- Toronto Raptors – Brian Boake (Raptors Rapture)
The Toronto Raptors have tried to improve themselves on the floor by starting with the boardroom. The disappointing Bryan Colangelo years are over, as Masai Ujiri has returned to Canada from the Denver Nuggets (where he was named NBA Executive of the Year) to become the Raps’ General Manager. One vestige of the Colangelo years, the underachieving (to put it mildly) Andrea Bargnani was shipped out to the New York Knicks for draft picks and roster ballast. Marcus Camby has already been bought out, and Quentin Richardson will likely strike a go-away deal also. A player who is expected to stick around is Steve Novak. He can provide help from the “stretch-4″ spot, as can Austin Daye, who just jumped on board.
The Raps have added Dwight Bucyks (who?) and D.J. Augustin (why?) to backstop Kyle Lowry at the point guard position. If Lowry, who is unsigned after this season, is ever to demonstrate his capability of running a team, now would be an excellent time. He’ll be dishing to the talented, but expensive, Rudy Gay at small forward, and the re-upped DeMar DeRozan at shooting guard. Terrence Ross, last year’s slam dunk champion, backs up DeRozan, who reportedly has been working on his biggest weakness, 3-point shooting, in the off-season. Amir Johnson will continue to provide the dirty work under the boards at power forward. He’s a lot better than you think. The crown jewel of this year’s Raps is expected to be centre (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) Jonas Valanciunas. JV, a youthful, gifted Lithuanian, was named MVP of the Las Vegas summer league.
We’re hoping for a healthful season this time around. If we get one, the Raps will be in the playoff hunt.