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Raptors Loss to Pistons Helps Lottery, but Shows Team Has a Long Ways to Go

It was great to see Alabi getting serious burn but are he and others like DeRozan and Davis really going to move this club forward?
It was great to see Alabi getting serious burn but are he and others like DeRozan and Davis really going to move this club forward?

The loss was great for tanking purposes but the HQ drives home the point that last night and other recent games should be a stark reminder of how far this team has to go in its rebuilding efforts.

Two games left.

That's it.

That's all that's left in the 2011-12 season for the Toronto Raptors, a season that's again felt much longer than a shortened season of 66 games would suggest.

Again, the Dinos will be missing the Big Dance, and again us Raptors' fans are left out in the cold.

There may not even be much solace in the NBA draft, as even with a loss last night to the Detroit Pistons, and a win by the Golden State Warriors, the Raps still find themselves tied for the league's sixth-worst record, not exactly pole position in terms of securing an Anthony Davis or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Which is a tough pill to swallow considering the needs of this team.

Many a time I'm asked what this club needs to get it back into playoff contention and my answer is usually something along the lines of "everything." The Raps just don't have the elite talent to get the job done and I thought that last night's hideous display of basketball really did a good job of putting this front and centre.

Minus Andrea Bargnani, Jerryd Bayless and Jose Calderon, there just isn't much on the roster in terms of NBA talent. The club is essentially playing a crew of D Leaguers and inexperienced "upside" players and most nights in the NBA, that's not nearly enough to get the job done. Sure, against a club like the Pistons that'll get you part of the way; Detroit is in a very similar situation as the Raps albeit possessing two very promising prospects in Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe, and a much less enviable salary situation. (Thanks to Mr. Gordon and Mr. Villanueva.)

But outside of the Pistons, it gets pretty rough to win games playing with a roster full of Alan Anderson's and Ben Uzoh's.

And while that's fine for the time being, Toronto needs all the lottery help it can get, watching last night was a stark reminder of how far this club has to go.

Think about it.

Even with Andrea, Jose and Jerryd, this wasn't exactly a good team.

Dwane Casey's defensive schemes have gone a long way towards making the club look like an overachiever but the reality is that without some serious help nearly across the board, I fear that fans are going to see many more non-playoff seasons ahead.

Of course I'm not telling you anything new.

Ever since the Jermaine O'Neal experiment blew up, many of us knew that this club needed a major structural overhaul. Bryan Colangelo finally got it underway last year, but there's a lot more work to be done.

DeMar DeRozan isn't saving this club. Your marquee guy has to dominate these sort of match-ups and while 16 points in only 28 minutes of action is ok, a single rebound and two measly free-throw attempts against a team like Detroit just isn't going to cut. it. I'm not saying that I expected him to single-handily win games for this team. But last night I kept imagining other players from DeMar's draft class in his same shoes, only putting up much more robust totals. DeMar's had lots of opportunities minus Andrea and while having a true PG would no doubt help (Calderon's missed a lot of time too of late) I just haven't seen much in the way of "starter material" from him, or guys like Ed Davis.

And hey, I love Solomon Alabi's 10 rebounds last night but if you looked up the term "NBA project" in the dictionary, you'd probably see a photo of Solo in all his glory.

Yes, Jonas is on the way, but the scary thing is that these current young players represent the club's future. This isn't meant to be an anti Ed Davis or DeMar DeRozan rant but the reality is that they're just not winning basketball games for this team. Forget tanking and trying to lose, but you have to think that if Andrea was holding many of these players back, we would have seen an explosion or two in his absence, and that hasn't been the case.

That's why these final games are so important not just from a "tanking" standpoint, but also from a player evaluation viewpoint, so I'm hoping seeing them flail around like fish out of water is a wake-up call for Bryan Colangelo.

Maybe these guys become solid role players, but without a huge jump this offseason, they're just not enough, and these last few games hopefully drive that point home.