New York Knicks (0-0) VS Toronto Raptors (0-0) @ Air Canada Centre on TSN2, 7:00 PM ET
Line: NYK by 1
O/U Season Wins: 26.5
Reason to watch: The Raps kick off their season against the new and improved division rival the New York Knicks. Toronto, as you’re well aware of, has lost all star forward Chris Bosh and officially marks a new era for the Raptors, the Andrea Bargnani era. The No.1 pick in the 2006 draft averaged 17.2 ppg with Chris Bosh receiving a heavy amount attention from opposing teams defenses. With Bargnani presumably being the focal point off the Raps offense, “Il Mago” needs to prove he’s ready to handle the pressure on the court, but step up and be a leader for the team with toughness and (maybe finally) emotion.
While point guard is the Raps deepest position, it also has the most question marks. As we enter year two of the Jose Calderon/Jarrett Jack debate, well see if either can finally elavate their game and provide Toronto with solid point play thats been missing since the Alvin Williams days.
At shooting guard, a lot of Raps fans eyes will be on the development of DeMar DeRozan, the 9th pick in the ’09 draft had a great Summer League and pre-season and hopefully develops in to a constant number two scoring option this season. The 21 year old had 8.6 ppg in 09-10 and if he can get that up to around 18 ppg it should go long way and it’s not like the opportunities won’t be there for him.
If DeRozan does not pan out the Raps have Leandro Barbosa, whom was aquired in the Hedo trade this summer, is a streaky scorer and is only three season removed from averaging 18 ppg. There’s no reason to think the 27 year old Barbosa can’t average those numbers again. Just that the 6-3 Barbosa is a defensive reliability relative to the 6-7 DeRozan.
Linas Kleiza will be starting at small forward, spent last season in Europe, he tore up the World Championships for Lithuania averaging 19.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg and 1.4 apg. While Kleiza might turn out to be the steal of the year, it’s important not to get too excited about Kleiza’s summer considering Carlos Arroyo at points has torn up International tournaments with little transition to the NBA game. Interesting fact, in 2005 draft the Trailblazers took Kleiza with the 27th pick, then dealt that pick to the Nuggets for Jarrett Jack.
At the power forward spot is the Raps we’ll call it guts and glory spot. The four spot will be a battle all season between Amir Johnson and Reggie Evans, in a position that will be strictly for playing tough hard nose defense and grabbing rebounds. Johnson probably gets the edge in this one cause he’s got the trust of coach Triano from last season, plus he’s younger with more of offensive weapons.
The Raptors should be a fun team to watch, albeit extremely frustrating at times cause of the youth on the team. But under Triano the effort should always be there with this group. If the Raps can avoid major slumps like last year there’s no reason they can squeeze into 8th place in the Eastern Conference