The Toronto Raptors had yet another disappointing season in 2009/10, missing the playoffs despite a radical roster makeover that was supposed to surge them toward the top of the Eastern Conference. They collapsed considerably down the stretch and went from the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference to out of the playoffs at 40-42.
And then, their star player left.
Sure, many Raptors fans got tired of Chris Bosh last season. After a strong start, he faded down the stretch, prompting allegations that he didn't give maximum effort. But Bosh was also an elite player, and the team did very little to replace him. Expecting that his loss is somehow addition by subtraction for this team is pretty delusional.
As SB Nation's Raptors blog Raptors HQ notes, without Bosh, it's hard to tell what strengths the Raptors possess.
We've spent a good deal of time this off-season examining the club's various attributes, but none have exactly jumped out as "strengths." Yes, the defence might take a minute step forward, but the team's rebounding struggles don't exactly appear to be alleviated, and unfortunately the team's one clear-cut strength last season, its offense, looks to have taken a step back minus Bosh.
Speed and athleticism at face value would appear to be the team's biggest strengths. However due to the youth and inexperience on the club, in addition to other factors, it's hard to say whether or not Toronto will be able to adequately use those tools to their advantage next season.
Raptors HQ throws out the team's bench, but admits that's a "hollow victory."
If we're really grasping at straws for strengths, Hoops Addict has one: the team's youth.
One thing the team has going for it is it's youth.
The team has an impressive core in Jarrett Jack, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis, Sonny Weems and Linas Kleiza that are all under the age of 26.
If Colangelo is able to give these players a couple seasons to grow together while continuing to add talented pieces then the future looks bright.
Ehh ... I know Raptors fans are trying to convince themselves things will be okay, but "impressive" isn't the word that comes to mind when I see those names. We'll see if they prove me wrong this season.
So we've established that the Raptors don't really have any strengths. What about their weaknesses? Hip Hoop Junkies points to the obvious one: defense.
You know it. The defense. Toronto had one of the worst defenses last season and don't expect it to get any better. The Raptors are now a bit thin down low with the likes of Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani, David Andersen and the young rook, Ed Davis. It will be a tough test for these guys to face some of the bigs in East like Dwight Howard, Carlos Boozer, Amare Stoudemire and most importantly, Chris Bosh.
Actually, the Raptors were the absolute worst defense in the league last year, and by a long margin. But Hip Hoop Junkies is right that there's not much potential for the defense to get better. Then again, it can't really get any worse.
If this preview seems pretty negative, it's because it is. What does that mean for record predictions? The bloggers weigh in.
- Raptors HQ: 30-52
- Hoops Addict: No prediction, except to say they'll be worse than the Nets.
- Hip Hoop Artists: 36-46
Me, I'm going way lower and saying Toronto will be 22-60, which will be the worst record in the East.