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Tag:Heat
Posted on: January 21, 2009 11:12 am
 

2009 Free Agent Class - Overlooked and Forgotten?

I know we are all focused on 2010 when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh become free agents and the rumours that are swirling around with that, but what about next years class? looking over the list i see a lot of pieces that many teams would love to have, so, the question is do you think this season's batch of free agents will be pretty much ignored or will there be a flurry of trades and deals to secure some of these guys before 2010 which, in my opinion, is really a three team race right now.

Here is the list

Hawks -Josh Childress, Solomon Jones, Marvin Williams
Mike Bibby, Zaza Pachulia
 

 

 

Celtics - Glen Davis, Leon Powe
Eddie House (P)
 

 

Bobcats - Shannon Brown, Jermareo Davidson, Raymond Felton, Ryan Hollins, Sean May

 

 

Aaron Gray,Drew Gooden
 

 

 

Cavaliers - Lance Allred, Tarence Kinsey
Zydrunas Ilgauskas (ETO), Damon Jones, Joe Smith, Eric Snow, Wally Szczerbiak, Billy Thomas, Anderson Varejao (P)
 


Mavericks - Brandon Bass, Gerald Green, Eddie Jones, Jason Kidd, Keith McLeod, James Singleton
 

 

 

Nuggets -Linas Kleiza
Chris Andersen, Anthony Carter, Steven Hunter (ETO), Allen Iverson, Dahntay Jones
 

 

Pistons - Will Bynum (T), Jason Maxiell, Check Samb
Kwame Brown (P), Richard Hamilton (ETO), Rasheed Wallace
 

 

 

Warriors - C.J. Watson
Al Harrington (P)
 

 

Rockets - Mike Harris, Luther Head
Ron Artest, Ron Francis
 

 

 

Pacers - Danny Granger, Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts
Maceo Baston, Marquis Daniels (T), Travis Diener (P), Jeff Foster, Stephen Graham, Rasho Nesterovic
 

 

Clippers - Ricky Davis (P), Steve Novak, Brian Skinner
Jason Hart
 

 

 

Lakers - Coby Karl
Trevor Ariza, Kobe Bryant (ETO), Chris Mihm, Lamar Odom
 

 

Grizzlies - Juan Carlos Navarro, Hakim Warrick
Antoine Walker (ETO)
 

 

 

Heat - Stephane Lasme, Joel Anthony
Mark Blount (ETO), Shawn Marion
 

 

Bucks - Ramon Sessions, Charlie Villanueva
Malik Allen (P), Tyronn Lue, Desmond Mason
 

 

 

Timberwolves - Rashad McCants
Calvin Booth, Jason Collins
 

 

Nets - Nenad Krstic
Trenton Hassell (ETO), Jarvis Hayes (T), Stromile Swift
 

 

 

Hornets - Melvin Ely, Mike James (P)
 

 

 

Knicks - David Lee, Nate Robinson
Jamal Crawford (ETO), Eddy Curry (ETO), Jerome James (P), Stephon Marbury, Quentin Richardson (ETO), Malik Rose
 

 

Thunder - Johan Petro
Adrian Griffin, Chris Wilcox, Damien Wilkins (ETO), Donyell Marshall
 

 

 

Maqic - Marcin Gortat
Keith Bogans, Brian Cook (P), Adonal Foyle, Anthony Johnson (P), Hedo Turkoglu (ETO)
 

 

76ers - Royal Ivey (P), Andre Miller, Kareem Rush
 

 

 

Suns - D.J. Strawberry
Matt Barnes, Grant Hill

 

 

Trail Blazers - Ike Diogu, Channing Frye, Martell Webster
Raef LaFrentz

 

 

Kings - Bobby Brown (P), Francisco Garcia
Shareef Abdur-Rahim (ETO), Bobby Jackson
 

 

 

Spurs - Ime Udoko, Jacque Vaughn

 

