Sunday, 15 June 2014

Toronto Raptors - NBA Offseason Outlook Series

1st in Atlantic Division
3rd in Eastern Conference
48-34 W-L Record

Team Leaders

Points: DeMar DeRozan (22.7)
Rebounds: Jonas Valanciunas (8.8)
Assists: Kyle Lowry (7.4)
Steals: Kyle Lowry (1.5)
Blocks: Amir Johnson (1.1)

Team Statistics

Points: 101.3 (13th)
Rebounds: 42.5 (17th)
Assists: 21.2 (21st)
Points Allowed: 98.0 (7th)

Depth Chart

PG: Kyle Lowry, Greivis Vasquez, Dwight Buycks, Julyan Stone 
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Nando de Colo, Landry Fields
SF: Terrence Ross, John Salmons, Steve Novak
PF: Amir Johnson, Patrick Patterson, Tyler Hansbrough
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Chuck Hayes

Financial Breakdown

Under Contract: Dwight Buycks ($816,482), DeMar DeRozan ($9,500,000), Landry Fields ($6,250,000), Tyler Hansbrough ($3,326,235), Chuck Hayes ($5,958,750), Amir Johnson ($7,000,000), Steve Novak ($3,445,947), Terrence Ross ($2,793,960), John Salmons ($7,000,000), Jonas Valanciunas ($3,678,360)

Free Agents: Nando de Colo (Qualifying Offer), Kyle Lowry (Unrestricted), Patrick Patterson (Qualifying Offer), Julyan Stone (Unrestricted), Greivis Vasquez (Qualifying Offer)  

Projected Cap Space: Approximately $13.4 million

Draft Picks

First Round: 20th overall
Second Round: 37th overall (From Sacramento), 59th overall (From Oklahoma City via New York)

Team Needs

Frontcourt Depth/Upgrade
Toronto has a promising, young center in Jonas Valanciunas, but the rest of the frontcourt is in need of an upgrade. Amir Johnson is a serviceable big man who can occasionally knock down the 3 and Patrick Patterson is a nice stretch-4. Behind them, Tyler Hansbrough and Chuck Hayes receive minimal minutes in the rotation and provide energy in spurts. At best, most of these guys are just solid role players. In the long-term, these big men do not seem to fit in the big picture with the exception of Valanciunas. Trading for a more established power forward/center makes complete sense for an organization looking to build upon this season's success. In addition, acquiring a back-up small forward who possesses 3-and-D ability would also be beneficial.

Veteran Experience
The Raptors exceeded expectations this year as they finished third in the Eastern Conference and won the Atlantic Division for the 2nd time in franchise history. However, in the playoffs, they ran into a tough and experienced Brooklyn squad, eventually falling in seven games and failing to advance to the next round. As a young and upcoming team, Toronto should target veterans with playoff experience who are still capable of producing to help bolster their bench. With a relatively young core, the Raptors could certainly use some locker room guys who would provide a calm veteran presence and keep teammates accountable.

Keepers & Draft/Free Agent/Trade Targets

Kyle Lowry
While DeMar DeRozan was selected as a reserve for the Eastern Conference All-Star team, Kyle Lowry was arguably the Raptors most important player this season. Lowry posted career highs in multiple categories and became the leader of the team after Rudy Gay was traded to the Kings. In addition to scoring and playmaking, Lowry showed the willingness to sacrifice his body to take charges and take initiative in making big-time plays down the stretch. This breakout season will certainly allow Lowry to cash in this summer as a unrestricted free agent. Even if it means slightly overpaying their star point guard, retaining Lowry is definitely the biggest priority for the Raptors. The fanbase would be extremely disappointed to lose the heart and soul of the franchise.

Greivis Vasquez
Although there may be redundancy in re-signing Greivis Vasquez if Kyle Lowry comes back, it is evident that Vasquez's skill set complements Lowry's well. As a back-up point guard, Vasquez played significant minutes at the shooting guard slot with Lowry. His ability to play off the ball and knock down the three ball gives Lowry the space to operate and create scoring opportunities. Additionally, Vasquez is also an underrated passer who averaged 9.0 dimes per game in the 2012-13 season as a member of the New Orleans Hornets. As a restricted free agent, Toronto has the option to match any offer and should do so if the price is right.

Clint Capela
Capela, a power forward/center from Switzerland is projected to go in the mid-to-late first round of the draft, right within the range of the Raptors 20th overall selection. His athleticism and ability to defend the pick and roll will intrigue the Raptors. As a player who has played professionally in France, Capela would probably need some time to adjust to the NBA level. For that reason, he would be more of a long term project where the team develops his raw potential. Thus, instant contribution would not expected and it would also be safe for him to gain experience in the D-League. Because of the Raptors' need for front court depth, he is an ideal prospect for them.

Adreian Payne
Payne is a NBA-ready prospect who could contribute to a playoff team right away. His brilliant play during the 2014 NCAA March Madness tournament displayed his versatility as a stretch forward who can play inside and outside. As a senior at Michigan State this season, Payne showed that he was the leader of the team. Although he possesses less upside compared to other draft prospects, Payne is well-polished, fundamentally sound, and highly athletic. If the Raptors decide to let Patrick Patterson leave via free agency, they should consider taking Adreian Payne with their first round pick.

Vince Carter
Entering the twilight of his career, Carter may only have a couple seasons left in his tank. Vince Carter, a former Raptor played an instrumental role in putting Toronto on the map in the early 2000s. A reunion with the 8-time All-Star makes tons of sense for a team searching for veteran leadership and a locker room guy. Carter was productive off the bench this season averaging 12 pts for the second unit. As a free agent, Carter will not be seeking the most lucrative deal, but rather a good-fit. With the ability to consistently knock down threes and rise up to the occasion during clutch time, Carter to the Raptors would be an ideal homecoming.  

Shawn Marion
If the Raptors are looking for an inexpensive option at the small forward position, Shawn Marion would be a nice target. Like Carter, Marion will not be demanding a lot of money this summer and will look to latch onto a playoff contending team as his career winds down. The Raptors need a defensive stopper and Marion fits the bill. His ability to defend multiple positions will take pressure off of DeRozan and Lowry. In addition, Marion brings leadership and experience to the table. As a 2011 NBA Champion, the "Matrix" would show the Raptors how to get to the top.

Thaddeus Young
The Toronto Raptors do not necessarily need to make a splash this offseason. However, if the team feels that acquiring a proven player is more beneficial than developing young talent, the team could opt to trade their assets and cash in on a player now. Thaddeus Young is one of the players available on the trade market and his price tag is reasonable. A potential trade package could involved the Raptors 2014 1st rounder and a combination of the non-guaranteed contracts of John Salmons, Amir Johnson, Tyler Hansbrough, and Dwight Buycks. The Sixers are looking to build for the future by stockpiling on picks and opening up salary relief. Thus, this deal makes sense for both sides. For the Raptors, Young and Valanciunas would form a dynamic frontcourt. At 25, Young had one of the best seasons statistically for the Sixers averaging 17.9 ppg and he is just entering the prime of his career. With Toronto looking to advance further into the postseason, acquiring Young would be an excellent addition.

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