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Thread: HoopsWorld.com : Six Reasons Why Toronto Makes the Playoffs

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    Raptors Republic Starter theycallmeZZ's Avatar
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    Default HoopsWorld.com : Six Reasons Why Toronto Makes the Playoffs

    http://www.hoopsworld.com/six-reason...-the-playoffs/

    by Stephen Brotherston
    The Toronto Raptors have been getting noticed this off season and with good reason. This team has gotten better. The only thing standing in the way of a guaranteed playoff spot next April may be that Boston, Brooklyn, New York, and Philadelphia have also made big-time additions to their rosters, but improving division rivals do not preclude a dramatic rise from last season’s 23-43 record.

    The Raptors have continuity with the return of eight rotation players and they made significant upgrades with their additions. The impact of incoming point guards Kyle Lowry and John Lucas III cannot be overstated as they replace the oft-injured Jerryd Bayless and a parade of sub-par fill-ins that included Anthony Carter, Gary Forbes, Justin Dentmon, and Ben Uzoh. The former Knick Landry Fields provides a more mature small forward in place of James Johnson. Rookie Terrence Ross should become a reasonable offensive replacement for Leandro Barbosa and surpass Barbosa at the defensive end of the floor and rookie Jonas Valanciunas may be the Raptors’ best center from day one.

    Last season, the Raptors were rarely out of a game, even against the league’s best teams, and with the roster upgrades, head coach Dwane Casey will be able to build on last year’s program. Here are six core reasons why the Raptors will make the 2012-13 NBA playoffs.

    1. Defense

    In 2010-11, Toronto gave up 105.4 points per game and was the second-easiest team to score on in the NBA. The Raptors couldn’t stop anyone. Since last summer, Coach Casey has changed the team’s culture and in a lockout shortened season, the Raptors surrendered the ninth-fewest points allowed at 94, while holding teams to the league’s eighth-lowest field goal percentage. With a full training camp and preseason schedule, there is a realistic expectation the Raptors’ defense would have been even better this time without any roster upgrades, but this roster is better.

    As much as Coach Casey appreciated last season’s defensive effort, he hasn’t been able to resist explaining how Lowry and Fields will give him defenders on the perimeter who can defend their own man without help. Lowry represents a significant upgrade over Jose Calderon defensively and as impressive as James Johnson’s defensive statistics were last season, when Casey replaced him with D-League call-up Alan Anderson, the Raptors’ defense didn’t miss a beat. Anderson is back and Fields will be an upgrade defensively at small forward. Even as a rookie, Valanciunas will improve the Raptors defense at center and all the team’s key big men are back to help hold down the fort.

    2. Rebounding

    In the past, the Raptors have been known as a poor rebounding team that gave extra shots to their opponents. Under Coach Casey, those days are gone.

    Last season was the first time in a decade that the Raptors averaged more boards than their opponents and they did it without a dominate rebounder on the team. Rebounding by committee, Ed Davis led the Raptors at 6.6 rebounds per game and Toronto finished the season with the league’s tenth best rebounding differential.

    Next season should be even better as Lowry is a very good rebounding guard and Valanciunas adds another rebounding big man to the roster.

    3. Scoring

    The Raptors were the third-lowest scoring team in the NBA at 90.7 points per game last season and Casey made obtaining more shooters a priority, but it wasn’t all bad offensively in Toronto. With the team’s improved defense, the Raptors averaged more shots per game than their opposition and shot for a higher percentage. Unfortunately, losing Andrea Bargnani’s scoring for over half the season wasn’t something Toronto could overcome.

    A healthy Bargnani could get back to the 23.5 points per game he was averaging before his injury last season and Lowry averaged 3.8 more points per game than Calderon. While no one expects Casey to suddenly be coaching an offensive juggernaut, the Raptors should have enough scoring to creep back into the middle of the pack.

    4. Free Throw Attempts

    Toronto gave up a league worst 27.2 free throw attempts per game last season and averaged 5.8 fewer attempts than their opposition. The 3.8 points scored by their opponents from these extra free throws exceeded the difference between the Raptors 90.7 scoring average and the 94 points they allowed.