 

Raptors - Carlos Delfino, Joey Graham, Jamario Moon, Will Solomon
Jermaine O'Neal (P), Anthony Parker

 

 

Jazz - Paul Millsap, Kyrylo Fesenko (T)
Carlos Boozer (P), Jarron Collins, Brevin Knight, Kyle Korver (ETO), Mehmet Okur (ETO), Ronnie Price

 

 

Wizards - Etan Thomas (ETO)

Posted on: November 20, 2008 3:03 pm
 

Raptors - Nets game preview

Friday night we welcome to the ACC the one and only Vince Carter and his traveling minstrel show, I mean the Nets. I am sure the Raptors fans will lovingly welcome back the team’s all-time scoring leader with loving shouts of adoration.

Now that I have that off my chest, Friday’s game with the Nets is another key divisional game that we can’t afford to lose. With the Celtics so far, and again, the class of the East if not the league we need to keep pace with the teams bunched up behind them until we can find our groove and put a few wins together. At 6 – 5, the Raptors are tied with the Knicks for 2nd in the Atlantic a game ahead of the 5 – 6 76ers and 2 games up on the 4 – 6 Nets. Divisional games this season will have huge playoff ramifications every night as the Celtics are showing little sign of slowing down with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce doing what they do best, WIN.

The Raptors come into the game off a week where they played without Jose Calderon for two games. Sunday they were able to hold off the struggling Heat at the ACC then headed to Florida for a split against the Magic and the Heat. The Magic took advantage of our poor outside shooting as Jason Kapono and Jamario Moon struggled as they have all season and Will Solomon lead them to a two game total of 44 turnovers, 24 against the Magic as Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson all had 22 points and attacked Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal all night long. Wednesday saw a rematch against the Heat in Miami and the return of the spiritual leader of this team Jose Calderon. Cutting the turnovers in half allowed this team to spread the floor and move the ball as Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal turned in double doubles with 31 points and 27 rebounds between them while Andrea Bargnani started with 10 quick points and 25 points on the game.

The Nets are coming off a week where they lost to the Pacers and the Cavaliers but beat the Hawks in a home and home last weekend. This team of course has Vince Carter who is still putting up 22.8 points a game and 5 assists. This year, they have a few guys that are full of potential and have been called a playoff team in more than one pre-season ranking. Devin Harris brings 23 points and 4 boards and 6 assists to the floor every night to help this team as they await an injured front court to return. Eduardo Najera, Josh Boone and Stromile Swift are all out at this point which leaves the front court to younger players such as Brook Lopez and Yi Jianlian who are playing well, as is Keyon Dooling. The Nets will be in tough as we continue to floor our 3 man wrecking crew up front while Anthony Parker seems to have found his stroke and Jose Calderon keep the back end humming along and in control. Devin Harris against Jose Calderon will be the match to pay attention to as both will try to establish the tempo of the game and keep the offenses running at a high level. Anthony Parker against Vince Carter will be the key match-up in the back court as Parker will have to play solid at both ends to contain him. Where the Nets will struggle is in the front court as Brook Lopez will probably start against Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Bosh will face Yi Jianlian which should give the Raptors another advantage as they bring into the game a 3 game average of 27/12 for Bosh and 14.5/15 for Jermaine.  I am not sure who Sam Mitchell will start against Bobby Simmonds, but if Jamario starts, this will be an exciting match up of two very athletic wingmen. If Sam goes big, which I think he will to exploit the weak Nets front at this point, Andrea brings a three game average of 14 points and nearly 4 boards a game. If he can grab a few more rebounds, I think all Raptors fans would be able to handle those numbers night after night. Starting him at the 3 spot by nature would afford him less opportunity to grab boards, but he is beginning to balance his game out, which has to be good. Both benches are in search of consistency with Roko Ukic and Will Solomon showing how tough it is to step in and play PG in this league, Kris Humphries and Jason Kapono will be looked at to provide solid help from a bench that is very thin. The Nets are hurt and therefore their bench strength is starting which is never a good situation to be in but Ryan Anderson and Jarvis Hayes provide the minutes needed to get the guys rest.

I look for a game where both teams will rely on their stars. Chris Bosh and Vince Carter will be expected to shine. I also think that if the Raptors pound away at the inside on the glass as they have averaged 46.3 rebounds including 12.6 offensive boards per game over the last 3 games. They have allowed just 37.6 in the past 3 games, 11.3 of which are offensive. That is one area you don’t want to be the worst in the league at for sure.

Enjoy the game.

Posted on: November 20, 2008 10:27 am
 

Raptors - Heat Round 2 Review

Last night in Miami, Dwyane Wade and the Heat were looking to take advantage of a weakened opponent and gain a sense of revenge for the loss on Sunday in Toronto. Jose Calderon started last night and Sam Mitchell put Andrea Bargnani on the floor again and was rewarded with probably the best quarter the young Italian has played as a Raptors player. A quick 10 points by Andrea got the Raptors off to a good start as they worked to shake off the bitter loss in Orlando to the Magic the night before. He ended up with 25 on the night, a Raptors game high. After giving up 44 turnovers in Sunday and Tuesday’s games, the Raptors looked to Jose to provide some stability to the stagnating offense as Will Solomon tried to step in with Roko Ukic to fill the huge void Jose left.

The game was a very exciting one with the ball flying all over the court. It was fun to watch Andrea run the floor with Anthony Parker who broke out of his slump dropping 19 points while grabbing 6 rebounds including 1 Offensive. Down the stretch he answered several D-Wade dunks with smooth 3’s from the corner. A very welcome sight as his check scored 40 on us while collecting 4 boards and hanging out 11 assists and adding 5 blocks to a very solid game. Shawn Marion added 20 points and 14 rebounds to the mix.

These teams played a very even game as the stats reflect very little between them that stands out as the main reason one team won and the other lost. The Raptors made 38 baskets, the Heat 39, the Raptors hit 9 from 3 point land which was refreshing after the debacle in Orlando, while the Heat were a bit out done here making only 7. The Raptors shot 62% from outside while the Heat began to settle for outside shots when they started getting down in the 3rd ending up at 30% on 3’s. As I have stated many times and will as long as I breath basketball, this game was won and lost at the Free Throw line. The Raptors made 16 of 20 while the Heat made 10 of 15. Those 6 baskets were the margin of victory.

Some other things that I enjoyed watching last night was the steady play of Jermaine O’Neal as he has become the inside force we lacked for many years now. The play of the game from my perspective was the late block on D-Wade from the wing. That play stopped his momentum enough for us to come back down the floor and drop another 3. Defense really does matter in the NBA. Chris Bosh took the night off and ended up with another double – double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Kris Humphries came off the bench and gave us some great play attacking the ball all over the floor and making 6 of 7 Free Throws – an interesting number, no? Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono were both very quiet again, but Jamario did hit a huge 3 for the team and did manage 2 huge steals in the 4th quarter as the Heat were edging back.

Over all, this was a very well played game by the starters who responded to Chris’ huge game Tuesday, as well as the return of Jose Calderon who gave us 8 points, 7 assists and only 1 turnover. Cutting the turnovers in half from the Magic game allowed us to keep the pressure on the smaller front of the Heat and was one of the huge keys to the victory. With 4 guys in double digits and another game with two double-double guys, this team returned to a balance offense with great ball movement. I am still concerned by how easily the Heat were able to find wide open guys, it’s a good thing they didn’t make a couple more shots.

We now prepare for the Nets, the Celtics and the Hawks with the Lakers soon to follow.

