With a month left in yet another lottery-bound season for our Raptors, let’s evaluate where we are and where we’re headed:
- Demar Derozan has shown no signs of being an all-star level guard. The optimists may see another level in him, but the realists see a second or third option at best. He has had a pretty rough third year, and maybe another year under Dwane Caseys defence oriented system will help him turn it around.
- There are an abundance of PFs and we can’t move forward with all of them on the roster. So who does BC get rid of? Clearly Bargnani isn’t going anywhere, so it’s between Amir and Ed Davis. We could amnesty Amir and keep Ed Davis for development, or we could package Ed Davis with another player and potentially get some value in return. In my opinion, you keep Ed Davis because he still has potential to consistently drop double-doubles.
- Dwane Casey is the real deal. The team is clearly playing at a much higher level defensively and generally they’re heading in the right direction. One knock on Caseys system is the offensive execution thus far. Sometimes it seems that he’s not utilizing Derozan effectively, and the offence seems stagnant at times. But based on the progress we’ve seen from the team compared to Triano, I’m willing to give Casey ample time to prove himself as an offensive coach because I haven’t seen a Raptors coach be as effective since Butch Carter.
- Andrea Bargnani is worth keeping. I was a staunch critic of Bargnani for the past 5.5 years as he declined and got coddled by management and the media, but he has clearly proven to be a very capable scorer at the highest level. He helps stretch the floor and makes guys around him better because he takes the defensive pressure away from them. By no means is he a superstar or a franchise level talent, and I find the “All-star” calls a bit over-the-top, but he’s a unique talent and if we’re to believe that the team will improve at all other positions, he’s clearly a guy to keep around.
- This years draft will be perhaps the biggest in franchise history. Regardless of where the team finishes when the lottery balls finalise the draft order, it’s safe to say that we’ll be getting a high lottery pick in one of the deeper drafts of the past decade. Bryan Colangelo will have an abundance of cap-space available on draft night, as well as players like Jose Calderon and Ed Davis available to entice other teams for trade options. Considering Colangelo is going into the second year of his 2 year extension, I’d say its safe to say he will be making some big time moves on draft night. Historically with the Raptors, Colangelo has made a lot of high-risk transactions but since last season he has been a bit more reserved than usual. Is he waiting for the right opportunity to make significant changes to the roster? We’ll have to wait and see, but I can guarantee this draft will be one to define this franchise going forward.
- Is Jonas the real deal? We’re about to find out, and I think the collective Raptor-Nation has high expectations for our franchise big-man of the future. Will he be able to live up to the expectations, and how will he adapt to the faster, stronger NBA game? From what we’ve seen in the FIBA and EuroLeague games, his fundamentals are through the roof and people are comparing him to legendary NBA Centers. If he lives up to expectations, the Raptors will certainly move to a upward trajectory.
- Next season will be another overhaul under Colangelo. How many times has he done this now? It feels like a roster-overhaul is expected every 2 or 3 years under BC because of his terrible decisions. But perhaps this time around we’re actually building something positive? So who will be on the team next season? Who knows! We’ll have to wait and see because there are so many holes in the roster and so many ‘assets’ that can be packaged in trades that the team could look drastically different in October.
Coming into this season, Raptors fans were well aware of this season being a write off. Most of us were expecting to see Derozan and Ed Davis take it to another level, but we didn’t see that happen. However, the surprising effects of Dwane Caseys defence and overall coaching has made a positive impact that certainly helps in most fans feel positive about where this team is going. But in order for this team to take the next step, they’ll need some luck and a solid draft pick as well as Jonas Valanciunus playing up to what’s being expected.