    Another year under Casey’s system should help reduce Toronto’s tendency to give away points at the foul line, but a bigger impact will come from having Bargnani in the lineup for a full season and the addition of Lowry. Bargnani averaged 5.6 free throw attempts per game last year and could have made up half the discrepancy in attempts on his own if he had played the full season, plus Lowry averaged 2.9 more attempts per game than Calderon. Next season, the huge gap in free throw attempts between the Raptors and their opponents should be reduced.

    5. Three–Point Shooting

    Although the Raptors were taking more shots than their opponents, they were giving up 2.3 more three-point attempts than they were taking and it wasn’t because of Casey’s offensive schemes. Three-point threats Bargnani and Bayless each missed half the season, Kleiza missed a quarter of the season, and Calderon has always been a reluctant shooter, but Casey still made it clear he wanted to add more willing and able shooters this summer.

    Lowry is not a reluctant three-point threat, firing 4.5 threes per game. Bargnani and Kleiza both averaged 3.7 three-point attempts last season and Ross, Fields and the returning Anderson are all solid long range threats who are willing shooters.

    Casey got what he asked for and the Raptors will no longer be out-shot from the outside.

    6. Turnovers

    Toronto was in a three-way tie for the seventh-most turnovers last season at 15.2 per game, but as they only forced their opposition to turn it over 13.2 times, they had the league’s third-worst differential. Of the 18 players who played for the Raptors last season, the top-five in turnovers per 36 minutes will not be back. Notably, the turnovers from Carter, Bayless, Forbes and Barbosa will no longer be an issue.

    However, creating a turnover was also a problem as the Raptors only averaged 6.5 steals per game compared to the 7.9 league median. Lowry averaged 0.7 more steals than Calderon last season and Fields will replace the steals lost with the departure of Johnson, but further improvements in this area will have to come from player development and better understanding of the team’s defense.

    Much of the Raptors own turnover problems could be blamed on injures to the backup point guards and learning a new offensive system on the fly. This year, with two starting caliber point guards, a proven backup point guard and a full training camp and preseason to implement an offense, the Raptors turnover issues should be greatly reduced.

    In just one lockout-shortened season, Coach Casey changed the culture in Toronto. Once one of the easiest teams to score and rebound against in the NBA, Casey’s Raptors rapidly evolved into a top-10 rebounding and defensive club. The next step is to build on last year’s efforts and create enough offensive punch to win some games and the changes to last season’s roster have gone a long way towards accomplishing those goals.

    “In year three of a building process, we are hopeful to compete for a playoff spot,” said Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo. “That is our goal. That is our desired plan right now.

    “It is fair to say that a whole host of things will dictate whether or not it’s a realistic goal (including) health of players, chemistry, team coming together, and a full training camp where the coach can implement not only the defensive system but the offensive side of the ball as well. We hope that everything we have done from a personnel standpoint and everything that we do from a strategic standpoint is going to put us in a position to compete for the playoffs.”

    If health and chemistry don’t sabotage Colangelo’s plans, the Raptors are a playoff caliber team in the Eastern Conference this season.
    TORONTOOOOOO RAPTORSSSSSS

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    Raptors Republic Rookie Sheptor's Avatar
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    7. Break out potential

    Another reason for optimism with this team is the number of players in line for "breakout" seasons.

    Bargnani, Davis, DeRozan, Fields, Lowry. Add to this group a likelihood of consistent rookie performances from Val. and Ross and you have to like what you see.

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    Raptors Republic Starter albertan_10's Avatar
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    i love that Andre Borg is your avatar Sheptor

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    Raptors Republic Veteran LBF's Avatar
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    Hey...Stephen!...Stephen!?

    How much are they paying you!?

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Chr1s1anL's Avatar
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    Quote LBF wrote: View Post
    Hey...Stephen!...Stephen!?

