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...Fall of the Raptors

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  • ...Fall of the Raptors

    What has gone wrong with the Raptors? Where to begin?
    Of much greater concern, however, is how little the team gets from anyone not named Chris Bosh. The big trouble started for the team when CB4 went down with an injury. Bosh is currently averaging 24 ppg and 11 rpg, and when he missed a few games, the Raptors' offense stagnated and was unable to really do anything. Everything about Toronto's offense is set up by Bosh attracting attention, drawing fouls on his drives and generally taking over. There is no compelling isolation talent on the team after Bosh unless you want to call Sonny Weems or Jarrett Jack especially intriguing in that regard. While I respect their contributions to the team and believe both to be solid acquisitions, I don't find either to resemble a particularly strong candidate for second-option scorer.

    Meantime, Andrea Bargnani floundered badly as the primary option. There are concerns that the team does not use him in a manner that would make him more capable of performing, but whether you call it the player underperforming or the coach making a mistake, the end result was the same: the Raptors struggled badly until Bosh returned.

    Since his return, Bosh has not been playing especially well by the standards of his performance earlier this season; his rebounding has dropped in March to 8.8 per game, after averaging 10.2 or more in each previous month and 11.4 or better in all but one of those other months. After scoring over 29 points per contest in 5 games during February and while averaging 24 per game on the season, Bosh is averaging 21.3 points per game in March, shooting below 53% FG on a month for the first time since the two games he played in October. More tellingly, despite posting one of the best turnover rates of his career on the season, Bosh is averaging four turnovers per game over the last seven games, roughly double his seasonal average. He's been rusty and slow, looking awkward with his knee brace and not nearly as explosive as he has for the bulk of the season.

    The key observation here is that as Bosh goes, so go the Raptors. There isn't sufficient talent on this team to really survive without him because there isn't a great deal of go-to scoring talent outside of Bosh himself. The Raptors are atrocious defensively with or without Bosh (moreso without), and their offense is considerably worse without him because he's really the only player on the team who can handle taking a high volume of possessions and be expected to convert them into points at an efficient rate. Bargnani is either incapable of this task or not yet prepared to do it, which is functionally the same to the team, and there are no other significant scorers. Hedo Turkoglu has been a spectacular flop, arguably one of Colangelo's worst moves in his time as the Raptors' general manager. A $10 million investment, he's playing not dissimilarly to the way he did in Orlando, though he's taking fewer shots per game. Ultimately, he's an over-30 player without significant athleticism, a weak individual defender who is a mediocre rebounder and not an aggressive scorer. Without Dwight Howard backing him up, he looks fairly plain and uninviting as a player. He, like Calderon and Bargnani, contribute negatively to the team's rebounding efforts from the starting lineup and presents yet another defensive hole in the team.

    The question that must be asked is how long Colangelo will tolerate this state of affairs? Raptors fans grow weary of watching one of the worst defenses in the history of the sport and a team that seems to give forth lackluster effort on a consistent basis. The Raptors are fighting for a chance to lose their first round pick, since their selection in this year's draft is owed to another team unless the Raptors miss the playoffs. After serving up their 2008 pick in a trade, the Raptors are thin on young talent and the loss of that pick would make any efforts at rebuilding this franchise much more difficult. Beyond the fact that the Raptors are going to miss out on the free agent markets of both 2010 and 2011 because of committed contracts to Bargnani (his extension kicks in next year), Calderon and Hedo Turkoglu, there remains the looming specter of Chris Bosh's likely departure in free agency.

    Answers are few and far between for Raptors fans, but the picture painted of their franchise's future is not for the faint of heart.

    Real GM with another good article on the Raptors. I love how these guys give the team a fair quantity of coverage, good or bad. Many places, like Fox sports for example, only write about them when times are bad and then get real quiet when they're doing well. Anyway, what do you think of their opinion of the team at this point? I feel I agree with a lot of it. Right now the teams future outlook stinks.

  • #2
    Good article, hit the nail on the head... sad state of affairs...