SPECIAL PREVIEW EDITION
|Marc Stein ESPN.com
||The Raptors don't have worst-in-the-East talent, but the team atmosphere threatens to be the East's ugliest. And that home exhibition loss to Maccabi Tel-Aviv couldn't have helped the mood.|
|Chris Sheridan ESPN Insider
||Jalen Rose is under contract for two more years at $15.7 million and $16.9 million, and finding a taker for him will become GM Rob Babcock's No. 1 priority by about the second week of December. Ridding himself of Rafer Alston might have been his best move, clearing the way for Jose Calderon.|
|Will Perdue ESPN Insider
||What direction is this team going in? If you know, please tell me. Some good individual talent, but the guys struggle when they have to play together. Where will Chris Bosh be in a few years?|
|Jim O'Brien ESPN Insider
||They really struggled last year with poor rebounding (last in the league) and porous defense (next to last in FG defense percentage). Nothing happened in the offseason that will help Sam Mitchell dramatically in these areas.|
|Eric Neel ESPN
|I'm printing T-shirts and bumper stickers now: "Free Bosh."|
|Tim Legler ESPN Insider
See Item 7 for Legler's analysis of the Toronto Raptors.
|Scoop Jackson ESPN
|JRose is going to wish he'da gone to Detroit.|
|John Hollinger ESPN Insider
||As if Canadian winters weren't bleak enough. Raps paying the price for years of serial mismanagement, although kids like Bosh, Charlie Villanueva, Joey Graham and Calderon will entertain.|
|Chad Ford ESPN Insider
||GM Babcock was right. His team is a mess. Bosh looks like a future All-Star, but after that, things are pretty shaky in Toronto. If Villanueva doesn't have a great rookie year, Babcock might be the first GM to get the ax.|
|John Carroll Scouts Inc.
||Graham from Oklahoma State is a big-time small forward who can score and rebound and reminds me of a young Paul Pierce. It will be interesting to see whether the Raptors will try to move Morris Peterson and Rose.|
|Ric Bucher ESPN Mag
||If you believe Alston was the source of their chemistry issues, the Raptors have the talent to be competitive. If you believe he was merely a symptom, they're at least two more moves away from being worth our attention.|
|Chris Broussard ESPN Insider
||Terrible, just terrible.|
|Starters: Woods' and Rose's lack of grit puts a lot of pressure on Bosh.|
|16.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg in soph season. And he's still learning.||
|For all his pouting, he can still fill it up when he wants to.||
|3.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg? Yes, he's the best the team can do.||
|See Loren Woods.||
|Alston had more talent, but James won't quit.||
|Bench: Rafael Araujo's another BYU bust. Jose Calderon is another Euro PG who plays the game right. Eric Williams, Charlie Villanueva and Joey Graham add depth.||
ESPN The Magazine's NBA Preview hits newsstands Oct. 26.
Player Efficiency Rating
vs. NBA Avg.: -0.57
The NBA doesn't keep official stats on this, but Peterson takes as many charges as any player in the league. It's one of the reasons he has been able to establish a niche as a defensive stopper on the wings. Although he's hardly in the class of Bruce Bowen, Peterson certainly is in the upper tier of defenders at his position. He's also extremely durable -- he hasn't missed a game in more than three years and owns the league's longest current consecutive games streak at 278.
Offense is Peterson's undoing. He rushes too many long jumpers, especially early in the shot clock. That means he tends to have low field-goal percentages even though he's a good shooter. He also performed terribly on the road. Peterson shot 46 percent and averaged 15 points per game at Air Canada Centre, but a meager 37 percent and 10 points on the road. The disparity was even worse in 3-point percentage -- his 46.3 percent at home dwarfed his 28.6 mark on the road.
Peterson moved into the starting lineup after the Carter trade and should be a fixture there this season. His defense makes him a worthwhile asset, but if he's going to be a quality starter, he needs to improve his shot selection and add more variety to his offensive game.
Well, that's half-right: Bosh actually was forced to play slightly more than half the time at center last year because of the Raptors' thin frontcourt. But, speaking of thin, Bosh's narrow frame isn't exactly Shaq-like, meaning the really big guys can push him around.
So, we asked SportsNation (that means you, too, Canada) where you would put Bosh. And the results are as we figured:
Where should Chris Bosh play?
87.0% Power forward
Legs on Raptors: I love Sam Mitchell, and it's just too bad he has to coach this collection.
Jalen Rose should get a free year's worth of visits to the chiropractor from the front office for carrying this team on his back.
Tim Legler, ESPN Insider
Experience: 1 year
Reg. season record: 33-49
Playoff record: none
Mitchell had a tough first year in Toronto. Losing Vince Carter in a trade hurt last year and it will hurt this year.
Bosh, Rose and Peterson have firepower. It is not enough, however, to overcome poor rebounding (last in the NBA) and a porous defense (next to last in the league).
Jim O'Brien, ESPN.com Insider
Toronto's only hope of staying remotely competitive this season is if it gets major contributions from its three rookies: point guard Calderon, small forward Graham and power forward Villanueva. Each has enough markers in his favor to suggest he can be productive.
Calderon is among the best guards in Europe and, at 6-foot-3, is big enough to move to the shooting guard spot occasionally. His numbers from overseas project to an above-average backup point guard.
The two first-round draft picks also should help. The Raptors' front office was skewered for drafting Villanueva, but his rebounding skill is undeniable and he has the makings of a nice inside-outside game. Graham tested out as the best athlete in the draft, although that athleticism became hard to discern once the games started. Nonetheless, his defense should be welcomed on a team that provided an open freeway to the basket last year.
Sleeper: James shouldn't be known as the guy Toronto got when it sent Alston packing. James has game, and fantasy owners know it. James was a fine starting point guard in Boston two seasons ago, and should start here, providing five assists and 1.5 steals and 3s per game. Pick him five rounds after Alston and laugh.
Bust: Rose always has been able to score points, but last year's 18.5 a night was a bit much to ask for again. With other Raptors demanding more shots, especially Bosh and Peterson, Rose's numbers should suffer. Since he averaged minuscule totals in rebounds and assists, that means he's not worth a top-50 selection.
Eric Karabell | Fantasy Basketball Index