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Raptors 2008-09 Season Post Mortem – The Grades Part I

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The Raps didnt' get enough of this from Hump this year...did he get the F though?

The Raps didnt' get enough of this from Hump this year...did he get the F though?

It was a little strange for us HQers to wake up this past Saturday, and not throw on the over-sized red t-shirts that we’d accumulated from the past two Raptors’ playoff appearances in preparation for yet another run.

Instead, all three of us were stuck watching a new batch of clubs take to the pine, and while there were some epic performances to be seen (Derrick Rose and Lebron James to name a few), it wasn’t quite the same.

And while the season for the Toronto Raptors has actually only been over for about five days, doesn’t it already feel like months?

Well, with the tumultuous 2008-2009 Season behind us, it is our final opportunity to look back at what has transpired since that home opening win against Golden State. Over the next week or so we’ll be doing a full post-mortem on the season that was, looking at the team from all sorts of angles and from a variety of opinions.

To kick things off though, let’s take a look at some grades.

Again, these aren’t in any particular order, and are based solely on the expectations the three of us had for each individual prior to the season.

It's not pretty folks, but perhaps that’s not surprising considering that the Dinos finished with an under whelming 33 wins…

Andrea Bargnani – Grade A

Let’s start with the good here. Expectations for Bargnani coming into this year were extremely tempered. We had heard from Colangelo during the last off-season regarding Bargnani's respiratory problems along with his injuries, but after a summer of bulking up and getting healthy, Raptors’ fans were holding their breath regarding the former number one overall pick. Sure, it seemed plausible that Bargnani would return to form offensively, but little did we know that it was on the defensive end that he would make the biggest strides. We might sit here and argue about stats like his rebounding numbers for the season, still under whelming, but Bargnani's value grew to the point that fans began to wonder if he was the team’s future cornerstone and not Chris Bosh. Besides leading the team in blocked shots, he's grown to assert himself more on the offensive side of the court as well, especially down low, and has learned when to attack the rim, and when to pull-up to avoid the charges he used to fall victim to. Heck, just think about how few traveling calls Bargnani has gotten in this past year! Without a doubt this season put some of the "magician" back into Il Mago and here's hoping we see some more improvements for the next.

Anthony Parker - Grade B

Parker had another "ok" season with the Raps. He’s still a true team player as demonstrated by his willingness to do whatever was asked of him by Coach Triano, but his offensive numbers were slightly down from his past two seasons, and defensively, he seemed to have lost a step. He handled the back-up PG duties admirably, and was more of a factor once Shawn Marion came on-board and the Raptors began to get out and run. On the flip side Parker again went through stretches where he simply wasn’t a presence on the floor, something he even acknowledged in post-season interviews. This inconsistency merits a B grade as even though he remains a solid player overall, and is as professional as they come, it’s hard not to feel like he should have been a bigger factor for the Raps this year.

Roko Ukic - Grade D

Roko Ukic is one of those guys that is hard to evaluate. On potential, he has shown us flashes in games that lead you to believe that he deserves to be on the court. Proof? How about being instrumental in two of the Raptors biggest wins of the season against the Rockets and the Spurs. And yet, it’s hard to give him a mark higher than a D at the moment. Why? Because in the final run of games, Ukic's regressed to the point that he was doing his best "worst of" T.J. Ford impression. And unfortunately, unlike Calderon's rookie campaign, we can't even chalk up his regression to an injury. No, the list of things that Ukic has to work on over the summer is longer than just "work on your jump shot" unfortunately. There's also "learning how to dribble properly", "learning to finish at the hoop", "learning when to drive and when to shoot", "learning to defend the point guard position", and "learning to efficiently use your dribble as a weapon." We still believe Ukic has the potential to do good things, but this summer, he's gotta get at least two or three of these list items on track if he hopes to be an effective backup in this league.

Marcus Banks - Grade C

Banks is currently more recognized for his rather inflated contract then he is for any contributions he makes on the floor. Since being acquired in the JO-Marion deal he has spent most of his time on the bench or on the trainer's table. When he was acquired we expected very little from him and that's what he has given thus far. Unless somehow packaged out Banks will be a Raptor next season. Although his run of quality basketball in Minnesota seems like a lifetime ago it's not completely out of the realm of possibility that he could contribute at some level. He is a big PG who has shown the ability to score. Whoever the next head coach is will have the unenviable task of trying to get Banks to play within himself and be comfortable with the assignments he is given, even if that means sitting most of the games out.

Quincy Douby - Grade B

Let’s be honest here, did anyone REALLY expect Douby to stick around for very long on this team? He never panned out with a fairly bad Sacramento team, even though he had plenty of opportunity, and being more of a small 2 than a true 1, something the Raptors needed, it didn’t seem like he’d last past his first 10-day contract. However, he showed a steadier hand than Ukic, and has played more as a team player than Banks, which puts him in the running as an ideal third-string point and shooting guard. However, with Banks on the roster for a couple more years, Ukic being seen as a worthwhile investment, and Anthony Parker perhaps returning in some sort of back-up role, it’s still hard to understand why the Raptors’ decided to sign him on for next season. Only time will tell for the former Rutgers product but he definitely surpassed most of our expectations, even in his limited minutes.

Nathan Jawai – INC

After missing most of the season due to heart issues, and then spending the majority of his on-court time in the D League, Jawai gets a pass from us in year one. However, that doesn’t mean that Franchise is still livid about passing up the likes of Bill Walker in exchange for his services.

Kris Humphries – D

Hump was essentially a broken leg away from getting an F at this spot. Yes, at times he contributed to the team and looked like a legit option as a third or fourth big-man off the bench. But considering his salary and production and then comparing that to say Pops Mensah-Bonsu and it’s getting extremely hard to justify Kris’ place on this roster. It’s not that Hump doesn’t have the tools, it’s just that he continues to try and play like he did as a Gopher in college; forcing jumpers, looking for his own shot, and really playing out of the role he’s needed for on this club. With Pops looking like a lock to return next year it’s at the point where Humps services may be served better elsewhere.

Joey Graham - Grade C

I think at the beginning of the year, most of us had given up on Joey Graham. Being lost in the Raptors rotation under Sam Mitchell and seemingly being unable to show any return on investment considering his incredible physical tools, it seemed a foregone conclusion prior to the season that this was the end of the line for Mr. Joey G. However once in control, Jay Triano trusted Graham to give the Raptors some energy, and for about two months, Graham delivered consistently. It appeared that his time in summer-league paid off and suddenly we were seeing Graham look like the player many had envisioned when he was drafted; a physical option down low, a slashing forward who could score in traffic, and a lock-down defender. However towards the end of the season, Joey Graham showed some of his consistency from years past, especially once Shawn Marion entered into the scene, and he couldn’t quite complete his transition from afterthought to permanent role player. With the Raptors constantly adjusting his position between power forward and small forward, Graham has undoubtedly had to make adjustments throughout the year but is he worth holding onto? With a qualifying offer on the table for almost $3.5 million, it will be interesting to see if Graham will be returning to the Raptors next season, or if BC believes he can find a comparable replacement via the draft for much less money.

RAPTORS HQ