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Stephen Brotherston: Are the Raptors a Playoff Team Next Year?

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  • Stephen Brotherston: Are the Raptors a Playoff Team Next Year?

    Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo was selling his plan for next season since before the current season had even started, but it has been new head coach Dwane Casey who pulled off the miracle that provides some glimmer of hope in Toronto. The Raptors had become easy pickings in the NBA and floundered at the bottom of every defensive category, but in one lockout-shortened season, Casey changed everything.
    The Raptors cut their points against by 11.4 from last season to 94.0 per game, ninth best in the NBA and they did it by slashing last year’s pathetic 48.2 percent opponents’ field goal percentage down to a very respectable 43.5 percent. Toronto’s usually porous three-point defense was a fifth best 32.8 percent.

    These raw measures of defensive proficiency do not account for pace or free throw differential, but in the space of just one season, Coach Casey elevated the Raptors defense from the bottom to an NBA average of 104.5 points surrendered per 100 possessions. Notably, these improvements came with most of the same players as last season including the players previously maligned as defensive sieves, namely Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, and Bargnani.

    Defensive improvement alone is not enough to justify hope for a playoff appearance next season. The Raptors have to find a way to score more points and merely counting on a healthy Bargnani for a full season isn’t going to be enough.

    “Statistically, defensively, we were off the charts as far as what we accomplished,” said Casey. “Offensively, we didn’t get where we wanted to go, but as our players improve, our skill level improves, and the talent level of our base improves, we will get there offensively.

    “This is my seventeenth year in the NBA. I know what we are teaching wins. I do know also that we have to score and next year we will have to change our emphasis a little bit going into training camp.”
    Improving the team’s talent level falls to Colangelo and the general manager has put his team in a position to be very active heading into the draft and free agency.

    “It felt like that if there was going to be a year to make a bigger splash, whether in free agency or utilizing the space to acquire players by trade, I felt that would be better served in a subsequent season and that’s probably this summer,” said Colangelo.

    “Adding talent is the third pillar in this plan and add talent comes in the form of the pick from last year, Jonas Valanciunas, the pick coming in the June draft, and then also by adding players either by trade or free agency.

    “We will be in a unique position with $12 million in cap space before the draft and before July 1 to entertain deals where significant contracts could come into play. You could move a player out with some value and take back a player with significant value even higher than that $12 million. If you package the pick along with a young player, what does that net you? All of those questions will be answered over the course of the next several weeks and months as Ed Stefanski and I entertain those phone calls from the various GMs and us placing phone calls to various GMs. We will have a lot of lines in the water.”
    Casey has noted on many occasions that his roster is too young and he would like to see more young veterans in the 25 to 28-year-old range and maybe there could be one player in their late thirties he would be interested in. Packaging the Raptors draft pick along with a young player could possibly net Toronto that young veteran who could have an immediate impact on this roster and the hints of Toronto’s obvious interest in the former two-time MVP Steve Nash represents another route to upgrade the talent. Plus, there are numerous young restricted and unrestricted free agents available in what should be a very competitive free agent period this summer, but Casey has set his sights on a very specific skill set.

    “I have told Bryan and Ed the skill level and type of players we need,” said Casey.

    “Shooters, that is the one skill. I know you can work with players when you get to this level, but you can’t teach the type of shooting that you like to have with three point shooters, those guys are born. You can work on it to get it a little bit better, but to get where we want to go, you have to have shooters. We need to add shooters to our roster.”

    There are some great three-point shooters available in free agency this season. Three of the top four three-point shooters of the past season are unrestricted free agents, Steve Novak, Ersan Ilyasova, and Ray Allen. Restricted free agents Nicolas Batum and Courtney Lee are also three-point threats and the Raptors own restricted free agent Jerryd Bayless can shoot. It has been suggested Leandro Barbosa might like to return to Toronto. Shooters will be available this off season.
    Casey has created the confidence and the culture necessary for the Toronto Raptors to make a return to the playoffs next season, but the talent level of the team as it is currently constructed may not be enough to get the job done. It is now up to Colangelo to complete his own plan by adding the talent necessary and he is heading towards the draft and free agency in a position to do so.

    “Bryan Colangelo is on the cutting edge,” said Casey. “I have the utmost trust in him as far as getting the personnel and putting this team together next year.”

    If Colangelo can accomplish his own goals, the Raptors will be a playoff team next season.
    http://www.hoopsworld.com/are-the-ra...team-next-year
    22
    Yes
    31.82%
    7
    No
    13.64%
    3
    Ask me again July 15th
    54.55%
    12
    Last edited by mcHAPPY; Wed May 2, 2012, 07:56 PM.

  • #2
    I just want to see the Raps in a playoff game...is that so much to ask?
    For still frame photograph of me reading the DeRozan thread please refer to my avatar

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    • #3
      Hmmm...I hope we aren't all disappointed.

      My vote is for making a decision in November sometime at least. This primarily because the team will still have to hang it's hat on defense. That we would probably have at least 2 new players in the starting lineup (and some on the bench) will be a challenge for a remesh of the team getting their familiarity with the new crew and the system. This is not easy and even November might be hard to tell but one should get a feel for their progress and the rest of the eastern conference to have an informed opinion at the least. At this time it is a pure guess not knowing who are on the new team.

      Comment


      • #4
        Bendit wrote: View Post
        Hmmm...I hope we aren't all disappointed.

        My vote is for making a decision in November sometime at least. This primarily because the team will still have to hang it's hat on defense. That we would probably have at least 2 new players in the starting lineup (and some on the bench) will be a challenge for a remesh of the team getting their familiarity with the new crew and the system. This is not easy and even November might be hard to tell but one should get a feel for their progress and the rest of the eastern conference to have an informed opinion at the least. At this time it is a pure guess not knowing who are on the new team.
        Definitely agree.

