NBA / Sep 26, 2008 / 5:18 pm

Highs and Lows: Toronto Raptors

Chris BoshChris Bosh (photo. Chris Gordaneer)

NBA training camps are starting soon. In preparation, we’re going team-by-team, from 1 to 30, exploring what each team’s ceiling is for the upcoming season and where their basement is. In other words, what are the realistic best-case and worst-case scenarios for each squad?

Additions: C Jermaine O’Neal, PG Roko Ukic, PG Will Solomon, SG Hassan Adams, C Nathan Jawai.

Losses: PG T.J. Ford, SF Carlos Delfino, C Rasho Nesterovic, SF Jorge Garbajosa, PF Maceo Baston, C Primoz Brezec.

Ceiling: Conference semifinals
After two years of first-round knockouts, the Raptors made a pair of major offseason moves in hopes of making an upward move in an improving Eastern Conference. The first was re-signing free agent Jose Calderon, who led the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio in ’07-08 and had a borderline All-Star year (11.2 ppg, 8.3 apg). The second move, directly impacted by the Calderon deal, was trading T.J. Ford as part of a package to Indiana for Jermaine O’Neal. If he’s healthy (a familiar tale), J.O. is one of the top big men in the East and a rebounding/shot-blocking presence on a team whose most glaring problems are a lack of toughness and lack of interior play beyond superstar Chris Bosh. O’Neal would also allow 22-year-old Andrea Bargnani — who was totally out of place trying to play center last year — to move somewhere in which coach Sam Mitchell can take advantage of his strengths. But even if O’Neal doesn’t live up to the expectations, the Raptors still have two of the most coveted personnel pieces for any team: a legit go-to superstar (who’s a big man to boot) and a great point guard. Those two alone should be enough to at least keep them relevant.

Basement: 8th seed in the East
Although Toronto placed second in the Atlantic Division last season, they did while finishing an even .500, and an ugly late-season freefall put a whole 25 games between them and the first-place Celtics. A lot of Toronto’s hopes are riding on J.O.’s infamously cranky knees. If he turns up lame, Toronto is back to looking for stop-gaps in the middle and again throwing too much on Bosh’s shoulders. Kris Humphries had his moments last year, but he’s basically a smaller, poor man’s Brook Lopez and not someone you want playing a major role on a contending team. After Bosh, J.O. and Humphries, the only big man on the roster is Australian import Nathan Jawai, who was a beast in the NBL and looked good in Toronto’s summer league games, but is still young and inexperienced. There also isn’t much depth behind Calderon; neither of his backups, Roko Ukic or Euroleague transfer Will Solomon, have a minute of NBA experience. (Correction: Solomon saw action in 62 games with Vancouver six years ago — AB.) Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono are all decent role players who know their place, but neither is the standout wing player the Raptors have needed ever since Mr. You-Know-Who was in town.

’08-09 NBA preview archives
9/25 — New Orleans Hornets
9/24 — Atlanta Hawks
9/23 — Sacramento Kings
9/22 — Miami Heat
9/19 — Portland Trail Blazers
9/18 — New Jersey Nets
9/17 — Minnesota Timberwolves
9/16 — Cleveland Cavaliers
9/15 — Phoenix Suns
9/12 — Milwaukee Bucks
9/11 — L.A. Clippers
9/10 — Orlando Magic

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  • Derek Zoolander

    Chris! You stole my look!

  • Big Sia

    Fuck the raptors.

    Nets ’09 bitches

  • mr. a

    J-Will retired!

  • nunya

    Bosh isn’t a superstar….Bosh plays well behind real superstars..he can’t carry a team. The Raptors need a star wing player.

  • nunya

    Soloman DOES “have a minute of NBA experience”. How about you do a little research….

  • George W Kush Sr

    My problem is how they lost Carlos Delfino and Jorge Garbajosa and replaced them with nobody.

    Jorge wasnt there last year because of injury but I was under the impression he was coming back after he healed, guess not. Delfino played great last year, he will be missed in the rotation because they have no superior wing player.

    I would have thought they’d make a push for Maggette this summer but no dice. I like Moon and Kapono as backups, and Parker would be a great reserve 2 guard, but none of them are the wing player they badly need.

    They should make a move for Stephen Jackson, he’s got the grit and scoring ability, he can lead and he’s a 2-way player.

  • kobeef

    Bosh is a notch below the best players in the league which is why the raps are a notch below the best teams in the league.

    They will regret picking Bargs over Aldridge and trading Charlie V for a long time.

  • deeds

    I would have given their ceiling as east finals. If Jermo can just get to playoffs healthy, Bargnani takes a big step forward (I think he will), and Bosh and Calderon keep doing what they have been doing….they could get to east finals depending on matchups.

  • Celts Fan

    I’ll chuckle and say again, Joey Graham over Danny Granger will haunt them for a long time (and Bargs – who I actually like and think will eventually pan out – over BRoy stings a bit too.)

  • solomon

    bargs is still young… he ain’t as much a joke as that skita dude… on some days, he can rebound, block shots, shoot threes, on some days, he has 6 fouls…

    let him grow up a bit…

  • Milk Lady

    He is a cool man. we all love him. there are so many fans of him. and they set up the groups related to stars. you can even check out his sexy and beautiful photos, videos and blogs on the tall dating club __tallloving.com__for hot singles to hook up for Tall Love and Sexy Dating.

  • to

    dont hate on raps cause u know vince and his pussy ass team aint going now were

  • Brown

    @ Celts

    I’ve been saying that for years man. You switch those two picks and you have a contender. The Raps last two GMs suck balls when it comes to the draft. Colangelo better do something at next year’s draft or his grace period in T.O. will be over.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Austin Burton

    Araujo over Bynum hurts too…

  • me

    What are you all complaining about, This is the best team we’ve had since the year we made it to the second round. We finally have a legite centre with O’neal. and he’s not really a health risk, he had injuries for two years. So did Vince, and he’s been pretty healthy since we traded him.
    Bosh is finally going to have help on D. Imagine anyone trying to drive to the basket late in the game with those 2 beasts back there and Moon coming from behind. Crazy.
    Finally we have what we’ve been complaining about since 1994: a real Centre!!! not a crippled Hakeem, not undersized A.Davis, and not a overweight Oliver Miller.

    Way to go BC, job well done. Two of the top big man in the league, and a great point gaurd to feed them. Add AP, Kapono, and Bargs dropping wide open three’s. I think the finals are the ceiling for this team.

  • D-NICE

    I agree that we still need a standout wing player but I ain’t mad with having two all star big men with a great point guard and great shooters to kick it out to….and tha new raptors jerseys are DOPE!!!!!!!!