April 15, 2011, 6:30 PM
Jack Armstrong

HELLO!!! ... and goodbye to the 22-60 Toronto Raptors 2010-11 season. Thank goodness for that. Rough season to say the least. Onward and upward. Time to look ahead and quickly focus on three areas that I feel the Raptors have to upgrade this offseason. They significantly improve these three aspects and they'll be in the hunt next year for a playoff spot. Enjoy the NBA Playoffs and have a wonderful offseason!

1. DEFENSE: Bottom Line, the performance in this area was sub-par and I'm being kind. Absolutely have to make big time strides in this category. Teams had way too easy a time penetrating into the lane and getting the Raptors into help/scramble mode. They were poor fundamentally in many respects and simply put, a greater level of effort, attention to fine detail and performance have to be upgraded for them to be, at the very least, respectable. Young team that made many mistakes in this area and the slippage was evident as the season progressed. Must dot the I's and cross the T's. Watch the playoffs -- the vast majority of the 16 teams alive right now make a significant commitment to do it and do it right.

2. THREE POINT SHOOTING: I'm not a fan of the over-use and/or over-reliance on the 3-ball, but you must shoot it enough and with good success to create spacing and a functional offense that can reach it's full potential. A bunched up offence commits turnovers too often and is susceptible to the zone defense. The more efficient the long ball, the better one-on-one opportunities present themselves in the post and on drives to the basket. Internal improvement from the returning players and finding a few in the offseason that can stroke it will be paramount.

3. UPGRADE TALENT LEVEL: A NO-BRAINER obviously, yet not easy to do. Gotta get lucky with the ping pong balls (third-best chance to win the lottery) and draft a stud who can make an impact by the middle of his second year. The Raptors have managed their cap space and the ability to attract a few free agents who can contribute in a top notch way will be huge. The new NBA CBA will be something difficult early on for every team to figure out as teams adapt to a new way of doing business (what that is? Your guess is as good as mine), but in time the teams that react/adjust quickly and have cap flexibility (Raptors are one of them) will be best able to strike hard and quickly at their top targets.

The Raptors need to continue to improve at the: point guard position, interior size and toughness/productivity and have to add some proven/mature veterans in the model that Raptors GM Glen Grunwald and coach Butch Carter used in the late 1990's-early 2000's to compliment the young talent with guys who can still produce and yet provide assistance to the coaching staff with the internal leadership and hold teammates to a higher standard of accountability and professionalism. Mugsy Bogues, Dell Curry, Kevin Willis, Charles Oakley and Antonio Davis brought that back in the day for Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter and the rest of that team and it's vital again that a few 'tough vets' can provide the know-how to get this thing turned around.
http://www.nba.com/raptors/NBATVCanada_blog/2011/apr