Toronto Raptors should be one of most improved teams in NBA


raptors cheerleaders

The Sports Bank will be counting down to the opening tip of the 2012-13 NBA season with team by team previews starting with the worst and working our way to the title contenders.  There is no lockout this time around so let’s get going.

The Toronto Raptors added four quality pieces in the off-season and should be one of the most improved teams in the Eastern Conference; certainly possessing enough talent to earn a spot in the playoffs.

TORONTO RAPTORS
2011-12: 23-43, 11th in Eastern Conference
Predicted EC Finish: 8th

Projected Depth Chart:
C: Jonas Valanciunas/Amir Johnson/Aaron Gray/Jamaal Magloire
PF: Andrea Bargnani/Ed Davis/Quincy Acy
SF: Landry Fields/Linas Kleiza/Alan Anderson/Dominic McGuire
SG: DeMar DeRozan/Terrence Ross/Jerel McNeal
PG: Kyle Lowry/Jose Calderon/John Lucas III

Toronto’s off-season was: quietly efficient.  The Raps found an experienced yet still young and developing point guard of the future in Kyle Lowry whom they acquired from Houston for a future first round pick.  What makes me like the deal even more is that Lowry is only owed a very respectable $12 million over the next two years.  Toronto also found a needed upgrade of talent on the wing by drafting Terrence Ross and signing Landry Fields.

Of course the off-season also confirmed the highly anticipated arrival of 2011 first round pick Jonas Valanciunas who spent last year playing overseas.  Raptor fans got a taste of what the big man will bring to the team during the Summer Olympics in London as he will bringing a needed true big man to the Raps’ roster.

2012-2013 will be a success if: Toronto sneaks into the postseason.  I have the Raptors doing just that as the eighth playoff team in the Eastern Conference which would be quite a turnaround for a team that finished twenty games under five hundred last season.  The Raps have improved their depth across the roster and I think the addition of Valaciunas will be huge as it will provide the team with a needed physical presence inside and allow Andrea Bargnani to play his more natural power forward position.

2012-2013 will be a disappointment if: progress isn’t made.  Maybe I’m overestimating how improved the Raptors will be this season but with the additions they made this off-season and the hits that teams ranked below them took, Toronto is certainly a team on the rise.  If that doesn’t happen immediately, it would be very disheartening.

Looking ahead to next summer: The only key player who becomes a free agent is Jose Calderon whose named been in trade rumors since Lowry was acquired this off-season.  His $10.5 million contract comes off the books which will open up enough cap space for Toronto to possibly add a couple of minor pieces.  That is of course if Calderon actually sticks on the roster the entire season and isn’t dealt during the year.

OTHER NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE PREVIEWS:
#9 Milwaukee Bucks
#10 Detroit Pistons
#11 Atlanta Hawks
#12 Cleveland Cavaliers
#13 Orlando Magic
#14 Washington Wizards
#15 Charlotte Bobcats

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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