9. DeMar DeRozan, SG, USC
The Raptors desperately need a wing player with some athleticism so DeRozan is a great pick. I was cool on DeRozan earlier in the year, but he impressed me as he picked up his play towards the end of the season. (Pick Grade: Makes Sense)
2009 NBA Offseason Transactions:
Nuggets sign SF Joey Graham
Rockets sign C Pops Mensa-Bonsu
Bucks acquire G/F Carlos Delfino and PG Roko Ukic from Raptors for PF Amir Johnson and SG Sonny Weems
Raptors acquire SG Marco Belinelli from Warriors for SF Devean George
Raptors sign C Rasho Nesterovic
Raptors sign PG Jarrett Jack
Raptors acquire PF Hedo Turkoglu, SG Antoine Wright and SF Devean George for SF Shawn Marion, PF Kris Humphries, C Nathan Jawai
Raptors exercise option on C Patrick O'Bryant
2008-09 Season Summary:
Last year was a rough one for "Canada's Team," eh? The Toronto Raptors front office thought they significantly improved a playoff team this past off-season when they made a blockbuster trade for Jermaine O'Neal. Despite O'Neal's arrival and much improved play from former #1 overall draft choice Andrea Bargnani, the Raptors were bad. They started 8-9 which cost Coach Sam Mitchell his job. Replacement and long-time assistant Jay Triano (who was already given a three-year extension since the season ended) tweaked the starting line-up, but the Raptors fell to 21-34 by the All-Star break. In a move mainly to help Toronto shed some salary, the dealt O'Neal and Jamario Moon to Miami for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. Still, the Raptors were eliminated from playoff contention with seven games left.
The Raptors now face a potential overhaul in their core: Marion (who has possibly the ugliest looking shot in all of basketball) will likely leave via free agency; Bosh could become one after 2009-10 and will be the topic of numerous trade rumors this off-season; and Bargnani may have to take on a much larger role after his breakthrough season.
2009-10 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Andrea Bargnani/Rasho Nesterovic/Patrick O'Bryant
PF: Chris Bosh/Reggie Evans/Amir Johnson
SF: Hedo Turkoglu
SG: Antoine Wright/DeMar DeRozan/Marco Belinelli/Quincy Douby/Sonny Weems
PG: Jose Calderon/Jarrett Jack/Marcus Banks
NBA Free Agents:
C Jake Voshkul (UFA)
SF Joey Graham (RFA)
PF Nathan Jawai (TO)*
2009-10 Team Salary: Approximately $45.7 million
2009-10 Expected League Salary Cap: $57.3 million
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. Defense or "Defence" as they say up North - When you give up almost 130 to the New York Knicks, in the midst of a seven game losing streak, its safe to say opposing offenses are not intimidated by you. Upon getting eliminated for the postseason, Triano said "It's just a toughness thing... There's an old saying that you 'fake it until you make it.' If you're not tough, you can go out there and pretend you're tough long enough until people start believing you. It's amazing how many times something like that will actually scare people or deter people." The Atlantic division is not very scared right now, especially with the Raptors lack of an inside presence. While they do have Bosh and Bargnani, neither player can bang down low and be that physical intimidator need in Toronto.
2. Wings needed to Fly in Air Canada Centre - Since the first round of the 2008 playoffs, when Toronto was eliminated by Orlando in five games, it's been pretty clear that the Raptors' biggest weakness is on the wings. They need an athletic scorer at this position who can take it to the hole and should look to fill this void with their lottery pick.
3. Augmenting the Fastbreak - Given the Raptors' perpetual inability to win close games and hold on to leads, they should be all about (that's pronounced "a-boot" in Ontario) bringing in more speed and athleticism to improve the category in which Toronto was dead last when Triano took over the team. They did improve quite a bit, but still have a ways to go.