaul. This process could take years only to eventually fail. I say STAY THE COURSE.
Not optimistic at all. At least not long-term.
Anyone calling for more years of BC's rebuild-on-the-fly crap needs to take a good hard look at the roster and how badly BC has managed his assets during his Raptors tenure. He's consistently put his money on the wrong horses and we continue to see the results. Still no franchise player, still not much hope for the future.
On the other hand, I'm very optimistic that the Raps will continue to struggle with inconsistency, hand over a late lottery pick to the Thunder, that BC will get canned and that another GM will come in and clean house with an eye towards the 2014 and 15 drafts.
The Raptors have been blown only twice in 13 games. I have been entertained by the very tight games of late, though the finishes have been disheartening. I am hopeful that the Raptors close out better in the near future.
I agree, I like where the team is going, and am afraid another GM would unravel our development
I would have much more faith with Colangelo moving forward if Bargnani was traded. It would show the fanbase, well, at least me, that he finally realizes that square peg is not going through the round hole no matter how hard he tries.
I agree, Bargnani needs trading, and Im giving BC until this offseason to do it.
Reasons for optimism = Valanciunas.
DD's improvement in his game is a positive too.
I'm crossing my fingers hoping BC is trying to shakedown some trade to try and get us back on track. This trade better include bargs tho
If there is ANYTHING about BC I respect; is his ability to sell his players (to the fans AND opposing GMs)
Do you remember getting Marion for J.O?! Holy crap. If we could pull of something similar with Bargnani (Gasol) then BC will solidify his mythical salesman ship that won him the job in the first place!
EDIT: and Hedo for Barbosa!
O'Neal brought Marion.
Marion brought Hedo.
Hedo brought Barbosa.
Barbosa brought Acy and cap space that brought Fields and helped get Lowry.
This in my opinion is an example of BC doing everything he can to fix his wrongs. IMO he recovers well
I don't think he has recovered well.
He is working his @ss off to stay in the same place in my opinion.... basically treading water.
This year is showing signs of fatigue as they are falling behind and starting to drown earlier. I'm sure things will turn around but the current winning percentage is even below Triano post-Bosh.