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From the Depths of the Eastern Conference, Will The Toronto Raptors Rise to Glory?


PhilBoxing.com




Toronto, Canada - Since the departure of former Raptor Chris Bosh who was the franchise player for eight long years, it has been a challenging time for the only NBA team that resides north of the U.S. border. In the post Chris Bosh era, the rebuilding Toronto Raptors has performed much like an expansion team, players acquisitions have been a revolving door for the last couple of years while the team struggles to identify who the “go to guy” is who will bear the torch when it comes to gaming changing clutch plays and money shots that can win games. With 12 wins and 22 losses, it has been mostly a disappointing season thus far for The Raptors. It’s a new year and it is gut check time as there will be many things on the line for this team with it’s current state of affairs and many lack lustre performances that has unfolded whether the Raptors play at home or away. The winds of change is blowing on the “work in progress” and “rebuilding” status of this team, it’s make or break it time!

One thing that the Raptors has going for it is it’s youth and promising young players, but need for more player development, veteran leadership along with solid coaching and management what the Raptors needs to get this team out of the bottom of the Eastern Conference Standings.

The Raptors has a trend to lose its momentum in the third quarter and as the game goes deeper, it falls apart and breakdown in the forth quarter, especially in the closing minutes of the game. The Raptors endured a 11 game losing streak early this season. A moral collapse to any team, hopefully that is the lowest point that the Raptors will endure this season as it can only get better as the team went on a five game winning streak even with a couple of it’s starters sidelined with injuries.

On paper, The Toronto Raptors are suppose to be a better than average team, with the likes of coach Dwayne Casey at the helm, he was the former assistant coach freshly recruited from the Dallas Mavericks when they won it all. Then you have the former number one draft pick Andrea Bargnani, the seven foot tall and lanky Italian forward who was suppose to be the second coming of Dirk Nowitski. At the point guard, you have the longest serving current franchise player Jose Calderone, the unselfish Spanish guard, perhaps the unofficial team captain who keeps the team together and can distribute the ball as well as any other point guard in the NBA. Keep in mind that The Raptors actually have two first string point guards with the addition of the young Ken Lowry who is younger, quicker and can score more than Calderon, picked up from Houston last summer. At the swingman position you have the flamboyant and acrobatic DeMar DeRozan who has made the highlight reel time and time again. There is a variety of core players here that needs to step up on a consistent basis if the Raptors want to prove that they can win and even be considered as a playoff worthy team.

The Toronto Raptor’s depth is supposed to be addressed by quality reserves along with a youth movement who has been drafted, groomed and developed within the team for a couple of years now. Such promising names such Amir Johnson, Linas Kleiza, Landry Fields, Alan Anderson and high draft picks such as Ed Davis, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross. The lack of consistency from the youth and reserves has been a disappointment on many occasions, although there has been a few signs of promise coming of the bench and from it’s younger members. The Raptor reserves has not been consistent to the point that many winnable games has been lost, this is a team that has problems closing out games in the dying moments of the forth quarter.

The Toronto Raptors definitely has the potential talent backed up with a couple of 10 million dollar players and the youth movement that backs it up to be a contender. After playing 34 games this season thus far, the team has been plagued with player injuries who play in the first string and key positions. The Toronto Raptors while looking good on paper continues to struggle at the bottom tier of the Eastern Conference Standings. Will this season be another disappointing season or does the recent five game win streak last month finally shows the light at the end of the dark tunnel The Raptors need to climb out of?

Many words comes to mind to describe The Toronto Raptors whose wins are unpredictable and losses can streak into multiple games that hurts this team in the standings. Is it a lack of mental toughness? Does the team have the proper coaching and executes the right plays late in the game? Who is the go to guy who can deliver clutch plays and sink in money shots that can steal a game? Is it the lack of hunger and the lack to strive for excellence? Is it the lack of self confidence and team chemistry? Can Brian Colangelo actually build a contender after all these years as the Raptors General Manager or is he suited more for building a basketball team for the Euroleague?

The Raptors has been around since 1995 and has had a couple of years to rebuild, what will it take to make the Toronto Raptors a winner, a contender and serious threat in the NBA?

Philboxing.com takes a look at the key components of this team and how it can raise the bar and bring winning back to Toronto “The Good”

To be continued in Part 2 ...


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Rob Cruz.


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