    How much are they paying you!?
    would be more interesting if it wasn't Stephen
    @Chr1st1anL

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Puffer's Avatar
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    Quote LBF wrote: View Post
    Hey...Stephen!...Stephen!?

    How much are they paying you!?
    Just wondering if the points he made are somehow invalid because of who he is? I don't read hoopsworld, so I don't know anything about this guy. Were the numbers he was quoting wrong?

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    Raptors Republic All-Star Craiger's Avatar
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    Quote Puffer wrote: View Post
    Just wondering if the points he made are somehow invalid because of who he is? I don't read hoopsworld, so I don't know anything about this guy. Were the numbers he was quoting wrong?
    He at times adjusts for pace, sometimes per 36 and other times just raw numbers - which ofcourse can make a significant difference. His numbers aren't wrong, they just aren't normalized.


    But anyways, if you've read Brotherson before, its his Doug Smith without connections approach to the team that I'm assuming makes people question his writing. They are puff peices.

    In this article he is basically saying if the Raptors improve in every aspect of basketball, the teams rookies can come in and contribute, and health and chemistry don't have a negative impact on the team (which was simply parroting Colangelo's statement the paragraph above), they'll make the playoffs.

    Well that can apply to nearly every team in the league though.

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Puffer's Avatar
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    Thanks for the explanation.

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    Raptors Republic Hall of Famer mcHAPPY's Avatar
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    Quote Craiger wrote: View Post
    He at times adjusts for pace, sometimes per 36 and other times just raw numbers - which ofcourse can make a significant difference. His numbers aren't wrong, they just aren't normalized.


    But anyways, if you've read Brotherson before, its his Doug Smith without connections approach to the team that I'm assuming makes people question his writing. They are puff peices.

    In this article he is basically saying if the Raptors improve in every aspect of basketball, the teams rookies can come in and contribute, and health and chemistry don't have a negative impact on the team (which was simply parroting Colangelo's statement the paragraph above), they'll make the playoffs.

    Well that can apply to nearly every team in the league though.
    So what is the problem? He is a columnist giving an opinion.

    I agree the piece is very optimistic but what is wrong with that? Has the roster not improved on paper? Won't more practice and teaching by Casey have improvements given what they were able to accomplish in a short period of time? Have weaknesses in the team not been addressed?

    The only issue I see with the piece is the reality that not everything is going to go the Raps way this season. Not every player is going to improve, there will be injuries along the way as well as conflicts, and there will be slumps or bad games by key players.... but they are (or should) also be givens.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star Craiger's Avatar
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    Quote Matt52 wrote: View Post
    So what is the problem? He is a columnist giving an opinion.

    I agree the piece is very optimistic but what is wrong with that? Has the roster not improved on paper? Won't more practice and teaching by Casey have improvements given what they were able to accomplish in a short period of time? Have weaknesses in the team not been addressed?
    The only issue I see with the piece is the reality that not everything is going to go the Raps way this season. Not every player is going to improve, there will be injuries along the way as well as conflicts, and there will be slumps or bad games by key players.... but they are (or should) also be givens.
    This coming from a guy who calls writers who aren't positive on the Raptors biased (Hollinger) or 'not journalists' (Simmons) .

    Too each their own I guess.

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    Super Moderator ReubenJRD's Avatar
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    I'm quite surprised 'Overall Talent' was not a reason.

    We had quite the addition of talent, and at basically every position. Arguably, we have an upgrade in the depth chart compared to the past season. In my opinion, it's not even a fair contest.

    Kyle Lowry, John Lucas III, Terrence Ross, Landry Fields, Quincy Acy, Jonas Valanciunas.

    Quite the influx of talent, especially 4 out of the 6 can make an impact on the team's success. (Lowry, Ross, Fields, Valanciunas.)

    Question is, can they gel together?

