In anticipation of the 2013-14 NBA season, Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose of Grantland.com have ranked all teams 30-1 for the month of October.
The series kicked off by placing the cellar-dwellers, no. 30 (Philadelphia) and no. 29 (Phoenix), as the two worst squads, deservedly.
Next to follow were safe-bets including no. 28 (Orlando), no. 27 (Utah), no. 26 (Charlotte), no. 25 (Sacramento) and no. 24 (Boston) as the bottom feeders.
The eight worst team in the league was a bit of a surprise. According to the Sports Guy and former NBA journeyman, no. 23 is drum roll…the Toronto Raptors!
Simmons is known for being “wildly opinionated” and it shows in his evaluation of Canada’s team.
First off, the basketball enthusiast and author nonsensically claims the Raptors are an afterthought in Toronto. He boasts that nobody really cares for the Raptors, and even if they were half decent, not a soul would care. Attendance reports over the past few years might not suggest so, but the Dino’s have always had a loyal fan base and are nationally followed.
In terms of assessing the future performance of Toronto, I don’t see how Simmons and Rose score teams like Milwaukee, Minnesota and Washington ahead. If you think Milwaukee’s overnight assembled core of Brandon Knight, O.J. Mayo, Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova and Caron Butler is more intimidating than Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas and Kyle Lowry then you need to check your facts. Minnesota upgraded in the off-season, but their success hinges on Ricky Rubio’s fibreglass knee and their uninterested All-Star power forward. Washington is definitely a team on the rise, but I still can’t trust John Wall just yet.
The two also suggested that Gay will undoubtedly be traded, Simmons even suggesting before the Feb. 20 deadline (Milwaukee and Boston as possible destinations). Sports Guy is convinced that new GM Masai Ujiri wants to rebuild through the draft since a postseason appearance remains an effort in futility. While Ujiri’s regime has yet to declare officially if Gay is a cornerstone of the franchise, an extension can’t be ruled out. The 27-year-old could very well return to his 2010/11 Memphis form wherehe averaged an impressive 19.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.1 blocks and a .471 FG %. Gay is also entering the prime of his career and is easily a top-10 small-forward in the league. For all we know, management is convincedthat tanking is unforeseeable and a core of Valanciunas, DeRozan and Gay is appealing both short and long-term.
I did appreciate Simmons and Rose’s high regard of GM Masai Ujiri along with their affection for Toronto’s diverse metropolis and vibrant nightlife (Rose was particularly fond of King St). Nevertheless, this projection seems a bit unwarranted. I personally see Toronto as a seventh/eight seed in the Eastern Conference. The team has a burgeoning young centre, athletic wings, an improved bench and full season to integrate new acquisitions from last year. Certainly, the Raptors are at least in the no. 15 – no. 20 range.
Here is the full video: