Toronto Sports Media Game of the Night

New York Knicks (0-0) VS Toronto Raptors (0-0) @ Air Canada Centre on TSN2, 7:00 PM ET

Line: NYK by 1

Total: 213.5

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

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Raptors Devotee
October 27, 2010 6:09 pm

Sonny, I am not quite sure what you expect out of Bargnani, but to expect him to be a leader on this team is not happening now, next year, the year after that, the year after that, and we can go on an on.

Additionally, to expect him to show more emotion on the floor and in the locker room is also not part of his makeup. Yes, he for the first time did not sit in the front of the bus or plane or wherever he was, and not sit with the coaches, and yes, he is attempting to mix more with his teamates, but it is a quantum leap for an introverted person like Bargs to become the focal point of this team both on the floor and in a leadership role.

As far as toughness goes, he just does not have that either, and can’t develop it. He is a 7+ footer with a sometimes working outside shot who plays on the perimeter, where he is comfortable, and has as of yet not developed a sufficient post game, and on defence, his so called help defence is still non-existant.

I am fine with Bargs the way he is. Let him put up some decent offensive numbers, and suck on the defensive end while we develop some other young players and hopefully get a top 3 draft pick for next year.

Jack is a decent back-up point guard, and Calderon is not even worthy of the ‘D’ league the way he is operating now, between injuries.

DeRozen is going to be a functional player at best, and I have seen enough of him to see his limitations. He still has some more upside, but not enough to put this team over the top.

We have a bunch of players who are interchangeable and will compete for minutes the whole year. O.K. for depth, but depth does not win in the NBA, talent does, of which we are sorely lacking.

This team making the playoffs? Yes, there is a big drop-off between the have’s and the have not’s, but the Raptors are basically a bunch of scrub players, who in reality none of them are worthy of a starting position on a contending team. The worst thing the Raps could do is get the 8th playoff spot to be swept by the Heat and get a lousy draft choice. No reason why they can’t play exciting entertaining up and down ball while losing the way we need them to. After 15 years I am tired of mediocrity. Our only hope is to get an impact player in the draft.

Had the Charlotte trade gone through I could see us making some noise, but it didn’t, and as a result my expectations have been tempered significantly.

It will be a long season, but one that can set us up for the future with a draft pick and using our trade exception.

Raptors Devotee
October 27, 2010 7:04 pm

Wow, am I shocked. The Raps threw Bargs out there to talk to the crowd before the pre-game introductions. This could not have been the introverted Bargnani’s idea, and the Raps are desperately trying to put him in a role that he certainly in the Bosh era has shied away from.

October 28, 2010 1:51 pm

I agree. Bargs is an introverted mellow laid back guy.
That’s his DNA and it aint gonna change on this team. Maybe on another established storied franchise he would change, but not here. Why didn’t Colangelo do a psyche test on him before the draft. It would have been obvious to anybody spending 10 minutes with the guy that he was a “aw shucks it don’t matter” type. We coulda had brandon roy

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