Raptors: Thoughts from a lost season
By Sports Network
|Toronto Raptors Ed Davis and Solomon Alabi leave the game after their loss to the Miami Heat during in their NBA basketball game in Toronto, April 13, 2011. (REUTERS/Mark Blinch)
With a bad loss to a Miami Heat team that decided to sit LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Toronto Raptors' 2010-11 season officially came to a close.
Toronto finished with just 22 wins, the third lowest amount in franchise history, and even though the team's general inexperience, as being the second youngest team in the league, and injuries played key roles in its misfortune, a 59-loss campaign is still unacceptable and people will need to be held accountable.
The clear choice in this matter is head coach Jay Triano. Ever since taking over from Sam Mitchell in 2008, Triano has never made the postseason and has amassed a dismal 87-141 record.
It's evident that a change along the sidelines is needed as there have been many cases this season when the Raptors had a chance to win late or come up with a key play out of a timeout and failed to do so. Some of those moments were due to inept execution but more often than not it was Triano's play that didn't give the players a chance to succeed.
Even his greatest strength as a motivator started losing its edge since he let subordination from Julian Wright slide during a 138-100 drubbing at the hands of the Golden State Warriors on Mar. 25.
Triano had opportunities in the past to prove that he can win with a couple teams that should've made the playoffs. Even though it's unfair for him to be let go after coaching a team that everyone knew was going to lose, it isn't like he didn't get a shot to prove his mettle, and it would be a total shocker to see him patrolling the Raptors' sideline again next season.
Another man who could potentially be out of Toronto is Bryan Colangelo. The team's president and general manager has been hailed as a genius in the front office and at times that is true as he's managed to get out of the terrible contracts of Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Kapono as well as come away with a steal by acquiring James Johnson for only a late first rounder.
With that being said, Colangelo really hasn't done the greatest of jobs. Most of the moves he's made have been to correct prior mistakes.
The rumor that'll most likely dominate anything Raptor-related this summer of Andrea Bargnani being on the move shows that the Toronto GM is looking to end his experiment with the seven footer.
Bargnani just recently enjoyed his best NBA season, putting up career highs in points and minutes played, and despite that, there's a chance he could be traded, meaning that Colangelo might be admitting that he'll never be the player that his first overall selection in 2006 suggested he'd be.
While it's a good thing to see a GM willing to identify and correct any errors that he's made, Colangelo may have made too many and, with his contract expiring, it wouldn't be surprising to see MLSE choose not to re-sign him. Shifting focus to the players,
Toronto has a pretty good looking young core developing with the likes of DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis, James and Amir Johnson and Jerryd Bayless
DeRozan's improvement from his rookie season to this one has been fun to watch and he can only get better moving forward, giving the Raps a potential star in the making. If not for Blake Griffin's rookie year for the ages, it could be argued that Davis would be competing with DeMarcus Cousins for the honor of being the best first-year forward.
The Johnsons both give the Raps much needed toughness and when you combine them with Davis you get one of the most athletic front lines in the league. Finally, even though Bayless doesn't quite look like starting material, Toronto would be foolish to let go of him as he would be an excellent sixth- man type of player thanks to his streaky shooting and scorer mentality.
What the Raptors will most need to make this group work is a legitimate starting point guard. Jose Calderon looks like he might be on his last legs as all those summers playing on the Spanish national team seem to have caught up with him.
The team will have a great opportunity to find his replacement this summer as it will most likely have a top-five pick in the draft and, if the ping pong balls fall in the right way, it could get a chance to make Kyrie Irving of Duke the lead guard of the future.
As disappointing as the 2010-11 campaign has been, it's nice to know that there's at least a glimmer of hope. There's no guarantee that next season (if there even is one) the Raptors will make the playoffs but at the very least, the team should be expected to play better.