No media outlet has predicted a playoff appearance this season by the Toronto Raptors. It’s either been around the same, or worse in terms of placement in the East. I don’t understand the basis on those conclusions, however it’s not the first time that ESPN and co have been somewhat ignorant towards the Raps.
There’s a lot of reasons to believe improvement is imminent for this team. I’m going to go ahead and scratch the surface in explaining why a playoff appearance is a probability this season.
5. Rookie Development
Jonas Valanciunas has finally been exposed to the world. It’s fair to assume that he will start to hold his own this year, and those rookie mistakes will be minimized.
Then there’s Terrence Ross, who comes into this season with very low expectations. I personally think that he will be able to surprise some, and once he gets more comfortable with his role, gets consistent minutes, and let’s his game come to him, he will be a solid, not spectacular option.
4. Closing Games/Luck
This team had quite a lot go wrong last season. I’m too lazy to go through every lead they blew, every game they lost by less than 5 points, every injury they had, but you get the point. Also, it’s unlikely that the Raptors get off to another 4-19 start.
Another one that’s quite self explanatory. We haven’t seen a full season with the new core, and I really think as this team continues to mesh, mistakes will start to minimize. The offense will flow, players will know their spots defensively, and defensive rotations will continue to improve. Additionally, the bench has been filled out much better. Players such as Steve Novak and Tyler Hansbrough should be able to fit in quite well with the current squad.
Dwane Casey was quite awful at times last season. Rotations, offensive play-calling, and timeout management barely scratch the surface when it comes to Casey’s deficiencies. However, he’s acknowledged that he’s still learning as a coach, and he’ll continue to get a better hang of his roster. Plus, Alan Anderson & John Lucas III are gone.
1. Rudy Gay & Kyle Lowry
The Raptors’ two best players had pretty bad years for their standards. Rudy was playing on a bad back, had poor vision, and was acquired with less than half a season remaining. Lowry was out of shape, banged up, and missed a large portion of the season due to nagging injuries.
This offseason, Gay got laser eye surgery, put on mass to prevent injury, and looks like he’s ready for a full season with the Raps. Lowry lost some weight, and is coming into a contract year. Expect these two to carry the Raps this year.