By Demario Phipps-Smith @DemarioPSmith on March 26, 2014
When was the last time the Toronto Raptors were a first place team in the Atlantic Division? Don’t worry, I don’t think anyone can remember. That being said, the Raptors are playing like making the playoffs were expected, and they have greater aspirations. It may be far-fetched to call them contenders this season, but this team has great potential that can be realized with a few offseason adjustments.
He had an excellent stint in New York, but Landry Fields has been underperforming his contract. If he were a good as Toronto paid him to be, the Raptors would have the best backcourt in the league. Fields is only averaging two points per game this season, but could probably still revive his career if he went to a different team. He has talent, but it's not going to show in Toronto.
At times, this team resembles a good post defending team or a good scoring team. There are other times when the Raptors appear to be a team lacking depth, experience and leadership. Sometimes they just look like the DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry show. Teams with proven identities win games and championships in the NBA. The Raptors should pick a definite direction and stick with it this offseason.
Toronto has good big men in Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas, but it ends there. The reserve unit after these two is sorely lacking in talent and size. Valanciunas is asked to expend too much energy on the defensive end to become an effective scoring threat on the block right now. If the Raptors could give him some help defending, then he should be able to add more scoring.
There is no doubt that the Raptors have something special in DeRozan and Lowry, but with such talent, can this team afford to wait for Terrance Ross’ progression? Toronto isn’t the most attractive destination and if the team doesn’t become a contender soon, the Raptors' two stars may be lured to other locations. Ross would be an interesting trade piece for a more consistent, proven veteran.
Although this wouldn’t improve the play on the court, it could mean more seats would be filled in the stadium. If the fans had more reason to be engaged in the games, then perhaps Toronto could become a dreaded place to play. Most guards wouldn’t want to guard either of the Raptors’ stars, but it would make matters worse to face them with a rabid crowd led by Drake.
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