In the Books

The NBA and NFL both had lockouts. 66 games later, and I'd have to say the NFL season came out better.

In what many are calling yet another in a long line of disappointing seasons, the Raptors find themselves without a playoff spot, hoping for a draft pick, and looking to "rebuild". However, Kinnon Yee takes some time to go back and look at his expectations coming into this season.

So, that's now in the books.

Another season wrapped up and for us at the HQ, it means some time for retrospective and gearing up for the summer.

I know that there will be those that are disappointed in this season and others who would say that it's a bitter pill to swallow.

But honestly, outside of a select few prognosticators, did anyone expect more out of this team? Because on paper, this team was projected to be pretty bad from the get go.

My memories of Media Day this year, for example, probably set the tone.

No, at the beginning of the season my lofty goals amounted to a few things: a quick end, a good shot at a high draft pick, and some answers.

Thanks to that lockout, we didn't have to endure 84 games. And because Bryan Colangelo left his team largely untouched from last year, the Raptors only managed to win a third of their games. (A few too many for some of us.)

And as for answers...

Is Dwane Casey a good fit for the Raptors and the right many to rebuild around? Yes. Definitely yes. In fact, he's a bit of a miracle worker and if you're not careful, he'll get you into the playoffs in a shortened season. Worthy of that extension he just got.

Does Andrea Bargnani have a future with this team? I wish I had this answer, but it's still wait and see. Unless Bargs learns to play through injury, play hard even when times are tough, he just won't be that consistent kind of player. And the Raptors NEED consistency. I'm just not sure I'd shed a tear if Bryan Colangelo were to decide to trade Bargs away.

Has DeMar DeRozan figured it out? Not really. Everyone might point to his play over the latter course of the season, but in my eyes, we still don't see enough of DeRozan being that offensive threat that teams fear. Put another way, his offense seldom carries and compensates for his poor defense.

Do the Raptors have any tradeable assets? Yes. Leandro Barbosa was traded at the deadline, and I'm sure there are teams who would like to see how much a James Johnson or Jose Calderon would cost them. And while we may have seen enough of both DeRozan and Bargnani, the rest of the league seems to see both as projects who can contribute. So if Bryan Colangelo really wants to make a splash, he does have the means. Whether he will, remains to be another story.

Can the Raptors play a "defensive" style over the course of a season? Yes, but at a balance. Throughout the year, we saw a change in how the Raptors approached their defensive schemes. At first, many would say the team swung too far one way and we were left with a team which was so focused on defense, it forgot how to score points. As the Raptors increased their pace and found their offensive legs, they struck a balance both by settling on rotations (a lot more James Johnson and a lot less Rasual Butler) and learning to break out for easy baskets even in a defensive-focused mindset. With a few personnel upgrades, the Raptors should be stronger next year.

Will the Raptors establish an identity? Sort of. Dwane Casey has given this group direction, but with the changes that we're looking at down the line, it'll likely be another training camp and first quarter of a season before the Raptors really solidify who they are, and their "winning formula". A few things to point out. The Raptors were first in the league with fewest fouls committed, 9th in defensive rebounds, and 11th overall in fewest turnovers. A good rebounding, disciplined defensive team seems to be the way forward. Now they just need to find the right personnel.

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