I'll never understand what Walt has against the Jags. I'm not even a Jags fan, but it seems like every chance he get to talk @#$@ about them or one of their players, he takes it. I saw first hand this year the Telvin Smith is all over the field, when my Ravens played the Jags. Bortles may have been a tad high, but he was also second in the league in TD passes last year.
8. Terrence Ross, G, Washington: C+ Grade
This is definitely a reach for Terrence Ross, but he and DeMar DeRozan provide the Raptors with a ton of athleticism on the wing. He may not be as sexy a name as Austin Rivers, but Ross should be a solid pro due to his ability to get to the basket and smooth outside shot.
37. Quincy Acy, F, Baylor: Grade D+
Acy is a strong, hard-working, though undersized, power forward. That could maybe allow him to stick on a NBA roster, but I can't see him cracking the Raptors' rotation anytime soon.
56. Tomislav Zubcic, F, Croatia: C Grade
The Raptors had three picks in this draft, so it makes sense to take one foreign guy who might contribute down the line.
*** 2012 NBA Offseason Needs and Free Agents listed below this comment box. ***
2011-12 Season Summary:
The Raptors weren't expected to do much this year, and they were as bad as advertised. Their struggles were magnified as Andrea Bargnani struggled to stay on the court due to injury. Prior to going down, the former No. 1 overall pick was playing at an All-Star level and actually gave some effort on the defensive end. That left Toronto with a very thin, underwhelming collection of frontcourt players, forcing head coach Dwayne Casey to start Aaron Gray for 40 games. (Yuck.)
The backcourt took a hit as well as Jerryd Bayless missed half of the season due to injury and bench scorer Leandro Barbosa was sent to Indiana at the trade deadline. That put a lot of pressure on DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon. DeRozan took a step back after a breakout sophomore campaign while Calderon was effective though continues to play below the lofty salary he is receiving.
There is a mixed-bag reaction regarding the rest of the Raptor roster. James Johnson's athleticism and versatility make him a valuable contributor and somebody who should continue to develop. On the other hand, Ed Davis suffered though a bit of a sophomore slump when the team needed him to emerge with Bargnani out of the lineup. The overpaid Amir Johnson and Linas Kleiza serve their respective roles, but really shouldn't be relied upon as valuable pieces for the future.
With last year's first-round pick, Jonas Valanciunas, another lottery selection in the 2013 NBA Draft, and a good amount of cap space to be active in free agency; the Raptors are in a position to add some talented pieces to become a more competitive team next season.
C: Jonas Valanciunas/*Solomon Alabi
PF: Andrea Bargnani/Amir Johnson/Ed Davis
SF: James Johnson/Linas Kleiza/Gary Forbes/*Alan Anderson
PG: Jose Calderon/*Jerryd Bayless
NBA Free Agents:
*PG-Jarryd Bayless (RFA)
*C-Solomon Alabi (RFA)
*SF-Alan Anderson (RFA)
*G-Ben Uzoh (RFA)
C-Aaron Gray (UFA)
C-Jamaal Magloire (UFA)
2012-13 Team Salary: Approximately $41 million
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. Perimeter Complement for DeRozan:
DeMar DeRozan and James Johnson bring plenty of length and athleticism to Toronto's wing, but neither guy shoots it well from downtown. The other options are OK, but I certainly think finding an upgrade at small forward is a necessity. They should target a couple players with their lottery pick (Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes, Jeremy Lamb) who would fill this need.
2. Valanciunas Time:
The arrival of Jonas Valanciunas is already incredibly hyped among the Raptor fan base. The entire basketball world will get a chance to see what the buzz is all about this summer when he plays for Lithuania in the Olympics. Due to his size, agility and experience playing at a high level overseas, Valanciunas is expected to make an immediate impact providing Toronto with a true banger to complement the more skilled, perimeter-oriented Andrea Bargnani. There will likely be a transition period for Valanciunas as he acclimates himself to the NBA game, but his addition will be highly anticipated.
3. Point Guard:
If the team re-signs Jerryd Bayless, this does not become a pressing need. However, if Bayless is not brought back, the Raptors will be searching for a point guard especially since Jose Calderon will be entering the final year of his contract.
4. Be Frugal:
Despite what GM Bryan Colangelo might think, Toronto is not a hot spot destination for marquee NBA free agents. Depending on what happens with Bayless, the Raptors could have around $10 million in cap space to spend in free agency. Colangelo has overpaid to be bring in mediocre talent in the past, and I think it's crucial for him to spend wisely this summer as to not jeopardize the team's future cap space. Toronto also has a valuable $7.6 million trade exception from the Leandro Barbosa deal that it can use if its cap number exceeds the league limit.