        I put the July 15th option in because usually the major deals are done within the first 3-4 days of free agency starting (which is July 11th, July 1st teams and players can talk).

        Anyone saying they are or are not a playoff team at this time is talking out of their behind.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have a lot of faith in Casey, but even he won't go on record as saying we'll be a playoff team, and he should now better than me.

          We are still a FRANCHISE LEVEL TALENT away from going deep in the playoffs, but I don't think we are that far away from having enough talent to get into the playoffs, flirting with a .500 winning percentage. It's really hard to get to the conference finals, you need elite talent to do it. There are only 8 teams every year that win a playoff round, I'm desperate for toronto to be one of those teams. Hopefully in 3 years will get there.
          "They're going to have to rename the whole conference after us: Toronto Raptors 2014-2015 Northern Conference Champions" ~ ezzbee Dec. 2014

          "I guess I got a little carried away there" ~ ezzbee Apr. 2015

          "We only have one rule on this team. What is that rule? E.L.E. That's right's, E.L.E, and what does E.L.E. stand for? EVERYBODY LOVE EVERYBODY. Right there up on the wall, because this isn't just a basketball team, this is a lifestyle. ~ Jackie Moon

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          • #6
            It would be seriously disappointing if we can't make it into the playoffs next season. Even if it's a matter of sneaking into the 8th spot and getting swept in the first round. Making the playoffs is a sign of improvement, and I'm confident BC will be able to give Casey some of the talent he needs to make that improvement. Not wanting to jinx anything, but there isn't actually any way that we can take a step backwards this off season is there?

            Comment


            • #7
              Mediumcore wrote: View Post
              It would be seriously disappointing if we can't make it into the playoffs next season. Even if it's a matter of sneaking into the 8th spot and getting swept in the first round. Making the playoffs is a sign of improvement, and I'm confident BC will be able to give Casey some of the talent he needs to make that improvement. Not wanting to jinx anything, but there isn't actually any way that we can take a step backwards this off season is there?
              Also not wanting to jinx things but: free agent signings who pull a Turkoglu, injuries, young players like DD or ED showing no improvement (again), and Casey losing the locker room with guys refusing to buy in. Wow.... I need a drink.

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              • #8
                LOL, great Matt! I wasn't even thinking about variables along the lines of behaviour amongst players and the general locker room. I was thinking more along the lines of us being in a position to only add and not subtract from the talent pool...but now you've given me more to get freaked out about

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                • #9
                  Matt52 wrote: View Post
                  Also not wanting to jinx things but: free agent signings who pull a Turkoglu, injuries, young players like DD or ED showing no improvement (again), and Casey losing the locker room with guys refusing to buy in. Wow.... I need a drink.
                  There is ZERO chance of Casey losing the locker room - Colangelo would trade anybody in a heartbeat who wasn't on-board with what Casey wants to do - and Casey has a presence we haven't seen in Toronto in years.
                  The best Raptors discussion board is at Raptors Republic.

                  Stephen Brotherston, Pro Bball Report

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    brothersteve wrote: View Post
                    There is ZERO chance of Casey losing the locker room - Colangelo would trade anybody in a heartbeat who wasn't on-board with what Casey wants to do - and Casey has a presence we haven't seen in Toronto in years.
                    I would agree. Casey is not only a phenomenal coach but also a great teacher and communicator.

                    I was giving hypotheticals to the question of reasons behind regression.

                    By the way Steve, great writing at HoopsWorld!

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                    • #11
                      I like Courtney Lee, Ray Allen....Dragic isn't mentioned, but I don't know, he's an interesting option, but could be riskier. Just like Batum at his price if he doesn't improve, although at least he's young so you wouldn't be too "burdened" by his contract.
                      Novak is obviously a great shooter. I don't see him fitting in unless we basically have all our other roles set, and maybe some of that happens while also going after Novak. Ilyasova is a similar case, since I don't buy him at the 3 spot, and we're still way too loaded up at the 4. I'm a bit tired of Barbosa's randomness.
                      Colangelo's gotta work some magic. I somehow doubt that we will be able to acquire an all-star unless said magic occurs. But rounding out the roster, while improving and trying to answer questions would be nice.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It's something that's way too early to tell. If the major additions to next year's team is Valanciunas and this year's pick, then no, this team will not make the playoffs. But yeah, there's so much that can happen between now and July 15.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Mediumcore wrote: View Post
                          It would be seriously disappointing if we can't make it into the playoffs next season. Even if it's a matter of sneaking into the 8th spot and getting swept in the first round. Making the playoffs is a sign of improvement, and I'm confident BC will be able to give Casey some of the talent he needs to make that improvement. Not wanting to jinx anything, but there isn't actually any way that we can take a step backwards this off season is there?
                          I agree completely. We have an opportunity next year to make a move because of the changes that so many teams are undergoing (Orlando, Atlanta, Probably NYC, Boston, Maybe Philly). Depending on the people we bring in, it will be tough, but because of our leadership structure in place right now, we do not have as much of a risk as other teams do, in bringing in talented players and having them mess up our chemistry.

                          I still believe we only have to be a little bit better (see our point differential) to make the playoffs. Whether or not we can win, is another story. That will depend on who BC brings in. As far as I'm concerned, he is just as likely to take risks on iffy players who can hurt us (Hedo), as he is to bring on guys who can make a difference positively (James Johnson, Amir).

                          As long as we don't do anything crazy, we should be fine if we stay the course and add proven guys to our team.

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