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    Should we be taking anything Stephen says seriously - isn't it basically the equivalent of Aresenaulist writing the piece - I feel hoopsworld just hired a few guys to satisfy the fans of all the small market teams and we take everything they write to heart. Yes I agree that on paper we have a good shot at 7th or 8th seed but I would feel a lot better if the article was written by hoopsworld more recognized writers

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    Raptors Republic Starter skywalker's Avatar
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    I had a dream last night that Bargnani had his best season ever lol

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    Raptors Republic Hall of Famer mcHAPPY's Avatar
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    In my search to find something from John Hollinger that was positive on the Raptors, I had to go back to September 30th, 2008. Clearly Colangelo and the Raptors made him look like an idiot in hindsight heading in to the 2008-2009 season. Now the bias is definitely understood and even appreciated.

    Biggest Strength: Interior defense
    It sounds crazy to be saying this about a Raptors team, but if O'Neal is even remotely healthy it will be true. His defense hasn't received a lot of attention so I'm not sure casual fans understand what a force he is at that end -- he not only block shots, rebounds and takes charges, but he's tough enough to guard the opponent's top post threat every night. Those attributes will be immensely helpful to Bosh, as he often was an undersized center in previous Raptors lineups.

    Instead, he can be the active, perimeter-focused guy who guards the lesser of the opponent's frontcourt threats and can make plays from the weak side with his quickness and length. Those who watched the U.S. Olympic team saw what a force he can be in that role.

    In addition, don't forget about small forward Jamario Moon, another long high-flier who blocks shots like a big man. Between he, Bosh and O'Neal the Raps should be among the league leaders in shot blocks and defensive rebounding, even with relatively little help from the frontcourt off the pine.

    Outlook
    In projecting Toronto's record, it's important to note that they had the performance of a 52-win team a year ago, even though they only won 41 games, and that they could have won even more had they not sabotaged themselves by keeping Bargnani in the rotation.

    The trade for O'Neal offers another potential bright spot. While Calderon can take over most of the minutes that Ford played a year ago, O'Neal fills in a large defensive void and, if healthy, should greatly improve Toronto at this end. That's the rub, of course -- I projected him to average 27 minutes a game, including injury time-outs, and even that may have been optimistic.

    Additionally, the bench seems nowhere near as strong as the unit from a year ago. Toronto finds itself counting on players like Ukic, Kapono and Bargnani, and based on their numbers from a season ago that's a scary proposition indeed. It's possible Bargnani surprises us with a breakout year, but the odds of the other two doing so are remote.

    Add it all up and you have a sleeper in the East, but one whose lack of depth and injury-prone frontcourt make it unlikely to pile up a huge regular-season victory total. They may very well win a round in the playoffs, but they're not quite ready to move into the conference's upper crust yet.

    Prediction: 47-35, 3rd in Atlantic Division, T-5th in Eastern Conference

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/traini...rsForecast0809
    To Hollinger's credit, nothing (outside of hiring Dwane Casey) has turned out as planned or hoped for the Raptors in the last 4 years so why should they start now? Afterall, according to Hollinger the pick for Lowry to Houston is a guaranteed lottery pick from Toronto.

    I do hope his forecast of the 2012-13 Raptors is as accurate as his 2008-2009 forecast.

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    Raptors Republic Starter theycallmeZZ's Avatar
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    Guys, guys... There's no need to argue.

    If you agree with the article, good.

    If you feel negative about the Raptors, refer to that other thread that I'm too lazy to link to. Or just wallow in your despair. Or go party with Jamshid on the front page articles. LOL
    TORONTOOOOOO RAPTORSSSSSS

  16. #16
    Raptors Republic Veteran Nilanka's Avatar
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    I can't argue with the stats Brotherston presented in his article. But since he was just a regular poster on this site, then went on to write for Bleacher Report, there's an "amateur hour" feeling surrounding everything he writes. Just my opinion, of course (based on unreliable first impressions).

