Updated: Oct. 27, 2006, 12:01 PM ET

SPECIAL PREVIEW EDITION
Bosh, TJ and the Euro-Raps

Raptors

Team Page | Schedule | Roster | Hollinger Stats

Where will the Toronto Raptors finish in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference? Get 10 different takes from ESPN's NBA experts.

ANALYST COMMENT
Greg
Anthony

ESPN.com
Bryan Colangelo has shaken things up, but this team is going to take time to develop. A lot of excitement north of the border with all the international flavor. The talent is there, but it will take time for them to jell.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 13
Chris
Broussard

ESPN Mag
Signs of progress will show, but not necessarily in the win column. Still a few years away from being a real playoff contender.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 12
Ric
Bucher

ESPN Mag
They've seriously upgraded their talent, but they still won only 27 games last year. A 10-game improvement would be a nice first step for the Bryan Colangelo regime.
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 11
Chad
Ford

ESPN.com
So the Euroleague gets a team in North America before the NBA gets one in Europe. GM Bryan Colangelo's international moves this summer should help the team's depth and experience problems, but the Raptors just don't have the talent to get into the playoff race.
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 11
John
Hollinger

ESPN.com
The front-office soap opera is over, but it will take Bryan Colangelo at least another year to get the product on the floor up to snuff. The Charlie Villanueva trade was a step in the wrong direction, but Chris Bosh will keep them competitive.
DIVISION RANK: 4 | CONFERENCE RANK: 13
Scoop
Jackson

ESPN.com
Didn't see the plan until they got T.J. Ford. Now the picture is clear as Pella. Rasho Nesterovic in the middle, Fred "I'll Dunk On You" Jones at the two (as sixth man), Andrea Bargnani wherever and CB4 (Bosh) better. Sam Mitchell may get coach of the year.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 7
Tim
Legler

ESPN.com
The climb back to respectability has begun. T.J. can create an up-tempo style and enhance Chris Bosh's game. The key, however, will be how quickly No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani can produce consistently.
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 10
Jim
O'Brien

ESPN.com
Colangelo has a great plan and the Raptors will be exciting, but they are still a year or two away. Their high-octane offense will go for naught if they don't jump 10 spots at the defensive end.
DIVISION RANK: 5 | CONFERENCE RANK: 13
Chris
Sheridan

ESPN.com
We liked most of Colangelo's offseason moves, with the Ford-Villanueva swap the exception. The Raptors will open things up and score a bunch, but look for Ford to lead the NBA in turnovers.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 9
Marc
Stein
ESPN.com
This might be David "Globalization" Stern's favorite team, but Le Commish and Canada's hoops fans have to be patient. A playoff berth in Year 1, after an overhaul this drastic, is a lot to ask of Toronto's many new imports.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 10
 
Average ranks

DIVISION: 3.3 | Standings
CONFERENCE: 10.9 | Standings


One Large Italian, With Everything On It
Bargnani
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images
Not all No. 1 picks can be LeBron. But Andrea Bargnani brings the promise of a versatile 7-footer into the NBA, one who helped his Euroleague team to a championship.


Lineup Breakdown

STARTERS ANALYSIS
T.J. Ford
Point Guard
6-0 | 165
Brought in to pass, but he's shooting (career 40.5 FG percent) for a new contract.
Anthony Parker
Shooting Guard
6-4 | 200
Euroleague MVP two years running will feel right at home here.
Morris Peterson
Small Forward
6-6 | 207
Up-tempo style means open 3s for corner specialist (39.5 percent).
Chris Bosh
Power Forward
6-10 | 245
Breakout stats (22.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg) a preview for playoff break-in.
Rasho Nesterovic
Center
6-11 | 250
Small-ball sub by January.
Bench: Few teams can match the up-front versatility of Andrea Bargnani and Jorge Garbajosa. At guard, Fred Jones will fly with Ford while Jose Calderon caddies for T.J.

ESPN The Magazine's NBA Preview hits newsstands October 25.



