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Thread: ESPN Insider East Rankings: Raptors 13th out of 15

  1. #1
    Administrator Arsenalist's Avatar
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    Default ESPN Insider East Rankings: Raptors 13th out of 15

    Toronto has finally come to grips with reality. No longer are the Raps delusional about loading up on mediocre veterans with long-term deals, nor about winning games without bothering to play defense. With Toronto again last in defensive efficiency in 2010-11, the overmatched Jay Triano was finally shown the door. Replacing him is former Dallas zone defense maestro Dwane Casey, who now must upgrade one of the most pathetic defensive outfits in league annals.

    Central to Casey's cause is center Andrea Bargnani, who is offensively gifted but remains one of the most clueless off-ball defenders in the game. He's mobile for his size, though, and the Raps might experiment with playing him at power forward periodically now that they have some genuine size. Don't be surprised if 7-footers Solomon Alabi and Aaron Gray get a fair amount of run.

    Alas, they also have to clear minutes for Ed Davis, a revelation as a high-percentage finisher last season, but one who needs to add strength to battle NBA big men. Ditto for Amir Johnson, who quietly had a strong season in 2010-11 but, like his frontcourt mates, suffers from a lack of lower-body strength at the defensive end.

    In fact, Toronto's frontcourt looks pretty darn good going forward. First-round pick Jonas Valanciunas won't be coming over this season, but at only 19 years of age, he ranks among the best players in Europe and looks like a star in the making. He and Davis could be a fearsome combo in five years; Bargnani, whatever you think of him, would make for a pretty potent sixth man in that arrangement.

    On the wing, DeMar DeRozan flashed some star potential as a scorer, but the rest of his game lies dormant; he needs to pass the ball once in a while and play some defense. Small forward looms as a huge weakness, although the talented but ridiculously mistake-prone James Johnson remains intriguing. And at the point, Jose Calderon is a flawless offensive operator and a traffic cone for opposing point guards.

    Big picture, there are a lot of problems here beyond Casey's control -- team president Bryan Colangelo invested almost entirely in offensive players, so the result is again likely to be a decent offense paired with a hopeless defense. But if Casey can persuade his charges -- particularly Bargnani -- to compete and at least use their length as a deterrent, the Raptors' D should be less of an embarrassment.
    Rankings are:

    1. Miami
    2. Chicago
    3. Boston
    4. Orlando,
    5. Philly
    6. Indiana,
    7. New York
    8. Milwaukee
    9. Atlanta
    10. NJ
    11. Washington
    12. Detroit
    13. Toronto
    14. Cleveland
    15. Charlotte

  2. #2
    Raptors Republic Icon mcHAPPY's Avatar
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    That is actually a very good write up. I find it tough to find anything in there to disagree with.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Joey's Avatar
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    Great read. Thanks for posting Ars.

    I'd say they were very fair in their evaluation of the Raptors.
    "That was Nasty right? Cocked that Joint back and banged on 'em." -James Johnson

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    Super Moderator MangoKid's Avatar
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    New York in 7th is a bit too low. I'm surprised that they have Atlanta out of the playoff picture.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star yertu damkule's Avatar
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    Quote Matt52 wrote: View Post
    That is actually a very good write up. I find it tough to find anything in there to disagree with.
    agree with the assessment. not sure i agree with the standings prediction. not that i don't think the raps won't be somewhere in the 13th spot (give or take a spot or two in either direction), but rather, i see the c**tics having a bit of a slide & going with the spurs' approach of resting their older guys, sacrificing games (and placement in the