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Zach Lowe, Si.com: Off season evaluations (Raptors)

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  • Zach Lowe, Si.com: Off season evaluations (Raptors)

    • Toronto Raptors

    If there’s a team from this group that belongs on the “intriguing” list, it’s probably Toronto, which landed its franchise point guard in a fascinating trade with the Rockets after improving from cover-your-eyes awful to league average on defense in coach Dwane Casey’s first year. Kyle Lowry will serve as the team’s major free-agent prize because the Raptors reserved their rather significant cap space for a two-pronged pursuit of Steve Nash, a strategy that included both a sizable offer to the two-time MVP and a crazy offer sheet to Landry Fields designed to block the Knicks from a sign-and-trade deal for Nash.

    Fields will make just shy of $6.5 million annually over the next three seasons, a drastic overpay for a wing who shot 25.6 percent from three-point range last season and struggles to defend quick shooting guards. Fields will likely begin the season as the starting small forward for a team that had one of the NBA’s worst wing rotations in 2011-12, when the likes of Rasual Butler and a slightly out-of-position James Johnson mostly started there. The 24-year-old Fields will represent an upgrade if he can shoot a league-average mark from deep, and his cutting game generally functioned much better before the Knicks dealt for Carmelo Anthony, the sort of dominant, ball-stopping scorer not present in Toronto. And it’s not as if Toronto missed an obvious gem in free agency; the small-forward market was top-heavy, with the prime options being either restricted (Nicolas Batum) or aging/potentially overpriced (Gerald Wallace, Andrei Kirilenko), and the Raptors used the draft to find a potential replacement (Terrence Ross) for DeMar DeRozan at shooting guard.

    The Fields deal will hurt the Raptors’ flexibility, but not fatally. Toronto is set to have about $11.5 million in cap space next summer before factoring in DeRozan’s $8.4 million cap hold. DeRozan’s future is one of the interesting questions that Toronto faces. Ditto for the frontcourt, where the anticipated debut of Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas will make for a crowd of players who all want minutes. Andrea Bargnani is obviously a heavy-minutes starter, and he played the best ball of his career early last season before suffering a series of nagging leg injuries. The Raptors, who had the second-worst offense last season, actually scored at a league-average rate when Bargnani was around to spread the floor.

    After that? Nothing but questions, with Amir Johnson, Ed Davis, Valanciunas and fellow Lithuanian Linas Kleiza, who can swing between both forward positions but probably works best in the NBA as a small-ball power forward. (The Raptors’ salary dump of Johnson to Sacramento cleared that precise role for Kleiza). And we haven’t mentioned Aaron Gray, a burly center for whom Casey has an affection.

    Bottom line: With some internal growth and Lowry on board to upgrade the defense at the top of the arc, the Raptors have a chance to make some noise in the race for the No. 8 spot — especially if the Sixers slip after their own offseason makeover. Toronto also will be a team to watch on the trade and free-agency markets because of its glut of big men, decent cap flexibility, still-available amnesty provision and point guard Jose Calderon’s expiring deal.

    http://nba-point-forward.si.com/2012...bcats-pistons/

    I think this is the best off season evaluation I've seen on the Raptors. There is no question they are better but how much better remains to be seen.

  • #2
    Matt52 wrote: View Post
    I think this is the best off season evaluation I've seen on the Raptors. There is no question they are better but how much better remains to be seen.
    Very accurate. I agree also that this is the best off-season evaluation on the Raptors.

    I think one place where they have upgraded/improved for sure, is the overused word of, potential. They can potentially be a very, very good team down the road.

    Comment


    • #3
      Finally, an off season evaluation from someone who knows that they're talking about. I think this is about as fair as it gets. Can't wait for the season to start!