Hollinger's Player Spotlight
Jose Calderon
Player efficiency rating
projection: 11.63
vs. NBA avg.: -3.37
Raptors profiles
Scouting report: Calderon is 6-3 with long arms and is a speedy dribbler with either hand. He sees the floor very well, as shown by his sparkling assist ratio, but sometimes gets in trouble when he drives and leaves his feet before knowing where he'll pass the ball. That's the main reason his turnover ratio was unacceptably high, ranking 55th among point guards.

Calderon could also cut the turnovers by shooting better. Because his outside shot isn't a threat, opponents can sag off and force him to drive into crowds when he penetrates. Calderon had decent shooting numbers in Europe, so this may just be a question of familiarizing himself with the longer NBA 3-point line.

Defensively, Calderon's length and quickness make him a good perimeter defender, but he needs to add muscle. Adding some meat on his bones would also help him absorb contact at the offensive end when he goes to the rim.

2006-07 outlook: Calderon played a fair amount last season, but he could see much more action now that Mike James is gone. New arrival T.J. Ford has a history of injuries and hasn't played all that well even when healthy, giving Calderon a decent shot at winning the starting job at some point during the year.

The question is whether he can handle it. While his passing and defense were helpful, overall Calderon's first season was no great shakes, and unless his shooting improves markedly he's not likely to be more than a quality backup player.


Forward Progress
Bosh
Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images
Rasho Nesterovic's arrival at center might allow a further flourishing for Chris Bosh, who'll no longer have to take the daily wear and tear of covering hefty pivotmen.


SportsNation Speaks
The Young Colangelo touch has some Raps followers hopeful. SportsNation casts its eye on one of the first deals by the former Suns exec.

Your take on the Ford-Villanueva trade?
41.1% Good trade for Raptors
40.7% About even
18.2% Good trade for Bucks

Vote: Raptors in 2006-07



Ask A Blogger
Raptors

What would it take for you to get a tattoo of the Raptors' logo on your chest?

Bryan Colangelo left his mark on the franchise when he gutted the roster and restocked the team with a former slam dunk champ, a player who won a title with the Spurs, the top pick in the draft, a former lottery pick and a handful of European stars.

The Raptors' roster now reflects the cultural mosaic of Toronto, and brighter days ahead. It's up to the players to leave their mark on the NBA, especially in the postseason.

If they do that this year, I'll leave a permanent mark on my body, in the shape of a Raptors logo.

Ryan McNeill | hoopsaddict.com



Coach's Corner

SAM MITCHELL COACHING FILE
Experience: 2 years
Record: 60-104
Playoffs: 0-0
NBA titles: 0
Coach's profile

Sam Mitchell has a clear-cut challenge -- win or go home. His job is on the line.

To win, he has to incorporate no fewer than three key players who excelled last year in Europe into the NBA style.

Then he has to find 20 ppg or so to replace what Mike James gave the Raptors last season.

And he has to create a system that protects Chris Bosh from being double- and triple-teamed to death.

Oh, and getting his group to defend and rebound would be nice.

David Thorpe, ESPN.com NBA analyst



Hollinger's Team Strength
Speed. The Raptors' offseason moves changed their makeup from a perimeter-oriented half-court offense to more of a track team.

The key is the addition of Ford, a blindingly fast guard in transition who will push the tempo and play a pass-first point guard.

Calderon behind him also has good speed and like Ford will look for the pass rather than the shot.

On the wings, Jones and Joey Graham are outstanding athletes who haven't put up great results as of yet, but could perform better in a more up-tempo environment.

And up front, Bosh and Bargnani routinely will beat other frontcourt players in transition.

The other players are solid in transition, too -- Parker, Peterson and Garbajosa can all get up the court. The only real slowpoke is Nesterovic.

More Hollinger Raptors analysis Insider



Fantasy Fix

Sleeper: Anthony Parker may be an unknown quantity to many fantasy leaguers, but if this team is truly going to model itself after the Phoenix Suns' attack, Parker's shooting ability is going to play a major role.

Don't be fooled by his 2.4 scoring average in first NBA go-round. His experience with Maccabi Tel Aviv will serve him well and he should help in all shooting categories.

Bust: Andrea Bargnani was the No. 1 overall selection, but he won't have a major impact as a rookie. His skill set is such that he should be a threat in the future, but it's unlikely he'll see meaningful minutes on a regular basis this season.

Keith Lipscomb | Fantasy Hoops Index





 

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