It’s been a long, injury filled, rollercoaster ride of season for the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors have experienced the aftermath of losing star player Chris Bosh, and this was a rebuilding season for the second youngest team in the league.
Finishing at the bottom of the Atlantic Division with a record of 22-60, the Raps have set themselves up nicely for the lottery, finishing with the third worst record in the league, holding a 13.8% chance of getting the first overall pick.
A couple of trades were made throughout the season with Toronto losing Jarrett Jack and a draft pick but getting Jerryd Bayless and James Johnson to add to the young core.
The Raps started the season near the .500 mark with a record of 8-11, but after losing leading rebounder Reggie Evans, the young squad seemed to lose all of their interior toughness and defense went downhill. Evans was on a ridiculous rebounding pace earlier, and the Raptors rebounding woes weren’t exposed when he was in the starting line-up. When he went down, there was nobody rebounding the ball, and the Raps started losing games.
An embarrassing 13 game losing streak put an end to the Raptors playoff hopes for the season, but you can’t help but wonder what a healthy Raptor squad would have been capable of.
To put it into perspective, DeMar DeRozan was the only player who played all 82 games. Amir Johnson played 72 games, but no other player played in more than 70 games. Linas Kleiza went down at around the halfway point and the Raps lost him for the season, Reggie Evans was lost early and missed most of the season, both point guards Jerryd Bayless and Jose Calderon missed extended time, leading scorer Andrea Bargnani missed 16 games, Leandro Barbosa was out for 24 games, Ed Davis missed the first 17 games, the list goes on and on.
All the injuries gave the young Raptor players a chance to prove themselves. DeMar DeRozan established himself as a big name player in this league, Ed Davis is looking like a young Jermaine O’neal, James Johnson finally proved to be a decent player after being a benchwarmer his whole career and Jerryd Bayless showed that when he’s a starter, he can produce.
Yeah, Andrea Bargnani regressed in terms of his rebounding, but he did prove that he can carry the scoring load of the team. Jose Calderon had a great season after a mediocre 2009-10 campaign, averaging the fifth best assists total in the league at 8.9 per game. Now could be the time to trade Calderon or Bargnani, or maybe even both.
On what was supposed to be the high point of the Raptors season, DeRozan got robbed in the dunk contest in what was one of the worst judged contests in the history of the dunk contest. Everyone around the world was wondering the same thing. How did Blake Griffin possibly get into the finals with those two mediocre dunks? Well, the better question is: What would Kia and the choir have done if Griffin didn’t make the finals?
The defense was atrocious once again this season, and this must be addressed in the offseason. In terms of rebounding, the team was below par as well. Offensively, the team wasn’t too bad, the team just lacked a closer to finish games. The bottom line is, the Raptors just didn’t have enough veteran presence or star power to make a difference this season. However, the potential is there and many positives will be taken away from this year.
Overall, it was fun to watch the young Raptors squad come together and play. They always stood together as a team, and played their hearts out (most of the time).
The offseason will be huge for the team. New ownership could be on the way, Bryan Colangelo and Jay Triano could be on the way out, the Raptors could draft a superstar, and the Raptors have lots of cap space to sign players.
For more in depth analysis of player development, come back to Raptors Cage for player grades for the 2010-2011 season.