With training camp starting in Cleveland on October 1, Right Down Euclid will be ranking teams from the bottom to the top of the Eastern and Western Conferences. Everyday I will rotate between conferences, starting with the East teams and counting up from No. 16 all the way to the best team in each respective conference.
I will give a quick synopsis of each team’s roster, some of their statistics from last year and why I think they will finish in the position that I predicted. Agree or disagree, stay tuned to RDE to see where your team lands in the 2012 Offseason Team Rankings.
No. 12 – Toronto Raptors (5th in Atlantic Division)
2011-12 season: 23-43 (.348), 4th place in Atlantic Division (7-8)
Offensive Efficiency: 98.5 (25th)
Defensive Efficiency: 101.5 (12th)
F – Quincy Acy
F-G – Alan Anderson
F – Andrea Bargnani
G – Jose Calderon
F – Ed Davis
G-F – Demar DeRozan
F – Landry Fields
C – Aaron Gray
C-F –Amir Johnson
F – Linas Kleiza
G – Kyle Lowry
G – John Lucas
G – Terrence Ross
C – Jonas Valanciunas
The Raptors, with the exception of Leandro Barbosa who was sent to the Indiana Pacers last season, are returning top scorers and veterans in Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon. That’s where the problem lies. Bargnani may be the most explosive scorer on the team, but at 7-0 he should really focus on being the big man that the Raptors need down low. He became a better defender last season, but he needs to be able to play in the middle rather than on the wing. Toronto has many players, even without Barbosa, that can fill that role. This team won’t move on from the post-Chris Bosh era until they find someone to stick down low. Rookie Jonas Valanciunas could be that guy, but he’s apart of another problem as to why the Raptors will finish last in the Atlantic this season.
This Raports team is very young. No players on the current roster has NBA experience over seven years, and we could see a very important piece and seven-year veteran Calderon could be heading out the door very soon with the pickup of point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry, who has played in the NBA for six years, has career averages of 14.3 points, 6.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds. He started 38 of the 47 games he played in last season. Calderon averaged 10.5 points, 8.8 assists and 3.0 rebounds, but I think that Lowry has more room to improve. Calderon has spent all of his seven seasons with the Raptors, so losing him would be a huge blow to a team that is trying to build chemistry with young players such as Quincy Acy, Landry Fields and Terrence Ross.
I’m not saying that Calderon will be gone, but he’s very likely to be splitting time with Lowry, and the longtime Raptor won’t like that very much. Although the Raptors were one of the better defensive teams in the Association last season, they will struggle this year with trying to work in the new additions to the team. They lost one of their better defenders when small forward James Johnson was traded to the Sacramento Kings.