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NBA Preview: Toronto Raptors


Record:  47-35, 1st in Atlantic Division, 4th in Eastern Conference

Statistical Comparisons:


2nd  in turnovers


11th in the league in scoring (99.5 ppg)
16th in opponent scoring (98.5 ppg)
10th  in ppg differential (+1.0 ppg)
11th in field goal %  
21st in opponent field goal %
9th in three-point %  
10th in assists
19th in steals
25th in blocks
16th in opponent turnovers
Very Poor offensive rebounding team
Average defensive rebounding team

Significant Additions:  
Carlos Delfino, Jason Kapono

Significant Subtractions:
Morris Peterson

Key Players

PG:  T.J. Ford, Jose Calderon
SG:   Anthony Parker, Carlos Delfino
SF:  Jason Kapono, Joey Graham
PF:  Chris Bosh, Jorge Garbajosa
C:  Andrea Bargnani, Rasho Nesterovic

Comments:  Toronto made a significant leap last year, transforming a 27 win season in 2005-06 to 47 and a clear division title in 2006-07.  They rode the broad shoulders of Chris Bosh who has become a clear-cut star and a force to be reckoned with even though he gets little publicity because of his team's north-of-the-border status.  The guy is 6'10" nets over 20 and 10, hits a high percentage from the field, rebounds like a monster, and can even shoot it deep.  Like many other Eastern teams Toronto has been unable to acquire perfect-fitting frontcourt mates for him so they make do with playing a lot of forwards.  Last year's #1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani is a smooth scorer already and the Raptors are very high on him.  Offensively he could be one of the next great European players.  Jorge Garbajosa is a bundle of energy with smarts and some offensive skills as well.  The Raptors have also acquired sweet-shooting small forward Jason Kapono from Miami to replace the mercurial Morris Peterson.  Together that should be a pretty nasty offensive frontcourt.  T.J. Ford is a lightning bug at the point, also offensively gifted.  Anthony Parker is a well-rounded sidekick in the backcourt.  This team is designed to run, score, pass, and look really pretty and they'll probably be able to pull it off most nights.

Even with all that developing offensive firepower, however, there are some things not to like.  The most glaring issue is toughness.  Bosh is amazing but after him there's not an intimidating guy on that list.  Many teams are like a Bavarian cream doughnut--crusty on the outside but gooey if you poke in too far.  Toronto is more like a big pile of sweet cream sitting on a plate.  This league deals harshly with teams who bring too much finesse.  Also they're already experiencing a ton of health problems to their top players.  You wonder how much the grind of the regular season will expose their bench.  They need more rebounding.  Even though they're a good team I don't see a ton of things they do very well outside of taking excellent care of the basketball (no mean feat for a team that wants to run).  I guess I want to see a little more of their up-tempo, motion, passing, European-style offense before I'm ready to believe in their chances to advance beyond "good" and into "great" territory.  I believe it will serve them well, I just don't believe it alone will carry them where they want to go.

The Raptors bring back a team essentially unchanged from last year.  Their party line is going to be, "Our young guys are naturally going to be better so we're going to be better overall."  As we've said time and again here, young guys don't automatically get better and even when they do that doesn't mean that they'll fit in automatically.  You have to believe that Boston is a serious threat to leapfrog Toronto in the division.  A healthy, experienced Nets team will also give them a run for their money.  The Raptors really need to move into 50-win territory to make a statement.  I'm just not sure they're set up to do it yet.

--Dave (