BoxScore Geeks' 2014 Toronto Raptors Preview

The Numbers

  •  Average Seed
    2
  • 📉 Pessimist
    43.7 wins
  •  Realist
    50.9 wins
  • 📈 Optimist
    58.2 wins
 First Seed
 
24.0%
⋆ Division
 Top 4
👍 Over (48.0)
ğŸ‘Ž Under (48.0)
ğŸŽ€ Playoffs

The Brief

The Raptors made lots of moves last year, but the first one was the biggest: hiring Masai Ujiri is the single best decision this franchise has made in the last ten years. It was not surprising that Masai cleared the roster of Bryan Colangelo's many mistakes; what surprised was how he was able to find teams willing to give him so much in return.

A year later, there is probably no surer bet on the board than the Raptors chances of winning the very weak Atlantic. The question is whether this team has enough talent to compete with Cleveland for the top spot.

The Story

Last year, once Bargnani and Gay were moved to make room for players like Amir Johnson and Terrence Ross to play more minutes, the Raptors really started to click.

Last Year

  •  Actual Wins: 48
  •  Expected Wins: 52.3
  • ⚅ Lucky Wins: 1.6
Player Minutes Age WP48 Wins
DeMar DeRozan 3,017 24 0.096 6.1
Kyle Lowry 2,862 28 0.220 13.1
Jonas Valanciunas 2,282 22 0.139 6.6
Amir Johnson 2,214 27 0.161 7.4
Terrence Ross 2,159 23 0.103 4.6
Greivis Vasquez 1,314 27 0.062 1.7
John Salmons  1,281 34 0.060 1.6
Patrick Patterson 1,118 25 0.141 3.3
Tyler Hansbrough 978 28 0.196 4.0
Rudy Gay  639 27 -0.009 -0.1
Chuck Hayes 575 31 0.105 1.3
Steve Novak  540 31 0.136 1.5
Landry Fields 322 26 0.115 0.8
Nando De Colo 193 27 0.109 0.4
Dwight Buycks 146 25 -0.029 -0.1
Julyan Stone 120 25 0.124 0.3
D.J. Augustin  82 26 -0.242 -0.4
Quincy Acy  61 23 0.257 0.3
Austin Daye  33 26 -0.224 -0.2
Aaron Gray  20 29 -0.044 0

 Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.

  • 52.3 total Wins Produced
  •  7 players leaving
    (2656.0 minutes, 2.8 wins)

Amir Johnson is finally getting the recognition he deserves. It has always truly baffled me that he's struggled for playing time for so many years (and this was spectacularly baffling given the players ahead of him in Toronto). In truth, when it comes to players who don't score, evaluators tend to concentrate a lot on what they cannot do, and ignore the things they not only can do, but do well. Amir is very foul prone, and he isn't the best passer. But all you need to ask is whether the things he does well compensate for this, and in Johnson's case, it's clear that they do. He is a great shot blocker, a solid rebounder, takes care of the ball, and is a great finisher.

Jonas Valanciunas made some good second-year improvement, with big leaps in rebounding and foul rate. He's one of my dark horse candidates for most improved this year. DeRozan still isn't worth his extension, but at least he has graduated into a capable starter who doesn't shoot his team completely out of games.

The Raps' clear MVP was Kyle Lowry, and his all-star snub was one of the ugliest in recent memory. He seems to have put the "injury-prone" label behind him.

This Year

  •  Projected Wins: 50.9
  •  Conference Rank: 2
  • % Playoffs: 97.8
Player Position Minutes Age WP48 Wins
DeMar DeRozan 2.0 2,396.3 26 0.100 5.0
Kyle Lowry 1.0 2,192.4 29 0.190 8.7
Amir Johnson 4.0 2,091.1 28 0.143 6.2
Jonas Valanciunas 5.0 1,860.7 23 0.151 5.8
Terrence Ross 3.0 1,754.7 24 0.125 4.6
Greivis Vasquez 1.0 1,328.5 28 0.118 3.3
Patrick Patterson 4.0 1,283.7 26 0.120 3.2
Lou Williams 1.5 1,243.7 28 0.098 2.54
James Johnson  3.0 1,201.4 28 0.144 3.6
Chuck Hayes 5.0 1,100.7 32 0.067 1.5
Tyler Hansbrough 4.5 756.2 29 0.113 1.8
Landry Fields 2.5 747.5 27 0.112 1.8
Jordan Hamilton  3.0 487.5 24 0.122 1.2
Lucas Nogueira  5.0 436.4 0 0.169 1.5
Will Cherry  1.0 430.8 0 0.051 0.5
Bruno Caboclo  3.0 368.3 0 0.029 0.2

 Indicates that the player is new to the team.

  • 📅 54.9 WP last year
    by these players
  • 🔀 4.8 WP (roster changes)
  • ⏲ .7 WP (age/experience)

Hansbrough and Patterson were great rotation players last year and we're projecting them to be above average next year as well. The craziest rumor I've heard so far is that Tyler Hansbrough has added a three-point shot to his arsenal. I totally want to see this.

It's reasonable to expect more improvement from Ross and J.V. I'm a little skeptical about James Johnson, but I also think Hansbrough and Fields' projections are conservative, so I'm not too worried about it.

The vets are mostly known quantities. Lowry and Amir Johnson will shine, DeRozan will score a lot of points and get too much credit for the team's success, and Vasquez will provide capable backup minutes. None of these players are old enough to expect any degradation in their production.

The Wrap

The Raptors are the clear favorite to win the Atlantic. It will probably be at least one more year before Phil can really turn the Knicks around, and the Nets are going to suffer after the loss of Livingston and Pierce. And always, there is the possibility that Masai could make some moves to improve the team.

If you're a GM hoping to win this season, just remember, if Masai calls...tell him you're busy!

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