Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pre-Hibachi Fastbreak: Toronto Raptors

Season's almost started, y'all. So we gotta get on these previews quick, because we don't have a lot of time. So don't complain about the length or quality, we're doing them as quick as we can as well as we can.

Last Year:
Coach: Sam Mitchell (4th year)
Record: 41-41, 2nd place in Atlantic Division, 6th in Eastern Conference, lost in first round to Orlando Magic.

Scoring leader: Chris Bosh
Rebounding leader: Chris Bosh
Assists leader: Jose Calderon
Steals leader: Jose Calderon, T.J. Ford
Blocks leader: Jamario Moon

2008-09 Probable Starting Lineup

PG: Jose Calderon - 6'3", 210 pounds, 27 years old
2007-08 stats: 11.2 PPG, 8.3 APG, 2.9 RPG, 1.1 SPG

This Spaniard's numbers have increased every year since he entered the L in 2005, and he is still on the young side and improving. Toronto has put a lot of faith into this potential-laden court general, having barely a backup to cover his butt if he gets injured or, well, just can't do the job consistently enough. Solid from beyond the arc, he doesn't really look to take the three pointer. Calderon is also a great shooter and free throw shooter (.908 in 07-08), and he can drive to the hole at will. Calderon plays great D on the outside and perimeter, and he is blessed with amazing quickness.

SG: Anthony Parker - 6'6", 215 pounds, 33 years old
2007-08 stats: 12.5 PPG, 2.2 APG, 4.1 RPG, .8 SPG

The brother of Candace Parker will be entering his sixth year in the NBA in the 08-09 season at 33 years old; he left the NBA in 2000 to play in Europe, but he returned in 2006 to be an adequate NBA starter. Parker likes to shoot the three and is above average out there, shooting .438 last year. Not very strong or quick at all, he plays averaged defense on the outside and can't defend the post very well. Parker will make a small contribution to the Raptors this year, but it will be a contribution nonetheless.

SF: Jamario Moon - 6'8", 205 pounds, 28 years old
2007-08 stats (rookie year): 8.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.4 BPG

The former Harlem Globetrotter, Jamario Moon is an athletic freak of nature. The dude has epic hops, and he has great handles and gets rebounds well, both of these unusual for a man of his size. Not much of a scorer or outside shooter, Moon can knock down the midrange jumper fairly easily. But his defense is where he shines, a great inside stopper, outside and perimeter defender. He is a sensational shot blocker for his position/height as well.

PF: Chris Bosh - 6'10", 230 pounds, 24 years old
2007-08 stats: 22.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.0 BPG

Bosh is the marquee player on the Toronto Raptors; an underrated almost under-the-radar all star up north. Bosh has an above average basketball IQ, able to figure out the opponent's weaknesses during a game very well. His 12-15 foot jumper is usually money, and if it's not on, he'll take it to the hole. His footwork on defense is great; Bosh is good at positioning himself for rebounds and to alter the opponent's shot. Bosh was an all-star last year (self promoted; see picture above) and look for that to become a habit.

C: Jermaine O'Neal - 6'11", 260 pounds, 30 years old
2007-08 stats (42 games): 13.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, 2.1 BPG

The biggest question of the year for Toronto: Will Jermaine O'Neal jump back from his injury last year and give us what he gave the Pacers when he wasn't injured? It is a big one; throughout O'Neal's career he has had injuries. But if O'Neal is fine and plays well, then the Raptors have one of the best frontcourts in the league, with him and Bosh. His all star days are gone, but his days of being effective are still here. O'Neal will be the big defensive presence this year for Toronto, and if it works out, it will be one of the smartest moves of the offseason.

Depth Chart:

Jose Calderon/Roko Ukic
Anthony Parker/Willie Solomon/Hassan Adams
Jamario Moon/Jason Kapono/Joey Graham
Chris Bosh/Kris Humphries
Jermaine O'Neal/Andrea Bargnani/Nathan Jawai

Bottom Line:
The Raptors are getting better with the improving Calderon and Bosh, and hopefully for them O'Neal will deliver. If everything goes right, I have Toronto winning 45-48 games and another 6th seed. CB4 going all out this year!


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