by Jack Maidment
Best scoring teams in the NBA this year. Phoenix Suns. Golden State Warriors. Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors? As unlikely as it may seem, the Canadians rank third overall in points scored this season.
108.12 points per is pretty damn impressive, especially when you consider that the franchise has experienced a fairly radical reshape in the past few months.
Shawn Marion has gone. As has Anthony Parker. Both athletic wing players, both versatile, both missed?
Losing two of your better players doesn’t seem like the type of business strategy designed to keep your restless star player in town next year.
With that in mind, it was far from surprising when the Raptors aggresively pursued Hedo Turkoglu whose value, fresh from a trip to the Finals, was at its peak.
Whether or not the amount of money Toronto splurged on snatching Turkoglu from the clutches of the Portland Trailblazers has had the desired effect on Chris Bosh’s mindset regarding 2010 and free agency, there can be no denying the benefits of having the ex Orlando Magic forward on your squad.
14 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists may not exactly justify the man’s contract, but Hedo is certainly balling as he tries to adapt to a new home town, a new system. The level he was at last year should eventually come back to him as he adjusts to the wants and needs of his new team.
If Turkoglu isn’t blowing up with points every night, how are the Raps so prolific on the offensive end?
Their much coveted big man and his larger frame is perhaps the main reason. Chris Bosh has been putting up the kind of numbers that will have GMs across the land salivating. 29 points, almost 12 rebounds, 2 assists and a block a game. Numbers worthy of the anticipated demand for his services next summer.
The problem for the Raptors is that basketball is a game played on both ends of the floor. They are currently suffering from the same affliction that has dwelt in Golden State for some years. Entertaining for sure, but the ‘we’ll score more than you’ philosophy can only get you so far.
Defense is the key. A boring fact, but a fact all the same. Allowing 108.62 points a game just isn’t going to get it done in the NBA and it is for that reason the the Raps sit at .500, 3 games won, 3 games lost.
Until they develop a defensive identity the Raptors will remain a team on the cusp of greatness. They have enough fire power to worry any team in the League, but the consistency that a solid defense would bring is sorely missing.
Their status as dark horses for dishing out a playoff upset is well founded, especially given the promising play of rookie wing DeMar DeRozan who is right next to Brandon Jennings in terms of chances of excitement when a rookie plays.
The question for Toronto fans is simple: will the Raptors’ collective performance this year be enough to convince Chris Bosh to stay north of the border?
If it is, Toronto should have a promising few years ahead of them: Bargnani is always improving, Turkoglu should have 3 solid years to come, Calderon’s ability to run a team is unlikely to evaporate and the future of DeRozan is undeniably bright.
If not, Toronto will truly feel the sizeable hole left by Bosh, in all probability consigning the franchise to further years in the NBA wilderness, neither awful or great.
Mediocrity. Nothing more frustrating.