2014-2015 NBA Season Analysis- Toronto Raptors
This is an NBA Season for the Raptors to confirm what they showed last year, that they can become one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The new Cavs and a healthy Chicago Bulls team will make it tougher for them to get to one of the first spots (they finished the last Regular Season in the 3rd spot in the East), but I do believe the Toronto Raptors will be a tough and competitive team.
Coach: Dwane Casey
PG: Kyle Lowry; Greivis Vásquez;
SG: DeMar DeRozan; Terence Ross; Louis Williams
SF: Landry Fields; James Johnson; Bruno Caboclo (Rookie)
PF: Amir Johnson; Patrick Patterson; Tyler Hansbrough; Chuck Hayes
C: Jonas Valanciunas; Greg Stiemsma; Lucas Nogeira (Rookie)
Let’s get started, as usual, with the offensive end of the floor:
I believe they’ve got a pretty balanced team, although I would say the backcourt is their main strength, with elite guys like Lowry and DeRozan and pretty good back-up guards in Greivis Vasquez and the newly acquired Louis Williams. What makes them so dangerous is the ability they all have to handle the basketball, put it on the deck and create plays; and, at the same time, the fact that they can also play off the ball (with the possible exception of Vasquez, who needs to have the ball on his hands most of the time. We saw a 2-point-guard line-up several times during games last year, where Greivis is the primary ball handler and Lowry plays off the ball).
Also, the fact that they can all shoot the basketball pretty well from the outside will give more room for the big guys to operate in the paint and will make pick and roll plays very successful. Both Valanciunas and Amir Johnson are good players at continuing and finishing at the rim, so they will benefit from their guards’ ability to create plays; and the latter (a much improved jump-shooter) , along with Patterson, can also play pick and pop and get some buckets from the elbow.
In addition to the great back court they’ve got, I consider key that Terence Ross keep on improving his jump shooting, what will make defenders close out on him and will let him use his incredible athleticism to get past them and get easy baskets at the rim.
Finally, it also important that guys like the starting big men or Hansbrough continue fighting for offensive boards and creating second shot opportunities, so that they can get easy points from put-backs or find the open man in the perimeter (please notice that there’s always at least one open player in the perimeter after offensive rebound).
Let’s now move onto the defensive end of the court:
Although they are still making some adjustments and working on improving it, I do believe the Raptors are a good defensive team and can become one of the top defensive teams in the entire Association. They’ve got great individual, athletic defenders (both in the back and the front court), and a defensive-minded coach in Dwane Casey, who’s certainly helped them improve team defence.
Great defence, as well as defensive rebounding, will allow them to create offense from defence and get easy fast-break points. Due to their outstanding athleticism, this can become a powerful weapon and make the Raptors a pretty dangerous team.
They’ve also got great blocking ability in guys like Valanciunas, Stiemsma or even James Johnson (one of the best outside players in the NBA in that regard), so to sum up, with hard work, commitment and all the defensive weapons they’ve got, I do believe they will become a really tough team to beat for anyone in this league.
Likely Starting Line-up
Lowry – DeRozan – Ross – A. Johnson – Valanciunas
As I said before, I am pretty sure the Raptors will be a competitive team, but due to the increased competitiveness in the fight for the top spots in the Eastern Conference, my prediction is they will end up in the 5th position.
Here is a preview of what the high-flying Toronto Raptors might show us this 2014-2015 NBA Season