Toronto Raptors Campaign XVI Preview

20 mins read

‘Tis the season for basketball. Less than a week left before Season XVI and RR is ready to (with your help) roll out what can best be classified as a “season preview”, but let’s get serious, it’s a bunch of guys huddled around a keyboard drinking C-Plus.

Which Raptors player will offer the best “bang for their buck”? (asked by Bandido)

Arse: Mathematically, it’s hard to go against Sonny Weems who stands to make $850,000. As we’ve seen in preseason, he’s going to get playing time and he’s going to hoist his shots. He should increase his scoring to somewhere between 12-16 points per game if all goes well. Linas Kleiza is the other man who is lining up to have a big year, he’s going to get more freedom on offense than he’s ever had and he doesn’t appear to be gun-shy. The “good player on bad team” situation could see him put up points in the high teens, and if you compare that with what teams usually get out of the mid-level exception, that’s a fair deal. If he makes the team, Joey Dorsey will lead the team in PER48 rebounding so if that gets you going, root for Dorsey.

Dinosty: Joey Dorsey’s ($854,000) got an outside shot but because he isn’t a lock to have enough impact to warrant this distinction. I think it’s a toss-up between Weems ($855,000) and Jarret Jack ($4.8 Mil), our starting PG and (potential) locker-room leader. Sonny’s gotta poop the futon something stinky for him not to be worthy of his sub-million dollar paycheque. (known as the Anti-Calderon. He’s got to cure cancer, reverse the aging process, and solve the Middle East to merit his $9 milly.)

Sam: If you look at salary to production, it’s going to be Weems. 2009 – 2010 Stats 7.5pts 2.8rebs 1.5ast 51.5% FG 68.8% FT for $850k. It’s the same situation when Jamario Moon was here (who was actually a bigger bang for the buck). For me, the best value on this team is Linas Kleiza, who is going to replace Turkoglu’s production at the three at half the cost.

Who’s our best chance for an All-Star appearance (asked by skywalker)

Arse: Have to go with Joey Dorsey here…just kidding, I have to pick David Andersen…got you again. Seriously though, it’s between Linas Kleiza and Andrea Bargnani. I’d pick Jack but there are too many point guards who are outright better than him, and that’s the position he’s going to be evaluated at. Andrea Bargnani has to be better than two of Andrew Bogut, Elton Brand, Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah and Brook Lopez to have an outside shot at this, or he has to be better than three of them to have a real chance. After LeBron James, the race for the next best scoring small forward is pretty wide open, so I’ll say Linas Kleiza.

Dinosty: Does our mascot count? Cause that backflippin’ fuzzball’s definitely got a shot at 1st Team All-Mascot. As for players, I think there’s a better chance of Canada skipping winter than of any Raptor earning a spot in the big game. I can definitely see Barbosa or Kleiza repping us in the 3pt shootout. And even if Bargnani has a great season, he’s got Amare/Horford/Lopez/Howard/Shaq (just kidding) to beat out for a C spot. Not. Gonna. Happen.

Sam: DeMar DeRozan, and possibly Ed Davis, at the rookie/sophomore game are the safest bet. If Kleiza and Barbosa shoot lights out, they could sneak into the three point competition. If you meant at the actual all-star game, playing with LeBron, Dwight and Paul Pierce….that’s a big fat donut, nobody, niente…

Will booing Chris Bosh hurt or heal us? (asked by Mo)

Arse: Does Chris Bosh deserve to get booed for his play? No. Does he deserve to get booed for the way he handled his exit and played towards the tail end of his tenure here? Yes. But that shouldn’t overshadow the cold hard fact that the reason the Raptors failed under Bosh wasn’t because Bosh was a bad player, it was because management insisted he was a great one. Raptors fans shouldn’t boo or cheer Chris Bosh, they should give him the same reception as they would give Rodney Carney – indifference.

Dinosty: Definitely hurt us. I don’t get why any semi-sane fan past the point of puberty (spotty facial hair + teenage angst = crazy pills) would boo the best player ever to don a Raptors jersey? Listen, I’m not a huge Bosh fan by any means – I think there’s great comedy coming up as he follows around The King and Wade like a little brother begging to be included – but if you had a chance to take your talents to South Beach and make a fortune working with two of your good friends, wouldn’t you?

