Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Toronto Raptors: Full of Fantasy Potential

In 2010-11, the Raptors will be a completely different team. With the loss of Chris Bosh via free agency and the trade of Hedo Turkoglu to Phoenix, this team is clearly rebuilding. These 2 players leave large holes that other players will have to step in and fill. For fantasy basketball enthusiasts, this means the Raptors are filled with a number of sleepers that have the potential to be huge contributors this coming season. After all, someone's got to replace Bosh's 24 points and 11 boards. Throw in the fact that the Raptors have been a high scoring team in recent years and we've got the perfect situation for 1 or 2 players to breakout. Let's take a look at the present roster:

Center: Andrea Bargnani

Bargnani will benefit the most from the loss of Bosh. He'll be the Raptors' primary scoring option. The thing about Bargnani is that he's never been much a rebounder, so whoever steps in as the starting PF will likely be the dominant rebounder on the team. I wouldn't be surprised if Bargnani's rebounding numbers barely improve this year. Something else to consider is that the Raptors don't have a legitimate back up signed right now at center. They haven't signed 2nd rounder Solomon Alabi, but he's a project anyway. The Raptors could end up resigning Rasho Nestorovic. As it looks now, Bargnani should get major minutes and is the most likely to have a great year.

Power Forward: Amir Johnson, Reggie Evans, Ed Davis

One of these 3 players will have to step in as the starting PF. Most likely it will be Amir Johnson, which gives him a chance to be a real factor in fantasy this season. He's always been a good rebounder, but with 30+ minutes a game he could get close to double-digit rebounds every night. Due to Bosh leaving, Davis also becomes a nice sleeper pick as he could step into that starting role later in the season if Johnson struggles or if Davis just plays better than expected. I expect Evans to fill a bench role as the back up at the PF and C positions.

Small Forward: Linas Kleiza

Due to contract troubles, Barnes may not end up in Toronto. This turn of events would clear the way for Kleiza to have a monster year. He's always been a scorer, but with extended minutes he has the potential to be the team's leading scorer with 6-7 rebounds a game. Kleiza is a guy I really like as long as he doesn't have any real competition for minutes at SF.

Shooting Guard: DeMar DeRozan, Leandro Barbosa, Marco Bellinelli

The Raptors are fairly deep at SG. DeRozan will likely resume his role as the starter, though there is a chance Barbosa could step into the starting line up if Jay Triano doesn't mind going with a smaller line up. Either way, DeRozan and Barbosa will see the bulk of the minutes. If Matt Barnes doesn't come aboard, the Raptors could potentially go with a smaller line up very often featuring DeRozan at the SF and Barbosa at SG. I'm really interested in Barbosa coming into this season. Although he's been disappointing the last few years, Barbosa can be a spark plug off the bench and this is a team where he has a chance to be one of their primary scorers. I'm curious where Bellinelli will fit in. While he's shown the ability to score, there were many stetches where he barely played. I think it will be much of the same this year and I'd stay away from him.

Point Guard: Jose Calderon, Jarrett Jack

The good news for Toronto is that they have 2 good PGs. The bad news is that they have 2 good PGs! These 2 will end up splitting playing time just like last season, unless one of them raises his game this season. This will result in neither player having dominant stats on a consistent basis. Calderon was very disappointing last season, frustrating owners who drafted him in the early rounds of their draft. If you want to take a chance on a Toronto point guard, I'd still have to go with Calderon. He's shown the ability to be a top 30 player in previous seasons, so there's always the chance he returns to that level.

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