The road portion of Toronto’s season is over. Considering the lack of wins and the number of examples of terrible basketball early in the campaign, it went pretty quickly no? All that remains is Thursday’s meeting with New Jersey with lottery balls the only thing on the line. The game will be reminiscent of the Toronto-Miami matchup late in the pre-LeBron lottery year. The Raptors lost that game and ended up with the fourth pick instead of the fifth.
Some thoughts from the penultimate game of the year:
- Tough season for the Bucks. With a healthy Andrew Bogut they would have been a playoff team. I really like the move they made even though I’m not a big Monta Ellis guy. Ekpe Udoh is solid and Bogut never seems to be able to stay healthy. Now they can get value for either Ellis or Brandon Jennings down the line when they realize that that pairing simply cannot work.
- It was by no means Metta World Peace-esque, but DeMar DeRozan’s ejection was a little bit surprising. One thing he did a lot better this season than in the past was refuse to gripe about calls. In turn, he seemed to get a lot more respect from officials, who sent him to the line often, particularly in the second half of the season. He looked to legitimately travel on the play and then chucked the ball away. That’s likely the result of a long, frustrating season. He’s been here a while now and he’s lost more games in a couple of months in Toronto than he did in all his high school or college games.
- James Johnson continued his late surge with another good game. He was in a brutal slump after his disagreement with Dwane Casey and subsequent benching, but rebounded to close the season on a high note with a solid couple of weeks. The tough part for the Raptors, as was pointed out in the broadcast, is that Johnson seems to be at his best as a power forward. The team desperately needs a starting small forward (and a backup, though maybe a backup is no longer an issue thanks to the play of Alan Anderson) but is stacked with talent at power forward. Linas Kleiza also plays best as a power forward (a stretch four to be precise) so Bryan Colangelo surely will be busy this off-season clearing out his power forward logjam. Andrea Bargnani is the starter and nobody expects he’ll be going anywhere, but there isn’t enough room for Johnson, Kleiza, Amir Johnson and Ed Davis as well.
- The above has to rule out free agent to be Ersan Ilyasova as a fit in Toronto no?
- The word going around from Sacramento is that Tyreke Evans will be on the block this summer. He looked like a perennial all-star after his rookie of the year campaign, but fell off the next year due to reported weight issues and his numbers have slipped again as his role has decreased. Is he a fit in Toronto? Colangelo will be looking to add talent in a trade, but Evans and DeRozan are redundant, so DeRozan would have to go to make room. Toronto’s invested a few years now in DeRozan, he’s a good kid with no character issues. Would they gamble on a guy who has a much dicier rep who isn’t as hard a worker, even if he is a fair bit more talented? I’d doubt it.