Before you boo, consider: WDBDTY (What Did Bosh Do To You?) Unlike Lebron, he isn’t our homebred, Toronto-raised native son. Unlike Boozer, he never promised he was staying. The man finished his job here and was free to go where he wanted. (How much gusto he gave down the stretch is up for debate, but be honest, who hasn’t checked out a week before your vacation?)
Plus, it just reinforces the stigma of Raptors fans being a petty fan base. Half the time we make EPSN or NBA news is because we’re booing Vince or T-Mac or Hedo or Mourning or whoever.

Remember, WDBDTY.

Sam: Both; the fact of the matter is he will deserve all the boos and cheers he will get because he meant different things to different people in the city. One things for sure, he wont be booed to the same degree as McGrady, Carter and Turkoglu have/will be.

Which Raptor(s) will be gone by the trade deadline (asked by Mediumcore)

Arse: Based on his play so far and given the Raptors’ efforts to trade him in the off-season, it’s hard to not pick Jose Calderon. His value is fairly low right now but at the deadline things could change as teams become a little more desperate. At the same time, with one eye on the lockout, teams could hesitate to pick up contract. From the Raptors perspective, they have two point guards that don’t complement each other very well and don’t bring a “change of pace” factor that is often vital in these partnerships. At some point the Raptors will have to acquire a point guard that jives with the rest of the youth movement, and right now neither Jack nor Calderon cut it.

Dinosty: I still think Jose can find his old aggressiveness… just don’t see it happening here. Still a valuable 25min backup at the very least, he should be good bait for a team stockpiling for a long playoff run. The more important question is: what would we get back?

Sam: Even though he looks to be the starting power forward, I have to say Reggie Evans. You have to figure they want to work Amir into a 30min a night guy, and with Dorsey, Davis,

Is Bryan Colangelo is the right man for the rebuilding process? (asked by Biff)

Arse: No. He’s had his chance to produce in Toronto and has delivered a single season of watchable basketball. I trust his drafting; I just don’t trust his team-building. The mix of youth and veterans he assembles doesn’t appear to work well and he doesn’t sufficiently address intangible factors such as leadership, mental toughness, balance on the coaching staff (e.g., motivation, strategy, authority) and goes for the home-run too often. Having a European contingent in the front-office hasn’t yielded the Raptors anything since 2006-07 and one has to question whether people like Maurizio Gheradini are dead weight. If it’s a rebuilding process, let’s rebuild from the bottom to the top. But this time, let’s start with the top. Oh BTW, that argument that “what other GM would be crazy enough to come to Toronto and we’re so lucky that Colangelo has stuck around” carries no weight, there are only 30 such jobs in the world.

Dinosty: Two years ago, I would have said yes. But save for a few notable standouts, GM’s have a fairly short shelf-life, regardless of their impact. I think the MLSE’s mentality is that it’s safer to say “Bryan’s taken us as far as he can, we need a new leader for the future”, rather than bet their famously venomous fan base isn’t already too sour to stand by BC and support him through the process, regardless of the outcome.

Sam: Colangelo has made some good decisions, and some bad ones; that’s the cost of doing business – sadly. His mistakes have been rough, and really mortgaged the future of this team (we could be lining Roy Hibbert with Andrea Bargnani in the front court, with Amir Johnson coming off the bench as we speak, but alas). If we had a different GM, how much better would this team be? Who knows right? The real question is who is available to lead the rebuilding process, and unless you’re bringing in a guy who’s an RC Buford, Joe Dumars, Pat Riley, Sam Presti, Daryl Morey or lure Jerry West out of retirement, you’re basically rolling the dice. Never thought I’d say it but unless we get a rockstar GM, Colangelo is the man for the job.

Who’s the “most talented” Dance Pak member? (asked by Jackie Moon)

Arse: I’m still not over Talisa. Think English Patient.

Dinosty: The dancer that makes my solo crowd give a standing ovation is Jenie, the cute blonde from Cambridge, Ontario.

Sam: The one who can do the reverse downward dog.

Which Raptor will emerge as our team leader this season?