Posted on: November 19, 2008 10:32 am
 

Raptors - Heat Preview - Round 2

Well, tonight will be a very difficult game for this Raptors team as they recover from the worst performance by a Raptors team in a long time. Other than Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal, this team lacked focus, lack intensity and lacked the heart to keep the Magic on their heels posting a 10 point 2nd quarter lead only to lose it with bad offensive play. Tonight, the Heat will look to capitalize on the weak back court that we have unless Jose Calderon is ready to go. I hope he doesn't rush back and hurt himself worse as much as it pains me to say, we need him healthy for more than tonight.

Jermaine O'Neal has begun to play the solid game at both ends of the floor we brought him here for. Dwight Howard was frustrated all night and made 8 - 11 ft's to finish with 18 points and only 9 rebounds, well below his average for both. After these two, the team looks very thin. Andrea Bargnani is getting the ball where he should be, but is relying on pull-up jumpers again. Jamario Moon will need to step his game up quickly as neither him nor Jason Kapono looks able to play consistent basketball at this point in the year. Will Solomon had 7 of the 24 turnovers which destroyed this team in the 3rd quarter and down the stretch. I wish we could wave and wand and make Will play nba level, but it is a learning curve, one that both he and Roko Ukic suddenly find themselves looking straight up at.

The Heat, fresh off a victory last night against the Wizards, are looking to avenge the loss in Toronto on Sunday. Dwyane Wade rolled his ankle in that game but played last night in Washington. With a line-up that features Wade, Shawn Marion, Michael Beasley and Udonis Haslem as well as Mario Chalmers, the Raptors will need to play smart ball control offense and solid team defense, both of which have been lacking even with Jose Calderon in the line-up. Tonight Sam Mitchell will have a tough challenge to get his players ready to help Bosh at both ends of the floor. From here, there are no easy games with the Nets, the Celtics and the Lakers and the Hawks coming up. We need to right this ship NOW.

Posted on: November 17, 2008 4:46 pm
 

Week 3 Raptors Review

Week 3 for the Raptors started with a tough fourth quarter collapse in Boston as the Celtics rode the hot hand of Paul Pierce to a victory. We had a 16 point leads twice in the third quarter as Jermaine O'Neal recovered from an awful game in Charlotte. He ended the game with 23 points and 11 rebounds, but better than that, he has played 3 solid games this past week, which is a very good sign for this team. Anthony Parker had 15, while Jason Kapono had 14 while Kevin Garnett made Chris Bosh work for all of the 9 points he scored. The biggest thing we learned Monday was that this Raptors team is going to struggle containing SF's all season until someone can step up and consistently provide both solid offense and tough defense. This game could have been won if anyone would have stepped up and made a couple stops instead of watching Pierce drop 22 points on them in that last quarter. We ended up -5 in turnovers and -2 in steals. Ball control is a huge issue with this team as we saw against the 76ers.

Against the 76ers, the Raptors struggled the entire game as the quicker 76ers caused bad passes and put pressure on our back court all game. The biggest news from this game was the loss of Jose Calderon to a hamstring injury. We were able to get the game to 4 points a few times, but it seemed the next offensive set would result in a turnover, a quick bad shot and transition basket by the 76ers as we stood around wondering how it missed, then we were suddenly down 10 again. Maurice Cheeks had this team ready to put pressure on our back court, especially after Jose went down and Will Solomon and Roko Ukic had to find a way to step in and control the ball. The Raptors were out rebounded, had more turnovers and gave away more steals to this team as Elton Brand scored 25 and 8 rebounds. Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller added 18 points each and a total of 25 rebounds. Samuel Dalembert, who grabbed 17 boards in the season opener, was very quiet with 2 points and 2 rebounds before fouling out as Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal pounded the ball inside all night, but just couldn't keep the ball going in to these guys consistently enough to take the lead back. CB, JO and Andrea Bargnani combined for 64 points and 28 rebounds as a trio.

