The Toronto Raptors were finally able to snap their awful 13-game losing streak last Friday against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves.
While this may have been a big win for the woeful Raptors, who improved to 14-37 at the time, in hindsight it came against a team with an even worse record of 11-39. I think this matchup was a prime example of what Miami Heat star LeBron James was talking about when he referred to the NBA in the 80s as not being “as watered down as it is [now].”
While the Raptors are struggling mightily right now, are they really an example of a watered-down team?
As of right now, that statement would be hard to argue against for Raptors fans, but the future outlook does look promising. The Raptors think they have potential for the future with the likes of Demar Derozan, Ed Davis, and Jerryd Bayless and can only hope the draft is very kind to them along the way.
Derozan has the potential to be a very good player. He is already getting attention from American journalists this season (not easy to do) and is participating in both the slam-dunk completion and the rookie-sophomore game during the all-star competitions. Davis and Bayless are both former high-draft picks, Davis chosen by the Raptors last year and Bayless acquired for basically nothing from New Orleans. Both of these men have shown very raw talent in their early careers, but it can’t be argued that they each have potential.
Then there is the man everyone loves to criticize in Raptorland, first-overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft Andrea Bargnani. There is no denying that the 25-year-old has skill: he can shoot the three, work deep in the post, and drop a good percentage of his shots.
But everyone is skeptical of Bargnani because of one thing: effort. On his career, Bargnani is averaging just fewer than five rebounds a game. Yes, the seven-foot-tall starting centre of the Raptors is not even grabbing six rebounds a game. When asked about how he gets beat on the boards, Bargnani responded, “Being lazy maybe … That’s the only reason it can be. I’ve got the body.”
For any avid viewer of Raptor games, it is clear that when Bargnani is playing aggressively, the Raptors are a much better team. It is understandable that when you are on a team that has a .275 winning percentage, it is going to be hard to bring your top game every night. Raptor fans don’t care about what excuses Bargnani may have though, only that he comes out every game with a chip on his shoulder and proves he can be the leader of this team moving forward.