The first of our five-part installment reviewing the state of the Atlantic Division heading into the 2013-14 NBA season begins with the Toronto Raptors:
2012-13 record: 34-48 (fifth place in Atlantic Division)
Steve Novak, D.J. Augustin, Tyler Hansbrough, Dwight Buycks, Austin Daye, Julyan Stone.
Andrea Bargnani, Marcus Camby, Linas Kleiza, Quintin Richardson, Alan Anderson, John Lucas
Projected starting five
PG – Kyle Lowry
SG – DeMar DeRozan
SF – Rudy Gay
PF – Amir Johnson
C – Jonas Valanciunas
Of the 623 shots Kyle Lowry attempted last season, 199 (32 percent) were in the final three minutes of a quarter and 79 (13 percent) came in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime.
On paper, the Raptors have been a fringe playoff team for the past couple of seasons. Instead, the Raps have been the epitome of an underachieving team.
But maybe that’s a thing of the past? The team will have Rudy Gay for the entire season and big man Jonas Valanciunas is legit and a threat to be a 15-10 man this season. Plus, the Raptors have plenty of scoring depth in Gay, DeMar DeRozan and Steve Novak off the bench. The biggest asset for the Raptors could be Lowry and backup D.J. Augustin running the point.
While the Nets and Knicks will battle for the top of the division, the Raptors will slide in comfortably for third place with a realistic shot for a playoff berth.