Arse: Nobody, at least not in the true sense of the word. Jarrett Jack brings grit, Linas Kleiza brings a swagger, Amir Johnson brings effort, Andrea Bargnani brings talent, but there’s isn’t a player on the roster that has a mixture of all of the above which is required of a true “leader”. The term needs to be redefined when talking about the Raptors, the best that I can make it mean is that it should refer to someone that makes sure that the effort doesn’t slip, whether it be by verbal motivation or leading by example. If that is the criteria then I’d go with Linas Kleiza, he hasn’t been part of a truly crappy professional team in his career and I can’t imagine he’d stand idly by if things go south.

Dinosty: Jarrett Jack. Unless Bargnani does an about-face and develops, who’s his competition?

Sam: It comes down to who can be a leader on this team, and the only candidates are Jarrett Jack (who emerged as a leader last season) and Linas Kleiza (who led the Lithuanian team in FIBA this summer). Neither are good enough to be THE MAN, but I see both of them contributing what they can to help this team compete on a day-to-day basis.

Which Raptor is most likely to…

… get arrested:
Arse: Solomon Alabi. For not paying his condo maintenance fees.

Dinosty: PJ Carlesimo. If we were playing Clue, I’d call a DUI on the Gardiner with a mickey of Jim Beam.

Sam: Reggie Evans.

… sneak you into the VIP section at the club:

Arse: DeMar DeRozan, but he’ll probably get blocked.

Dinosty: Reggie Evans. I don’t care how rich he is – the ugliest guy at the club could benefit from girls seeing him surrounded by doting fans.

… have cellphone photos of their junk circulated on the web:

Arse: Joey Dorsey, coming out of a club getting into a limo.

Dinosty: Amir Johnson. Just doesn’t seem like he makes good decisions. Have you seen those neck tattoos? I’ll bet my lunch money on this.

Sam: Jarrett Jack.

… get the first triple-double:

Arse: Andrea Bargnani. 21 points, 10 rebounds, 10 turnovers.

Dinosty: Leandro Barbosa. He’s active, rebounds well for a guard, and will have the ball in his hands a ton.

Sam: Linas Kleiza.

… lead the team in 3s:

Arse: Taken: Andrea Bargnani. Made: Linas Kleiza. Percentage: Sonny Weems.

Dinosty: Linas Kleiza. I’m not sure if we’re talking made or attempted, but I think he’s a safe bet either way.

Sam: Leandro Barbosa.

… have the first public blowout with Triano:

Arse: Julian Wright. Contract year guys want to play and they don’t like it when they don’t.

Dinosty: Amir Johnson. If the fouls continue, Jay will have to give those minutes to our other bigs. If this happens, it’s only a matter of time before Amir “34 Million Reasons to smile” Johnson opens his mouth to the media.

Sam: Julian Wright.

… score the most points in one game:

Arse: Andrea Bargnani. There will be a day where all his threes go in, so there.

Dinosty: Leandro Barbosa. I could see a 40+ game from him this season. He’ll have the green light, and on one of those nights where he starts 3/3 from downtown in the first and the defense starts playing his shot… beware Video Game Mode Barbosa.

Sam: Linas Kleiza.

… surprise us all:

Arse: Ed Davis’ defense will be spoken about at office-coolers everywhere and parents will regale their children with stories about Glock .32. Yeah, that’s his nickname.

Dinosty: David Andersen. Gonna get some valuable minutes from this guy, and I can’t promise Ed Davis won’t tear an ACL during a Saturday afternoon Hoopdome run.

Sam: Joey Dorsey.

… make us cry:

Arse: Jay Triano, as he lets the team “ride out” a 0-14 run.

Dinosty: Andrea Bargnani. Honourable mention, Jose Calderon.

Sam: David Andersen.

… be seen at Real Sports Bar:

Arse: In a desperate effort to find a TV showing Australian rules rugby, David Andersen will wander into Real Sports and be told that the only screen showing the Penrith Panthers vs South Sydney Rabbitohs match is the one in the ladies washroom. Despair and an arrest will ensue.

Dinosty: Joey Dorsey. What better way to win the loyalty of the fan base than to be seen as a player-amongst-the-people (other than actually, you know, playing well)?

Sam: Amir Johnson.

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