Watchability Rankings: No. 18 Raptors
by Sean Highkin, USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports’ Adi Joseph and Sean Highkin will be counting down NBA teams based on watchability for the upcoming 2013-14 seasons. We’ll go one team a day, from least-watchable to most, giving you an idea of what to keep an eye out for this season. Today, we continue with the No. 18 Toronto Raptors:
2012-13 record: 34-48, missed playoffs
Adi Joseph’s 2013-14 projected record: 35-47, miss playoffs
Two best players (2012-13 stats): SF Rudy Gay (19.5 points, 6.4 rebounds a game), SG DeMar DeRozan (18.1 points, 3.9 rebounds a game).
Overview: The Raptors’ biggest offseason move didn’t take place on the court. Toronto stunningly hired Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri away from the Denver Nuggets, and it’s up to him to clean up the roster. He started by trading perennially underperforming and overpaid Andrea Bargnani to the New York Knicks, but there still are questions to be answered. Promising young guard Terrence Ross will be fighting for minutes with highly paid veterans DeRozan and Gay, and Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas will look to capitalize on his potential after an injury-plagued rookie season. There are the makings of a playoff team in here, but they’re likely a few years — and a few trades — away from reaching that potential.
WHY YOU CAN’T MISS THEM
Putting the “Air” back in “Air Canada”: Gay, Ross and DeRozan are all capable of throwing down some spectacular dunks. The latter two have competed in dunk contests, while Gay has no shortage of highlight plays in games.
The man in the middle: Valanciunas showed flashes of dominance in his rookie season but was sidelined much of the year with injuries. After a standout performance at Summer League in Las Vegas, he’ll look to establish himself as one of the top young big men in the league.
Dark horse: The bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff race is crowded. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Washington Wizards, Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks create some stiff competition if the Raptors want to make a postseason run for the first time since 2008, but there’s still a chance they’ll get there.