      Comment


      • #4
        Looks like Philly might get Bynum tomorrow -_-. I think that would make them automatically a playoff team.
        @Chr1st1anL

        Comment


        • #5
          Definitely the best overview so far. Glad that he stressed that there were also no real options in FA for the SF position. We may have overpaid for Fields but it's certainly much less than other guys would have cost, but it comes with quite a question mark. Could be an interesting season.

          Comment


          • #6
            Chr1s1anL wrote: View Post
            Looks like Philly might get Bynum tomorrow -_-. I think that would make them automatically a playoff team.
            Yeah, still a bit hard to buy though with all the constant rumours. Also, I'm skeptical of the rumours the way the deal is structured because what does Denver get out of it? Iggy? And they give up Harrington (fine, that's no problem at all) and Afflalo (pretty big deal)...They have Afflalo, Chandler and Gallinari who can play the wing spot quite well, so it's odd that they'd give up Afflalo for Iggy to me. There must be something to sweeten the deal or something

            Comment


            • #7
              white men can't jump wrote: View Post
              Yeah, still a bit hard to buy though with all the constant rumours. Also, I'm skeptical of the rumours the way the deal is structured because what does Denver get out of it? Iggy? And they give up Harrington (fine, that's no problem at all) and Afflalo (pretty big deal)...They have Afflalo, Chandler and Gallinari who can play the wing spot quite well, so it's odd that they'd give up Afflalo for Iggy to me. There must be something to sweeten the deal or something
              Word is that Denver is very high on Afflalo and that's holding up the deal. If this deal does go down I'd expect BC to be on the phone with Ujiri asking about the availability of his SF's.

              On the article it's the most spot on analysis I've seen so far. This is going to be an interesting season, our division is probably the toughest in the East by far. We have 5 teams that could or are playoff worthy.

              Comment


              • #8
                Chr1s1anL wrote: View Post
                Looks like Philly might get Bynum tomorrow -_-. I think that would make them automatically a playoff team.
                Really? IMO, I don't one second believe this team automatically is a playoff team. Philly doesn't have a complete single outside threat on that team. Everything will have to come from the inside. Teams will just clog the lanes. Looks decent on paper, but this team lacks serious experience.

                Holiday/Ivey
                Turner/Young
                Young/Harkless/Wright
                Hawes/Moultrie/Allen
                Bynum/Brown/Vucevic

                Comment


                • #9
                  RaptorReuben wrote: View Post
                  Really? IMO, I don't one second believe this team automatically is a playoff team. Philly doesn't have a complete single outside threat on that team. Everything will have to come from the inside. Teams will just clog the lanes. Looks decent on paper, but this team lacks serious experience.

                  Holiday/Ivey
                  Turner/Young
                  Young/Harkless/Wright
                  Hawes/Moultrie/Allen
                  Bynum/Brown/Vucevic
                  Wright lead the league in 3 point FGs made 2 year ago. They also got Jason Richardson in the trade.
                  @Chr1st1anL

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    First good offseason evaluation of the Raps I've read, and not because it seems optimistic. Mostly because it's a fair assessment and seems like Zach Lowe's actually watched a game or two.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Chr1s1anL wrote: View Post
                      Wright lead the league in 3 point FGs made 2 year ago. They also got Jason Richardson in the trade.
                      I still don't see the team being an automatic playoff team... The Raptors are in the same mold. Both teams have very good potential to make the playoffs, but also can be placed right in the low lottery.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        RaptorReuben wrote: View Post
                        Really? IMO, I don't one second believe this team automatically is a playoff team. Philly doesn't have a complete single outside threat on that team. Everything will have to come from the inside. Teams will just clog the lanes. Looks decent on paper, but this team lacks serious experience.

                        Holiday/Ivey
                        Turner/Young
                        Young/Harkless/Wright
                        Hawes/Moultrie/Allen
                        Bynum/Brown/Vucevic
                        - traded away Harkless (per rumor, but I didn't think signed draft picks could be traded until 30 days after signing, which would be September 23rd for Harkless)
                        - traded away Vucevic
                        - traded for Richardson
                        - Hawes is a C, not really a PF

                        Holiday/Ivey
                        Turner/Richardson
                        Wright/N.Young
                        T.Young/Allen/Moultrie
                        Bynum/Hawes/Brown


                        Denver is the team that is really looking much improved, after adding Iggy and dumping two good but overpaid long contracts.

