Toronto Raptors 2012-13 Season Preview: Can The Raps Contend In The East?

By Sachin Arora

When Bryan Colangelo hinted that changes were going to be made to the Toronto Raptors‘ squad, he certainly meant it. The Raptors greeted many new faces and said goodbye to old teammates this summer, and the outlook of the team is completely different. Colangelo certainly had his hits and misses, however when you look at the previous year’s roster and the current roster it’s hard to argue with the results.

The biggest addition of the offseason was certainly Kyle Lowry after losing out on the Steve Nash sweepstakes. The Raptors finally have an elite two way point guard that should create havoc and could contend for an all-star spot this year. Adding Landry Fields should also help, and rookies Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross add some firepower as well. To view an offseason recap, click here.

The goal has been made clear this year, and that’s earning a playoff spot in an Eastern Conference that just got a lot more competitive this offseason.

Let’s take a look at who the Raps are up against:

Playoff Locks: 

Miami Heat

Indiana Pacers

Boston Celtics

Likely Playoff Teams 

Chicago Bulls

New York Knicks

Brooklyn Nets

Playoff Contenders

Philadelphia  76ers

Toronto Raptors

Atlanta Hawks

Milwaukee Bucks

If I had to predict right now, I would say the Raptors should be able to grab the 7th seed. Philly doesn’t seem convincing after losing two of their top players. Adding Andrew Bynum was big, however he’s never shown the ability to carry an offense and if he can’t, the Sixers don’t have many other options. The Hawks lost their star Joe Johnson, and with so much uncertainty surrounding Josh Smith and his expiring contract, it looks like this team might just blow it up as well. The Bucks have a solid team, and they could very well take the 7th or 8th spot in the East.

There are so many variables that will determine the Raptors season. Will Jonas Valanciunas produce in his first year? Will Jose Calderon be an effective back-up? Can Landry Fields return to his rookie form? The list goes on and on, however if everything goes right, the Raptors have a young and dangerous team. A healthy Andrea Bargnani and determined and improved DeMar DeRozan should give the Raptors a big boost by themselves, however with these additions, the Raptors should be able to contend with most teams in the East. DeRozan should be able to stretch out defenses with an improved jump shot, and attack easier with better ball handling skills. And Bargnani claims he’s 100% healthy and should be able to produce as he did at the start of the season.

The Raptors have a young, strong core that could develop into something special, however they need to take it one step at a time. The first step is playoffs.

Prediction- 44-38, 4th in Atlantic 

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