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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.

From Around The Web

  1. Migs says:
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    “And lest ye forget, old timey talkers: the Raptors just signed an athletic center from Europe with a better outside game than inside one who’ll join the team in 2012. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

    I think you have your Euros mixed – the Raps signed Jonas Valanciunas, not Donatas Motiejunas. Jonas V is known for his rebounding and shotblocking, and is more apt to roll than pop after setting a pick. He’s a Lithuanian Biedrins, with better FT% and hopefully without the injury-proneness. In the recent Under-19 tournament, he earned the MVP by averaging 23.0 points and, 13.9 rebs – stats that would probably bewilder Bargnani.

    He’ll probably also foul a lot in his first couple years.

  2. Adam

    Adam says:
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    @Migs: I flipped “outside” and “inside.” But I appreciate you assuming I had enough knowledge of Lithuanian teenage prospects to actually get them mixed up. That’s so sweet of you.

    I haven’t seen much video from Valanciunas. From what I’ve seen, he seems faster and more mobile than Biedrins. Am I wrong about that?

  3. Migs says:
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    All I’ve seen have been youtube highlights, but those can make Rafer Alston look like a great starting NBA point guard. JV seems more polished than Biedrins. He’s faster and more mobile, and he’s got good hands. Most of the video I’ve seen of him on the offensive end has him setting picks and then rolling straight to the rim for the lob or to grab a board. Trust me, after watching years of pick-and-pops-for-the-midrange-J by both Bosh and Bargnani (who barely sets good screens anyway), watching Jonas and Amir taking it to the hoop will feel like Moses reaching the holy land – oh wait, he died right before that happened…

  4. Yeah, a faster and more mobile Beans isn’t a bad comparison physically, but offensively, JV is way better than Biedrins. That 70% FG from last season isn’t a mirage. He played a limited role on his club team last year, focused mostly on pick and roll and putbacks, but at the U-19 chamionships JV took on star-level usage and a much expanded offensive role and still looked like a beast. He was also the top per-minute rebounder in the Euroleague last year, and I’m comfortable calling him a better rebounder than Biedrins. I’m excited about seeing him in a Raps jersey.

    As for Bargnani, I really hope he gets traded before the season starts. Raps fans deserve something better. More Amir and Davis would be a nice start.

    Bayless might not be in and out of the starter’s role as much as you think either. He’s got way more defensive potential than Jose (which ought to play well with Casey). His play as a starter last year was superb too, so there’s an off chance that he grabs the starting gig from day one and rolls with it.

  5. Adam

    Adam says:
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    @Migs: You mean Rafer Alston’s not great!?! So that “Best of Donyell Marshall” video…? Are you trying to tell me HE wasn’t great either?

    @Fenris-77: I agree that Toronto needs better defense and switching out Calderon for Bayless is a step in that direction, but the 6.8 ast per36 for Bayless versus Calderon’s 10.4 ast per 36 makes me think it’ll be an uphill battle, simply because there aren’t many facilitators on this team. I’m inclined to think both of these guys will play equal minutes.

  6. Those assists of Calderon’s are more mirage than prodigy. He’s a guy who can pass around the circle to open jump shooters or hit a guy rolling to the rim, but that’s it. He’s incapable of running the fast break, and he’s even more incapable of distorting a defense with the dribble drive to get solid looks for his team mates. He’s also incapable of playing even remotely acceptable defense. He was better last year than in years previous (off the bench anyway), but it’s hard to explain how bad he is on D even then. The guy I blog with collects PDSS stats (Dean Oliver, Basketball On Paper, ect) for every Raps player in every Raps game, which is the best statistical look at defense you can ask for. Looking at that we see that even last year Jose was a worse defender than thin air, which is to say that his defensive numbers were worse than those possessions to which a defender couldn’t be assigned due to proximity, massively bungled rotations, or whatever.

    Honestly, both Jose and Bargs have to go in order for the club to make a real go of ‘culture change’ on the defensive end. And yes, that phrase makes me retch too, but it’s what gets bandied about, so I’ll use it.

    Anyway, long story short – Jose isn’t really the facilitator his stats make him out to be, and the rest of his peripherals suck shyphlitic monkey balls. Bayless ftw.

  7. If I could spell syphlitic that would have been epic.

  8. Adam

    Adam says:
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    @Fenris-77: Syphlitic monkey balls are epic no matter what the context.

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