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Toronto Raptors ’09-10 NBA season preview

By 10.12.09
Say hi to the new guy

Say hi to the new guy


Last year we debuted the “Highs and Lows” system — previewing the NBA season by predicting the respective ceiling and basement for each team. Same theme, different season…

Added: Hedo Turkoglu, DeMar DeRozan, Jarrett Jack, Amir Johnson, Antoine Wright, Reggie Evans, Marco Belinelli, Rasho Nesterovic, Sonny Weems

Lost: Shawn Marion, Anthony Parker, Jason Kapono, Joey Graham, Roko Ukic, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Kris Humphries, Jake Voskuhl, Nathan Jawai, Hassan Adams

Ceiling: 5th seed in the East
In terms of cultivating an immediate turnaround and taking out trash for potential treasure, no team in the NBA had a better offseason than the Raptors. They got rid of almost an entire roster’s worth of players from last year’s crash-and-burn — headlined by starters Marion and Parker — then brought in a cast of young building blocks, tough veterans, and one All-Star candidate whose acquisition could have huge long-term benefits for the franchise. It starts with Turkoglu; if he can help get the Raptors back to the playoffs, that does a lot in convincing Chris Bosh to re-sign next summer. Turkoglu should step right in as the primary perimeter scoring option and crunch-time playmaker, while Bosh still holds it down closer to the basket. Having added muscle in the offseason and putting some more distance between himself and the personal problems that were an obvious distraction last season, Bosh goes into this campaign in great shape (although he’s been slowed in training camp by a hamstring injury) and with a lot to prove. Andrea Bargnani has been a popular pick to have a breakout season where he could average close to 20 points per game, and Jose Calderon should be over the injuries that bugged him last year. There’s depth behind Calderon now with free-agent pickup Jarrett Jack; rookie DeRozan provides a kind of explosiveness on the wing that this team has lacked since Vince Carter left; and Reggie Evans’ grit plus Amir Johnson’s athleticism bolster a frontline that has been routinely outmuscled and outrun in years past.

Basement: Competitive Lottery team
Then again, expectations were high for the Raptors last year before their colossal flop. Bosh still hasn’t proven himself as an elite go-to guy, and Calderon’s stock is down from a year ago when he was considered an up-and-coming star point guard. Turkoglu could be the answer, or he could just be a product of the Orlando system who doesn’t perform with a bigger load on his shoulders in Toronto. DeRozan and Johnson will make highlight reels, but also have noticeable holes in their respective games. The wing positions still aren’t ideal: There isn’t a true small forward on the roster behind Turkoglu, and if DeRozan doesn’t make an impact immediately, two-guard is stocked with career role players like Antoine Wright, Belinelli and Quincy Douby. Center isn’t looking so strong, either, with glacier-paced Rasho Nesterovic and bust-in-training Pat O’Bryant backing up Bargnani. Coach Jay Triano didn’t do much last year to prove he should’ve gone past the “interim” label. And with pressure to perform not just for the sake of making the playoffs but for the sake of keeping Bosh long-term, the Raptors historically haven’t done a whole lot to prove they won’t fold come showtime.

*** *** ***

10/9 — Houston Rockets
10/8 — Detroit Pistons
10/7 — Memphis Grizzlies
10/6 — New York Knicks
10/5 — New Orleans Hornets
10/2 — Atlanta Hawks
9/30 — Sacramento Kings
9/29 — New Jersey Nets
9/28 — Denver Nuggets

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TAGSAMIR JOHNSONANDREA BARGNANIAnthony ParkerAntoine WrightCHRIS BOSHDEMAR DEROZANDimeMagHEDO TURKOGLUJARRETT JACKJay TrianoJOSE CALDERONMarco BelinelliPatrick O'BryantREGGIE EVANSSHAWN MARIONVINCE CARTER

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