The Raptors Are On Fire, But Is This A Mirage?

Andrea Bargnani is the new face of the Raptors franchise.

by Armaan Ahluwalia
The Toronto Raptors are starting to get things going after a pathetic start to the 10/11 season. The Raptors started the season with a 2-9 record before going on a 4 game win streak.

The unexpected play of Andrea Bargnani has been amazing for the Raptors. He received a lot of criticism during the offseason when Bosh left saying that he has not lived up to his #1 pick standards and is not a leader.

Well he has silenced half of those comments; his play has been great as he is scoring close to 24 points a night. Without Bosh Bargnani has become a threat to many teams and has showed the “Dirk” like play using his height to his advantage. Whether he has become a leader remains to be decided, I think he likes to “lead by example”. This is a fine way but sometimes its good to have a verbal leader on the court.

Well leading by example has been done by no other than Reggie Evans. Evans has become born again in TO and will look to keep up with his great performances. He recently had 22 rebounds in a dominant victory over the 76ers. His ability to fight for the ball on rebounds has been key for the Raptors who have started to depend on his great ability. Evans has been huge and will continue to dominate with his aggressive rebounding

One player who has been quiet but still good is DeMar DeRozen. The second year player from USC has been good this year. He has seen an increase in his minutes of play and in turn has raised his points per game as well. Look for DeRozen to contribute solid minutes to the Raptors as they get better game by game.

Let’s be honest, no one expected the Raptors to win many games this year at all. With the departure of Chris Bosh to South Beach the team lacked star talent. Bosh was the star player and the franchise, when he left there was nothing left. Bryan Colangelo took a lot of harsh criticism for letting the superstar go, and getting nothing in return for it.

After leaving Phoenix a few years ago, Colangelo has seen little success in Canada’s biggest city. His consistent want to add European players has turned out badly. Now don’t misread me and think I hate European players that is not true, just the ones that Colangelo has brought in have had minimal effects.

The one exception being Calderon who has been good at best when he is healthy. Then there was this offseason where he was unable to land any big trades. They all prematurely broke and were then unsuccessful.

There have been some positive results as the Raptors went out and pursued straight up athletes. This has shown with their energy on the court and relentless way to grind out games. People expected this as the youthful additions were a breath of fresh air in TO. This being said, with young guys you usually don’t get very good basketball players with skill. This has also shown this year with their lack of wins and large amounts of losses.

The additions of Leandro Barbosa was a good piece to add as the speedy Brazilian was itching to start somewhere in the league. The Drafting of Ed Davis from UNC will be a good pick down the road as an injury has put him out until now where he will begin training with the D-League team to get his stamina up to par. Solomon Alabi was the other drafted player coming out of Florida State, this guy is big standing at 7’1 this guy is a down the road prospect who could become something useful to the Raps. Joey Dorsey the 2nd year player is also new this year and will see minimal minutes this season. Also new to the team Linas Kleiza who played with Denver for a few seasons had a good FIBA Championship and has already he will be strong for the team this year. Julian Wright came over from New Orleans and has had a minimal effect as he will be a bench sub at best.

Recently added to the team this year was Peja Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless who come from New Orleans from a 5 player swap.

This is a cap move as Peja’s contract is set to expire at the end of the year and Bayless is a young player who could be helpful down the road. In this trade the Raptors got rid of inconsistent guard Jarrett Jack and Chris Andersen. Jack was good but Colangelo felt Calderon and Barbosa would be good enough.

This Raptors team is full of athletes and height. Their roster’s smallest player is listed at 6-3 and their tallest is at 7-1. With some young players this team could be one that many will not want to play down the stretch. This team holds some promise but making the playoffs will be a stretch.

The next few games for the Raptors are as follows: @Boston, Atlanta, Washington, OKC, New York, @Indiana, @New York, Denver, @Detroit, Chicago, New Jersey, LA Lakers, Detroit which takes them to the Christmas Break. I expect the Raptors to get to 7-6 in that time period. Don’t be surprised if the Raptors come out and beat some of these teams and go 10-3, it is stretch but it could happen.

Who knows where the Raptors season will go, whether they will make the playoffs or not. One thing is for sure it’s taken quite a bit of work to get them where they are. Is Bryan Colangelo doing a good job? Well the results have been far and few for sure. So where is the recent success coming from? Well let’s not forget Jay Triano, the coach has had very little to work with and still manages to make results happen. It seems like the Raptors are heading in the right direction. The one problem with the Franchise is that they are never able to keep players north of the border for longer than a season. This is their main problem keeping their core players together to build chemistry. If they can do this the Raptors will have no problem becoming a success in this league.

Armaan Ahluwalia is a writer with the Dal Gazette and Follow him on twitter @therealbrindian.

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