                        Lawson/A.Miller
                        Iggy/Fournier
                        Gallinari/Chandler/Brewer/Q.Miller
                        Faried/Randollph
                        McGee/Mozgov/Koufos

                        Afflalo (4 yrs @ $7.75M) gets replaced by Iggy. Harrington (3 yrs @ $6.69M) was made expendable by the development of Faried and acquisition of Randolph. Iggy is essentially even money next year and potentially the following season, if he uses his player option, then he's $15M off the books at least 1 year earlier than Afflalo/Harrington would start coming off the books.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
                          - traded away Harkless (per rumor, but I didn't think signed draft picks could be traded until 30 days after signing, which would be September 23rd for Harkless)
                          - traded away Vucevic
                          - traded for Richardson
                          - Hawes is a C, not really a PF

                          Holiday/Ivey
                          Turner/Richardson
                          Wright/N.Young
                          T.Young/Allen/Moultrie
                          Bynum/Hawes/Brown


                          Denver is the team that is really looking much improved, after adding Iggy and dumping two good but overpaid long contracts.

                          Lawson/A.Miller
                          Iggy/Fournier
                          Gallinari/Chandler/Brewer/Q.Miller
                          Faried/Randollph
                          McGee/Mozgov/Koufos

                          Afflalo (4 yrs @ $7.75M) gets replaced by Iggy. Harrington (3 yrs @ $6.69M) was made expendable by the development of Faried and acquisition of Randolph. Iggy is essentially even money next year and potentially the following season, if he uses his player option, then he's $15M off the books at least 1 year earlier than Afflalo/Harrington would start coming off the books.
                          The Nuggets are still looking at Lawson's extension. There could be one year of a big tax payment and more depending on if and what AI is resigned for.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
                            - traded away Harkless (per rumor, but I didn't think signed draft picks could be traded until 30 days after signing, which would be September 23rd for Harkless)
                            - traded away Vucevic
                            - traded for Richardson
                            - Hawes is a C, not really a PF

                            Holiday/Ivey
                            Turner/Richardson
                            Wright/N.Young
                            T.Young/Allen/Moultrie
                            Bynum/Hawes/Brown


                            Denver is the team that is really looking much improved, after adding Iggy and dumping two good but overpaid long contracts.

                            Lawson/A.Miller
                            Iggy/Fournier
                            Gallinari/Chandler/Brewer/Q.Miller
                            Faried/Randollph
                            McGee/Mozgov/Koufos

                            Afflalo (4 yrs @ $7.75M) gets replaced by Iggy. Harrington (3 yrs @ $6.69M) was made expendable by the development of Faried and acquisition of Randolph. Iggy is essentially even money next year and potentially the following season, if he uses his player option, then he's $15M off the books at least 1 year earlier than Afflalo/Harrington would start coming off the books.
                            Denver automatically looks really nice on the perimeter, and also significantly young after losing Harrington who was their locker room leader, and BPA off the bench.
                            Experience will be this team's downfall, but George Karl is a great coach, and will prepare his players for whatever has to come.

                            For Philadelphia, I don't know what to expect from that team. They do look quite nice on paper, but this team has the potential to be anything at this point.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              It's a nice write up...which I was surprised by because I had read this tweet before I read the article:

                              @ZachLowe_SI

                              Toronto fan on my Raps offseason evaluation: "Not bad for someone who probably didn't watch any Raptors games." Sigh.
                              I'm all for bashing any media member when it's deserving, but giving out backhanded compliments just because he's American is a waste of time and not cool.
                              Two beer away from being two beers away.

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