Toronto Raptors: Must Not See TV?

Three weeks from today, the NBA will come to Montreal to provide us with entertainment as the Toronto Raptors will square off in a preseason game against the New York Knicks. I will be watching attentively since this will be my first live NBA action since around 2002. As much as I am intrigued to see this new and improved Knicks team, I am much more interested in seeing what the Raptors will look like with Chris Bosh now in Miami.

The knock on Toronto is that they have invested too much time and effort in scouting international type players as opposed to just scouting legit NBA players that could potentially help the team improve. During the past two seasons, the Raptors organization has built a team to get up and down the floor, fire a few three points shots and feed the big man inside. Bryan Colangelo tried to recreate the run and gun Phoenix Suns team that we saw play during the past five years but failed.

Colangelo looked to exploit Chris Bosh’s talents by surrounding him with shooters and a legit point guard; the same way he did with Amare Stoudemire out in Phoenix years prior. Mind you, the Raptors were a team without a great playmaker (they struggled to get the right players to take bulk of the shots, because you know, Jose Calderon is not Steve Nash) while their whole identity revolved around their offense. The music equivalent of this would have been to put Nate Dogg, T-Pain, Lil’Jon and Pitbull together and then ask them to make a successful rap album. It could never work because they are all artists that shine when they are asked to complement great lyricists. But if asked to carry an album together without a dominant artist, they are destined to fail. And for the most part, that’s what happened to the Raptors. They would put up a lot of points but were unable to get them when it truly mattered late in games.

The biggest issue the Raptors have faced in the Colagenlo era though (especially last season) is the team’s lack of toughness. The team never picked up any enforcer type players to help protect their best players and also discourage opponents from driving the lane. Consequently, the Raptors were bullied often last year. And although this is a new team with the departure of Bosh, can you truly say that the roster has changed? Have a look (new comers are in italic):

Solomon Alabi
David Andersen
Marcus Banks
Leandro Barbosa
Andrea Bargnani
Jose Calderon
Ed Davis
Demar DeRozan
Joey Dorsey
Ronald Dupree
Reggie Evans
Jarrett Jack
Amir Johnson
Linas Kleiza
Sonny Weems
Julian Wright  

Although the Raptors brought in six new players this year, I don’t foresee the team going through any radical change in terms of their identity. Their two biggest acquisitions in the offseason were Linas Kleiza and Leandro Barbosa; who are both shoot first players that have trouble defending their opponents. If anything, they will reinforce the team’s style of play as a fast paced team. The absence of a true go to player however will make it tough for Toronto to consistently get wins and also for people to watch their games.

Although Raptors fans will religiously follow the squad, the average NBA fan will not be tuning in to watch them play because the team lacks a star player that people might be able to identify with. Couple that with the fact that the Raptors do not have one single thing that they do well (except failing to rotate on defense) and you can understand why the Raptors won’t be getting a fair amount of ratings this year. Hopefully Bryan Colangelo uses the trade exception he obtained in the Chris Bosh sign and trade to bring in an exciting player worth checking out; because otherwise, the Toronto Raptors will not be must see television.

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