    Having said that, I hope he's right about the Raptors making the playoffs. But I wouldn't feel comfortable making assertions that it WILL happen.
    "I don't lie. I willfully participate in a campaign of misinformation." - Fox Mulder

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    Raptors Republic All-Star brothersteve's Avatar
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    News Flash boys, every piece by every writer is an opinion piece (or "puff piece") in August & September - there are no hard facts to go on as no team has played a game with the new lineups, heck, training camps haven't even started. No team really knows if the moves they made in the off season will pan out - let alone anyone in the media. But that's not a reason to avoid looking at what's happened and trying to draw some early conclusions.

    Articles/rankings/etc written now are to generate discussion about the moves teams have made, might make and whether or not those moves will make the team better - if you want hard-core researched stuff, you'll have to wait until the season starts and we get to start interviewing guys after all those new players on the various teams actually get to play together.

    Personally, I like the off season - Supporting or trashing the moves made by a GM over the summer is a sport in and of itself.
    The best Raptors discussion board is at Raptors Republic.

    Stephen Brotherston, Pro Bball Report

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Puffer's Avatar
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    Quote brothersteve wrote: View Post
    ...Personally, I like the off season - Supporting or trashing the moves made by a GM over the summer is a sport in and of itself.
    That's nothing compared to supporting or trashing posts made by loony tunes RR citizens. You guys know who you are. Now just stop it.

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    Raptors Republic Hall of Famer mcHAPPY's Avatar
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    A possible 7th reason why Toronto could make the playoffs:

    Wall Hits A Wall

    A year ago, the Washington Wizards had the second-worst record in the NBA, but with the addition of a top-three draft pick, a handful of experienced veterans to replace a handful of outgoing knuckleheads, and of course the further development of former number one overall selection John Wall, the Wizards are expected to be a much-improved organization in 2012-2013.

    That renaissance may have to wait a little while, though—8 weeks, to be more precise—as it was announced Friday evening that Wall would miss about eight weeks to heal a burgeoning stress fracture in his knee cap.

    On the one hand, this isn’t a season-crusher for the Wizards, but on the other hand it means the team’s best player and floor leader will miss the entire preseason and around 12 regular-season games. A return in the first week of December is the realistic expectation, so even though this doesn’t rob the Wizards of their playoff hopes, it could make it more difficult if they’re unable to leap off to a hot start without their talented young point guard.

    The Wizards are looking on the bright side, however, with team president Ernie Grunfeld using terminology like “a minor setback” and “a bump in the road” to describe the injury. Despite the relatively long healing time, the good news is that this wasn’t a serious injury sustained all at once. Wall reportedly had pain his knee a month ago, but tests didn’t show any problems.

    Another MRI on Thursday performed by orthopedic specialist Dr. David Altchek showed the beginnings of a stress fracture that was only going to get worse if Wall didn’t start resting and rehabbing it. Hence, 8 weeks.

    “(It’s) just something that happens when you work out very hard. That’s all I can say,” Wall told the Associated Press. “It’s very tough for me.”

    It’s very tough for his team, too, but at least it’s not a season-ending injury, and at least he’s addressing it before training camp. It would’ve been nice to catch the fracture sooner, but it sounds like it wasn’t there sooner to be caught.

    Either way, Wall will work very hard to get back on the floor, because as he told HOOPSWORLD in a Summer League interview back in July, he wants to get this team back to credibility this season so badly it hurts. He’s very motivated to do so, which means he’ll be very motivated to make a strong debut, even if that debut isn’t until December.

    http://www.hoopsworld.com/nba-saturd...ntil-december/
    With Washington one of those lottery teams making big improvements and possibly challenging for a playoff spot, missing Wall 12 games and then watching him return from injury and get in to game form could be upwards of 25 games - nearly a third of the season.

    An unfortunate blow for Washington might be a bit of luck for Toronto. WSH hardly has depth at PG.

  20. #20
    Raptors Republic Superstar Puffer's Avatar
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    "...he’ll be very motivated to make a strong debut, even if that debut isn’t until December."

    Here's hoping he doesn't rush his return to the floor and sustain a more significant injury. Something young players are wont to do.

    It might be good for TO is he did, but that is not the way you want to sneak into the play-offs.

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