With Jose Calderon in a lovely suit, Sam Mitchell started Andrea Bargnani at the SF against the Heat Sunday as they brought a good back court of Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers with Daequan Cook and Chris Quinn adding 27 points off the bench. The game provided us a look a the possibilities this Raptors team could bring to any game with our front court able to floor Chris Bosh, Jermaine O'Neal and Andrea Bargnani up front leaving Anthony Parker and Will Solomon in the back court until Jose returns. I was impressed with Will's game with 15 points and 11 assists in a game in which we were to be outplayed in the back court, he held his own as Anthony Parker added 10 points while trying to contain Dwyane. Perhaps the surprise of the game was how much life sitting seems to have put under the feet of Jamario Moon as he was attacking the hole again and was rewarded with 5 trips to the line. The other big part of this game was watching Kris Humphries add 14 points and 9 rebounds in the 16 minutes he played allowing us to keep a steady rotation of bigs on the floor. A couple notes on this game that I really enjoyed seeing. The Heat shot 40% as a team including 3 – 19 from outside the arc in the second half. Well done guys. Perimeter defense does actually pay off. Though Dwyane Wade had 29, he did so on 13 – 31 shooting with only 3 of 4 from the line. Keeping him shooting tough shots was key to containing this offense as Shawn Marion struggled to find his range and Udonis Haslem and Michael Beasley could only provide 23 points inside.

Overall, the week was tough with 2 losses, but I think what we learned about the guard situation will carry us a long way when Jose returns. When JO begins to hit the easy inside shots he seems to still struggle with, this team will be very hard to match up with in the front court night after night with 4 solid big men able to rotate through playing solid defensively and starting to understand how to rebound as a group. With games against the Magic and a return game in Miami then home to receive the Nets, this week could see us get to 8 – 4 with some good play. I would be very happy with that as the next week will bring us the Celtics, the Hawks and the Lakers.

Posted on: November 16, 2008 5:10 pm
 

Raptors - Heat Post Game Wrap up

The Raptors today hosted the Heat without the services of Jose Calderon. I must admit that I was a bit hesistant going into the game with Will Solomon as the starter, but was happy that Sam decided to start our three bigs with Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Bosh up front and Andrea Bargnani in the SF position. A great way to exploit our bigs who have all been playing very well the last few games though we have lost to the Hawks, the Celtics and the Pistons, it has not been due to front court play.

With Jose on the bench, Will Solomon and Anthony Parker were left to provide the spark from the back court. Will responded with a solid 15 points and 11 assists as he seemed a bit anxious at times with 4 turnovers, he also grabbed 4 rebounds in 34 minutes of play in his first NBA start. Anthony Parker had 10 points and 3 rebounds while guarding Dwyane Wade. Roko Ukic came in and provided 4 assists as did Jamario Moon on an afternoon where the Raptors had 31 assists on 36 field goals. A very good game for the backups and perhaps we can rest Jose Calderon if he needs it as they both looked solid. Let's see if Roko can earn his stripes and score 15 points one night!

What can be said about the front line of this team that is adequate to describe what is happening right now? We have the franchise player keeping up with Dwyane Wade with Chris Bosh scoring 27 points while grabbing 7 rebounds to Dwyane's 29 points and 8 assists. Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal who had 11 points and 18 rebounds. What a game by the front court who out muscled and out played Udonis Haslem and Shawn Marion and Michael Beasley. Our front court out scored the Heat's total of Haslem, Marion Beasley and Joel Anthony who combined for 33 to Bosh, O'Neal, Andrea Bargnani and Kris Humphries total of 64. If you add Jason Kapono and Jamario Moon to the total, it becomes 82 of the 106 points from the active front! A very good game from the guards who moved the ball well and kept the Heat off-balance inside all afternoon.

