Team: Toronto Raptors
Last Year’s Record: 33-49 (4th, Atlantic Division)
Head Coach: Jay Triano
Comings: DeMar DeRozan, Hedo Turkoglu, Antoine Wright, Amir Johnson, Sonny Weems, Reggie Evans, Jaerrtt Jack and Radho Nesterovic.
Goings: Anthony Parker, Jason Kopano and Roko Ukic.
Bloggers Talk: Scott Phillips of Raptors Republic:
“What are my expectations of the Raptors this season? Balls out. Chris Bosh is the face of this franchise, is a top 12 player in the league, and is entering a decision-making year. GM Colangelo has gone out and spent millions to put pieces around Bosh but at the same time has protected us from the evil of CB4 leaving this team. Rebounding will continue to hurt us, as will perimeter defense and we will have to continue to outscore opponents rather than stop them.”
Raptors Republic on the Nets:
“I truly like the Nets, especially without Raptor-Killer Carter. I think TWill will surprise some people and CDR will have a solid season if he keeps his mind in the game. Having Rafer worries me as he was a loose cannon in Toronto and could hurt the locker room. You guys will defend the hell out of every team you face but struggle to score against most teams. I think the Nets finish 12th in the conference.”
Comparing the Starters:
Starting PG – Jose Calderon (12.8 ppg, 8.9 apg, 18.8 PER) vs. Devin Harris (21.3 ppg, 6.9 apg, 21.65 PER): One of the better point guards in the league, Calderon was second only to New Orleans’ Chris Paul in the John Hollinger metric pure point rating. Calderon also had one of the highest assist ratios in the league – which measures the percentage of a player’s possessions that ends in an assist. He’s a very accurate jump shooter, shooting over 40 percent from three-point land and more than 45 percent on long twos. He takes shots inside the paint 19 percent of the time, but had an effective field goal percentage of .764. He had an amazing year from the free throw line, shooting 98 percent last year. A hamstring injury limited his defense last year.
Advantage: Even. By importing Hedo Turkoglu, the Raptors have gien Calderon another target in the passing game and it may also allow him to spot up for more three-pointers, increasing his scoring average. Devin is the better scorer, but Calderon is the better passer and pure point guard. Thus, let’s call it a drawn.
Starting SG – Marco Belinelli (8.9 ppg, 2.1 apg, 11.86 PER)) vs. Courtney Lee (8.4 ppg, 1.2 apg, 10.78 PER): Coming over from Golden State, Belinelli has one thing going for him – he’s a good three-point shooter (.397 percent last year), which fits in well with the Raptors offense. However, his game suffers at almost every other level. He has a poor turnover rate and rebounding rate for a shooting guard and seems to lack athleticism. He has a decent steal rate, and he held opposing SGs to 15.0 PER last year, which is average, but as John Hollinger nots, “he can’t challenge shots and was middling at best in terms of stopping penetration.”
Advantage: Nets. While Hollinger may not be totally sold on Lee, I think he’s at least better than Belinelli who’s as one-dimensional as it gets. Lee is a bonafide defensive stopper, a decent shooter who’s more apt to take it inside.
Starting SF – Hedo Turkoglu (16.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 14.82) vs. Jarvis Hayes (8.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 10.85 PER): Turkoglu got a big payoff in the off-season, but he saw a sharp drop-off in his production from 2007-08, probably his career season, and last year. His PER was below league average, his shooting dropped more than 40 points along with his rebounding and assist average per 40 minutes. Still, Turkoglu comes with a unique skillset for a forward. He’s a good ballhandler and a decent spot-up shooter. On the defensive end, opposing small forwards were held to a .480 effective field goal percentage.
Advantage: Raptors. Turkoglu may have been overpaid by Toronto, but he’s still one of the more unique talents in the NBA. His five-year deal will probably be a nightmare for the Raptors when he hits his mid-30s, but for the 2009-10 he’ll bring more to his team than Jarvis Hayes will likely bring to the Nets.
Starting PF – Chris Bosh (22.7 ppg, 10 rpg, 22.19 PER) vs. Yi Jianlian (8.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 10.98 PER): Bosh is another elite power forward in the NBA, He has speed, agility, can shoot well for a big man, rebounds and blocks shots. There are some red flags forever. After a strong November, Bosh had a three-month span where he averaged below 20 points and 9 rebounds, and many analysts were questioning his intensity. His PER and True Shooting percentage were the lowest they’ve been since 2004-05. Another thing to consider this season is Bosh can opt out of his contract. If the Raptors fall out of contention early, he could be traded to a team that has a lot of cap space at the end of the season to resign him. You know. A team such as the Nets.
Advantage: Raptors. Bosh is an elite power forward and Yi is not.
Starting C –Andrea Bargnani (15.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 14.66) vs. Brook Lopez (13.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 17.94 PER): Bargnani put together his first solid season last year, though his PER was still below average. He was a slow starter, playing his way out of the starting lineup for a while, before turning it on in the second half of the season to achieve career highs in points, three-point percentage, field goal percentage, rebounds and blocks. Bargnani likes to shoot a lot for a big man. He attempted 291 three last year, good for a .409 percentage. Bargnani’s biggest weakness stems from his lanky frame. His rebound rate, the percentage of missed shots a player rebounds, was dead last for centers. Opposing centers put up a PER of 21.1 when Bargnani was on the court.
Advantage: Nets. Bargnani is a great shooter for a player his size, but he’s nowhere near as physical as Lopez which is a necessity in the league. And despite putting together his best season in three years, Bargnani’s PER was under league average while Lopez had a PER near 18 right out of the gate of his career.
Bench: Jarrett Jack put together a solid campaign in Indiana last season and is a good back-up to Calderon. Rookie DeMar DeRozan could find his way into the starting lineup at some point this season. Old friend Antoine Wright is a good defender but a lousy shooter for a wing. Amir Johnson played himself out of the starting lineup in Detroit, but Hollinger thinks he could rebound in Toronto as a backup, projecting his PER to be around 16 because of his rebound and block rates. Rasho Nerterovic is a decent shooter and averaged more than 15 points per 40 minutes.
Advantage: Even. The Nets appear to have an answer at nearly every backup position and may even have a little more depth at the point. Nesterovic is better than any of the bigs on the Nets bench, but with guys like DeRozan and Johnson, a lot of their success is based on projection and potential.