Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thoughts On the Raptors Before Training Camp

The new NBA season is almost here, so I thought I'd share some initial thoughts I had about the Raptors with all of you. Keep in mind, all of these feelings will probably change by the time the first pre-season game rolls around, but that's just because loving the Raptors is a roller coaster of pain.

The Bosh and JO tandem is going to be money. Bosh is coming off a stellar Olympics where he emerged as one of the best defensive players for the US, and led them in rebounding. While this doesn't sound like much, I honestly believe that excelling in the Olympics does carryover to the NBA (Manu wasn't central to the Spurs until he made the leap with Argentina).

I think JO is about to pull a Randy Moss-esque resurgence. Personally, I think he may have shut it down the last couple of seasons when he realized that Jamal Tinsley and Marquis Daniels were better at handling firearms then they were at ball handling. Whlie that sounds like as shocking lack of heart on JO's part, its okay as the Raptors are Bosh's team, and JO just needs to come here and do his job (shotblocking, helpside D, rebounding).

JO needs to hold up, his presence let's the Raptors start the Pylon known as Kapono. Now, Kapono can at least play slow white guy body up defense because he knows that he has a ton of weakside and frontside help in either JO or Bosh. If Smitch can get his defensive rotations down, then the Raps will be one of the best defensive teams in the East.

I can't make a prediction on where they could finish because I honestly think they could end up anywhere between 2 and 6 for sure, and if Boston gets nicked up, I would say 1 through 6 is a possibilitiy. For now, I am looking forward to them being a one of the elite teams in the East, and that's my expectation.

Here is my BOLD prediction for the season. The Raptors are going to start incorporating a lot of fast break elements into their offense. I make this prediction based on 3 major factors. 1) By having Bosh and JO, the Raptors should dominate their own boards, freeing Jose, AP, Moon, Kapono, etc to take off once the the rebound has been corralled. 2) Great defensive teams ALWAYS fast break, look at Boston last year and some of the previous Spurs teams. Being great at defense means that you want to be on defense more often, which means that you want to push your own offensive pace (while slowing down the other team). 3) If the Raptors are serious about keeping JO healthy, they can't let him get pounded on in the half court on offense. JO has a certain number of miles left, they can't be wasted on offense.

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