A couple of concerns are the 92 shots the Raptors gave up, the 24 points off of turnovers they again gave up which is quickly becoming an area of huge concern. They were able to keep the Heat to 40% from the field which was a huge contributing factor to why this game ended with a solid win for this team. For the second game in a row the Raptors made it to the line more than their opponents with the Raptors taking 34 to the Heat's 15. To me, this means they were attacking the hoop and were rewarded with foul calls and hitting the line. Chris Bosh was 13 – 15, Hump was 4 - 5 and JO was 3 – 3 to lead the charge. I hope this becomes a recurring theme for this team.

This week we have a very busy week with a tour of Florida to take on the Magic and the Heat and then home for the Nets who are playing well so far. Should be a good week for this team. Let's hope Jose heels and returns 100%, but I am not as concerned about Will and Anthony and Roko as they looked better than replacements at times. Perhaps the playing time will give this team solid bench help down the stretch which was laking last season.

Posted on: November 14, 2008 9:55 am
 

Raptors - Heat Game Blog Preview

With Jose Calderon questionable for Sunday’s game against the Heat, Will Solomon and Roko Ukic will have to step up big time and play like they belong in the NBA. I think the fact that the Heat offer a back court of Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade. Chalmers is averaging 6.5 points per game and handing out 4.6 assists per game. Mario had 9 steals against the 76ers. Wade on the other hand is one of the premier off-guards in the league and has had 30+ points in his last 4 games and is averaging 28 points per game and 6 rebounds and nearly 8 assists. The pre-season line on this team was that it was ready to again move up the Eastern Conference with Shawn Marion up front along side the rookie Michael Beasley who brings his 16.4 points and 6 rebounds to the floor. With Marion nursing an injured groin and questionable for tonight’s game against the Wizards, I am not sure if he will be available to play Sunday. Tonight will be the third game he has missed. He has not played as well as we are used to with only 10 points per game this season but is always a force defensively that I am sure the Heat are missing right now. With Marion out, the Heat have started Yakhouba Diawara who has scored only 8 points in the 2 games. The front court is rounded out by Udonis Haslem and his 14 points 8 rebounds a game.

The Raptors will need to find a way to stop Dwyane Wade! I know that is no great revelation, but it is the truth. Without Jose bringing pressure from the back-court, this team will struggle to keep Wade on his heels. Our front court of Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Bosh with Andrea Bargnani off the bench should handle anything the Heat offer up front. I am worried about Beasley and his effectiveness off the dribble from any where in the front. This game will be won by solid team defense. Weak side awareness will be critical to keep Wade and Beasley from slashing us all day long. I look for our front court to have good games and need a complete game from guys like Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono who MUST play defensive ball. Pylon defense or relying on shot blocking will not contain these two very good ball players and with no Jose to bail them out from the outside, WHO will step up and lead this team? I wonder if Sam has considered starting Andrea at the 1 spot? Just kidding, but that would be interesting and we need a shake up at this point don’t we?

The fact is, this Raptors team has dreaded this idea all season and now is forced to play the hand they are dealt with no Jose Calderon in the lineup. This team is weak on the bench, weak on the outside both offensively and defensively and very thin at the guard position with Anthony Parker needing to step up Sunday and bring some scoring to the mix while trying to contain Dwyane Wade. That will be no easy task. Is this team up for the challenge? We shall see very quickly when the Heat come to town. Next week brings us the Magic and the blocking machine and probably the best Center in the league Dwight Howard, then we go to Miami to play the Heat again, then host Vince Carter and the Nets. With 4 games this week, our back court had better find a way to get the ball where it needs to go, the front court and play some defense. We need to get a handle on our offense and keep this season together while we adjust to the challenges shown so far this season.

Posted on: October 29, 2008 5:28 pm
 

Raptors 2008-09 Preview

Welcome to the 2008 - 09 NBA season! I trust the summer was too long and the Olympics a good preview to the upcoming season!

The Toronto Raptors head into the new season with hope and a belief that they can challenge in the Atlantic Conference. I will lay out what i believe are some of the good things they are anticipating, and a few apprehensions I feel at this point.

