Not All Is Bad For Toronto Sports Fans

Toronto SportsTotal Pro Sports – If your a Toronto sports fan you probably have your head underneath the pillow right now truly embarrassed to be a fan of any Toronto Sports club.  You may even be thinking about jumping on another teams bandwagon.  

The Toronto Maple Leafs or shall we call them the “Maple Laughs” stink, the Argos don’t even exist, the Jays do what they do best finishing every year 5 games over .500, and the Toronto FC………. are the FC.  Have no fear the Toronto Raptors may be here!  That’s right the Toronto Raptors, coming off a nice season last year loosing in the first round of the playoffs to the Orlando Magic.  With the recent addition of Jermaine O’Neal “If he can stay healthy”, and the leadership of Mr. Colangelo.  The future, we hope looks bright for the Raptors.

On Thursday night of the NHL opening games the Toronto Maple Leafs pulled one out of their hats against the Detroit Red Wings.  On Saturday at there home opener at the ACC, they came back down to earth with a 6-1 thumping at the hands of the big rivals, Montreal Canadiens.  The Leafs are beginning to look like we all had thought, horrible!!!!!!  They are rebuilding, so we all have to give them a chance.

The Toronto Blue Jays just finished a disappointing season, finishing 4thin the AL East and with the New York Yankees having a reported $88 Million dollars coming off the books and a new stadium bringingin an additional $400 million dollars in revenue.  It will be hard pressed for the Jays to move up and try to spend with the big dogs in the MLB.  Heck, even the Argos are horrible, bringing in Don Matthews, coach of the Argos for 2 Grey Cup wins in the late 90’s, can’t even help this team, he’s 0-5 since taking over for Rich Stubler. 

The Toronto FC are going to miss the playoffs in their second year of existence, hardly surprising, considering they are an expansion team, but after a strong start, more was expected.  That leaves us with one team to have some success this season: The Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors in my opinion are fielding their best TEAM ever.  Now I highlight the word team because I am sure many of you will be thinking, when Vince was here we had our best team. Or last year when we had all 12 players come off the bench and contribute, that’s including Derrick Martin, unsung coach of the Raptors who became the biggest ball hog in the history of Sports.  I mean here’s a guy who honestly believed that once he sunk a basket he was the second coming of Michael Jordan, “but well keep this D-Mart rant for another blog entry”. 

Sure this franchise has had Tracy McGradyand Vince Carter in the same lineup, the only problem was that T-Mac wasn’t the same player he was then as he is now.  The reason this is the best Team the Raptors will ever have on the floor, is because with a nice mix of European players and and 2 legit Big men “The New Twin Towers”, opposing teams will have fits trying to defend this lineup on the court.

NBA champions of the last ten years, who has a legit big man down the middle:

2008 Boston Celtics– Kevin Garnett
2007 San Antonio Spurs – Tim Duncan
2006 Miami Heat– Shaquille O’Neal
2005 San Antonio Spurs – Tim Duncan
2004 Detroit Pistons– Ben Wallace (Over big man O’Neal for the Lakers)
2003 San Antonio Spurs – Tim Duncan and David Robinson
2002, 2001, 2000 Los Angeles Lakers– Shaquille O’Neal
1999 San Antonio Spurs – Tim Duncan and David Robinson

Not since the 1998 Chicago Bulls has a team won without having a solid big man down the middle.  Sure each of these teams had other pieces.  Miami had D-Wade, The Lakers had Kobe, the Spurs had Parker but the centerpiece was their big man, and much of what the guards were able to do is because of the presence and double teams their big men demanded. 

The Raps have potentially the best big men combination since the twin towers of David Robinson and Tim Duncan.  Now Jo’Neal and CB4 aren’t as talented as them, but they form a pretty formidable front court.  If the Raptors can get O’Neal to play 65 games this year, which I think they will considering he’s two years away from free agency.  You know he wants one more big contract before he’s done!  Along with keeping Chris Bosh healthy, look for this team to finish in the top 4 in the Eastern conference.

When I compare the Raptors to other teams in the East, no team but the Celtics truly scares me.  King James and the Cavs could be a contender, but the new look Raptors should match up with them well.  The Magic and Dwight Howard, if you remember absolutely demolished the Raps last year in the playoffs. Howard in the 5 game series had 3 games of 20 points/20 rebounds plus, he had almost 4 blocks a game, basically he did whatever he wanted. That hopefully won’t happen this year, with two big men down low.

The two headed monster, will also draw considerable double teams, freeing up Jason Kapono and Anthony Parker for open looks from long range. To top it all off we have arguably the best pure Point Guard in the Eastern Conference in Jose Calderon, who is El Capitan at the point now that troublesome T.J Ford has been moved. Our bench players will know their role, and should help eat up some minutes when the starters are tired.  “El Mago” Andrea Bargnani Regressed last year, but has added some bulk and will have less pressure on him this year now that O’Neal will be starting.  New addition, Willie Solomon has proved this pre-season that he can score, the only problem he has is he’s turnover prone, he will be pushed by Roko Ukic for the back up position behind Calderon. Rounding out the bench is Kris Humphries and Joey Graham. Humphrieshas been receiving rave reviews for his energy in the preseason. Granted it is the preseason, but he’s asked to be a hustler not a go to guy this season. Look for him to provide solid minutes behind Bosh and O’Neal. With Graham, who knows who were going to get on any given night. All we can hope for is that his flashes of brilliance and promise outweigh his lapses in judgement and poor play.

This is a squad that can seriously challenge for a spot in the final. They are definitely talented enough to get into the second round of the playoffs and anything can happen after that. If they stay healthy this could be a scary team, one that could have this city as excited about basketball as it was when Vince was in his heyday

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