Couldn't agree more. Berman is one of the top 10 (wait...let's double check ESPN's roster...), top 5 talents ESPN has. In fact, I propose a White House petition to bring back, back, back, back, back the Berman/Jackson NFL Primetime.
Raptors Overall Team Grade
They needed to begin preparations for life post-Bosh and that is exactly what they accomplished through this draft. Toronto picked a pair of big guys who were sliding lower than expected but can bring some defense and rebounding to the frontcourt. The question is, how much will they contribute in their rookie seasons? (Grade: A)
13. Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina
Huge get for the Raptors who needed to land a Chris Bosh replacement. Davis is a great value at this point and can bring some athleticism and shot blocking to the post which will be a nice complement to the perimeter-based Andrea Bargnani. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT)
50. Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State
Here's what I don't get, how a guy who was supposed to go in the early 20s falls all the way to No. 50. Toronto was so high on Alabi that they actually tried moving into the late first round to get him so they are probably doing backflips that they were able to get him for a future second-rounder and cash. Yes, he is still a work in progress but a tremendous value this low. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT)
2009-10 Season Summary:
Last offseason, the Raptors made several major moves in hopes of not only improving their roster, but as a sign to Chris Bosh that the franchise was serious about surrounding him with winning talent so that he would not flee Toronto this offseason. They brought in Hedo Turkuglu and Jarrett Jack for long-term deals, used their lottery pick on the athletic DeMar DeRozan, and added several other new faces as well. However, the Raptors did not become the team management had hoped and are now likely to lose their star power forward in what will be a very critical couple of months.
The Raptors did improve by seven games this past season with their revamped roster, but a five-game losing streak late in the year caused them to finish one game behind the Bulls for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Bosh is not to blame as he put together his best statistical season as a pro. It was the pieces around Bosh that failed.
Turkoglu was a shell of the player he was in Orlando, and was even benched late in the season. Jack was productive in his first year with the Raptors, but it was the other point guard, Jose Calderon who struggled to acclimate himself to his new backcourt mates. Depth was also an area of concern as there was a major dropoff in talent when the second string was on the floor. Now Toronto faces a serious uphill challenge this summer and risks becoming one of the bottom feeders in the league if, as expected, they cannot convince Bosh to continue calling Canada home.
2010-11 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Andrea Bargnani/David Andersen/Solomon Alabi
PF: Amir Johnson/Reggie Evans/Ed Davis/Dwayne Jones
SF: DeMar DeRozan/Linas Kleiza/Julian Wright
SG: Leandro Barbosa/Sonny Weems
PG: Jarrett Jack/Jose Calderon/Marcus Banks
NBA Free Agents:
C Rasho Nesterovic (UFA)
PF Joey Dorsey (UFA)
2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $57.4 million
2010-11 League Salary Cap: $58 million
Raptors acquire SF Julian Wright from Hornets for SG Marco Belinelli
Raptors acquire C David Andersen from Raptors for 2nd round pick and cash considerations
Raptors sign SF Linas Kleiza to 4-year, $18.8 million deal
Raptors sign PF Amir Johnson to 5-year, $34 million deal
Raptors acquire C Solomon Alabi (50th pick) from Dallas for Cash Considerations
Raptors acquire two 2011 1st round picks from Miami for PF Chris Bosh
Raptors acquire SG Leandro Barbosa from Phoenix for F Hedo Turkoglu
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. Get something for Bosh- It appears imminent that Bosh is not going to be wearing a Raptors uniform next season. Toronto risks losing him via free agency this offseason to one of the numerous teams with tons of cap space, but must try to work out a sign-and-trade deal to re-load on some talent rather than losing him for nothing. The Raptors are actually in a bit of a power position since they can offer Bosh more money and a longer contract than any other team in the league. The Olympic gold medalist is reportedly in favor of this scenario so he can maximize his profits. Now the issue becomes finding a suitor for Bosh's services (New York, Chicago, Miami, and the Lakers are his reported finalists with Toronto also on the list.) If the Raptors cannot do so and Bosh signs elsewhere as a free agent, the franchise will be in serious need of a star and do not have the cap space to bring in a major talent. That is why it is essential they work out a sign-and-trade to get something in return for their star.
2. Size- Even if Bosh does somehow miraculously end up in Toronto next season, the team will need to add a true big man. Andrea Bargnani is a perimeter-based post player who is far from a physical, rebounding force, while their only other inside player, Reggie Evans is an undersized four. The need for size quadruples if Bosh ends up signing elsewhere. The Raptors have the 13th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, which is loaded with post players, and will also have about $8 million in cap space to find a suitable replacement for Bosh while adding some size.
3. Hedo's Happiness- Turkoglu spurned a seemingly set offer to sign with Portland and instead chose to come to Toronto where he felt he and his wife would be happier due to it being more of a foreign feel. FAIL. Turkoglu failed to be the missing piece that would vault the team into top of the Eastern Conference picture and only scored more than 20 points three times during the season. That certainly was not the return investment the Raptors were hoping for when they gave him a 5-year, $53 million deal last summer. The Raptors must find a way to make Turkoglu happy this offseason while the Turkish small forward must start living up to the contract he signed. If this does not happen, his contract will quickly become one of the worst in the NBA.