Here is the opening night roster:

7 Andrea Bargnani - PF
Chris Bosh - PF
43 Kris Humphries - PF 
21 Nathan Jawai - PF 
6 Jermaine O'Neal - PF
3 Hassan Adams - SF
14 Joey Graham - SF
24 Jason Kapono - SF
Jose Calderon - PG
5 Will Solomon - PG
33 Jamario Moon - SG
18 Anthony Parker - SG
1 Roko Ukic - SG

The first thing that strikes me is that they offer no true Center! i think that losing Rasho Nesterovic could be something that will haunt them down the road as they are left with a lot of PF's and no one who can bang underneath night after night! Jermaine O'Neal has the POTENTIAL to be the inside help that Chis Bosh has been waiting for, but we won't know that until we see how much and how intense he plays. He has battled the "great potential" tag his whole life and with the Pacers, he was stagnating! i hope that he can play to that potential we all saw his 2001-02 Most Improved Player year! At 30, life for a big man can become a series of aches and pains which we have seen. As much as i like the deal, i am a bit hesitant to say it was a great improvement over what we had! if he can play to his averages of 14.3 ppg and 7.7 rpg, he could fill the void in this talented Raptors front court!

Chris Bosh will mature even more this season and become a greater force as he edges his scoring and boards up, his team will rise the standings with him!

The tandem of Joey Graham and Jason Kapono have the potential to score from almost any part of the floor. The problem we ran into last year was a lack of commitment to outside defense! I am not sure that letting Carlos Delfino walk and bringing in Hassan Adams will help in either aspect, but we can only move on and see which of the 3 will step up and play some defense! I believe that the issue last season was a lack of intensity on defense from the front court including Chris Bosh, but for sure the perimeter defense let too many games slip by them and in the Atlantic Division this season, that won't be acceptable at all!

I would love to see Andrea Bargnani and Jamario Moon emerge as top level players and become 15 point 7 or 8 rebound a game guys which would see a huge increase in bench scoring or a more balanced starting 5 if Jamario and Anthony Parker platoon as they did last season. If Andrea struggles, i suspect he will become a failed experiment and i am sure there are teams that would love to have him wandering around the perimeter! With the wealth of PF's we have, he could be used to find another SF to shore up the perimeter.

With the offense now in the more than capable hands of Jose Calderon, the addition of Will Solomon could be a huge factor. He looks more than able to step in and run the show and should allow the Raptors an interesting up-tempo option off the bench with Moon, Joey Graham or Jason Kapono with Andrea cutting.

As i see this team at this point, there are many questions i find unanswered! I am not sure that they are a lot better than they were when the season ended in the spring, but the POTENTIAL to be better is left in the hands and hearts of this group of men. I think if Jermaine can play 70+ games, this team will win around 45 which is about what they won last year! The lack of true Center will hurt them in the Atlantic Division as they play teams like the Celtics with Kendrick Perkins and Glenn Davis - though both are undersized, they are very adequate playing and banging it out down low. the 76ers will offer Samuel Dalembert and the Nets will present the rookie Brook Lopez as well as Josh Boone. As the season plays out, I can see this team making a move for either a true post or a larger PF who can help O'Neal contend underneath. I think the SG position is very solid, and i think that the PG position could use another body.

SO, over all, i see the Raptors as a team that is unknown in a lot of areas with the loss of T.J. Ford and Carlos Delfino leaving holes that will be tough to fill. I also see potential as this team can now present a very solid front line of Chris Bosh, Jermaine O'Neal and Joey Graham or Jason Kapono. With Jose Calderon in the PG and either Moon or Parker, this team will be fun to watch! I see them ending up 2nd in this division with 47 wins. I see them 5th or 6th in the conference behind the Celtics, the Pistons, the Magic, and the Cavaliers. Tonight we shall see if Sam Mitchell is up to the task of guiding this team to play with their hearts.

Bring on the games!

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com