With the lockout likely to linger well into October and perhaps into November, trying to preview the seasons of 30 teams that might not actually have one seems about as worthwhile as raking leaves on a windy day. But I love raking and the wind only makes it last longer. We here at Razzball have you covered, even if you didn’t want to be covered. That’s love. You’ll appreciate it when you’re older. Look at it this way, the only way any of this stuff can be proven wrong is if the season starts. So go ahead, NBA, make me a fibber! I dare you. Until then, here before you is the NBA fantasy gospel. Don’t even bother reading anything else – it’s all lies. From now until the start of the season, we’re bringing you the 2011 Fantasy Team Previews, which will focus on each team in order to paint a clearer fantasy picture. Who’s starting? Who might surprise you? And who might make you want to hurl yourself off a bridge in a few months. Enjoy! Next up – The Toronto Raptors (eh)
Gained – Jonas Valanciunas (picked up, high-fived Sonny Weems at the Lithuanian airport)
Lost – Sonny Weems, Reggie Evans (probably), Joey Dorsey (probably), Julian Wright (hopefully)
Probable position depth –
PG – Jose Calderon, Jerryd Bayless
SG – DeMar DeRozan, Leandro Barbosa
SF – James Johnson, Linas Kleiza
PF – Amir Johnson, Ed Davis
C – Andrea Bargnani, Alexis Ajinca, Solomon Alabi
Surprising Fact From Last Season –Amir Johnson led the team in PER (17.6), Win Shares (5.7, 1.7 points more than the next guy), blocks, qualified offensive rebounds, true shooting percentage, played more games for Toronto than anyone except DeRozan but was only used 15 percent of the time he was on the floor last season.
Number of Top 20 Fantasy Players (par 0-1) – 0
Number of Top 50 Fantasy Players (par 1-2) – 0
Number of Top 75 Fantasy Players (par 2-3) – 2, DeRozan, Bargnani
Number of Top 100 Fantasy Players (par 3-4) – 3, A. Johnson
Number of Top 200 Fantasy Players (par 6-7) – 7, J. Johnson, Davis, Bayless, Calderon
3 Concerns Heading Into the Season –
1. How many times will I add and drop Jerryd Bayless this season?
If the answer is less than three, you’re probably doing something wrong. The thing is, Bayless is a better per minute fantasy option than Joe Kettle, but Kettle went down to the crossroads and made a deal with the devil. Unfortunately, the crossroads in Canada is somewhere near Ottowa and clearly something was lost in translation. Calderon thought he was trading his soul in order to play the role of floor general on a team at the top of the league. The devil understood this as a desire to generally run around on the floor as a role player on Toronto – a team that is geographically at the top of maps. The Raps may play Bayless alongside Calderon in some situations, but I’d still avoid drafting either player until late. Jump on one if the other is injured.
2. Whatchu know ’bout DeMar DeRozan?
He had the biggest scoring increase among all NBA sophomores and third in the league overall, rising from 8.6 ppg in ’09 to 17.2 last season. That’s hugeantic! More hugeantic than that, is what’s waiting for DeDe in 2011. Namely, a shallow 2-3 position on the roster that has an injured Linas Kleiza, a busted Leandro Barbosa and an unproven Yames Yohnson trading spaces. That tells me DeRozan’s playing 36+ minutes a game this season. On another note, we really need a name for the players that were great with Steve Nash and nearly disappear after they’re traded.
3. Quick! What forces Linas Kleiza to miss more time? The lockout or his microfracture knee surgery?
I’ll go with the lockout. His knee will keep him out until January, so by saying the lockout keeps him out longer, either I’m right or I’m happy to be wrong. It’s a win-win (not really). Either way, don’t draft this guy – even in your All Linas fantasy basketball league.
Fantasy Disappointment in ’11 – Andrea Bargnani. Of the Raptors who played at least 25 games last season, Bargs was easily involved in more plays than anyone else on the team (28.1 Usg% as compared to 25.6 for Barbosa, who was second on that list and not a starter). The team threw off his collar and tossed a steak on the court and still, Andrea didn’t eat. He wasn’t one of the 75 best players in fantasy basketball, nor one of the two best players on his own team. His scoring jumped from 17 to 21, but all he really did with that high Usg% was score. His already low rebounding fell, his bpg were chopped in half and his owners were still treated to sub-.500 FG% for the fifth straight season. He was a disappointment last year, but he’ll drop off farther because Johnson, Johnson, Davis and DeRozan are all a year older and likely to ensure Bargnani doesn’t get the ball anywhere near the 28 percent of the time he got it last year. And lest ye forget, old timey talkers: the Raptors just signed an athletic center from Europe with a better
outside inside game than inside outside one who’ll join the team in 2012. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Biggest Fantasy Contributor in ’11 – DeMar DeRozan. He’s also the new boss. Think of him as middle management. He’s monitoring all of Bargnani’s emails and web clicks.
Deep Sleeper – James Johnson. Yeah, he’s on your radar. I know. But there’s a steep dropoff between those who can on this team and those who won’t. You want to draft the 45-year-old Reggie Evans and hope five other bigs get hurt to give him room to play? T’ain’t no skin off my taint. I’m stopping at Johnson.