Are the Raptors ready for the 2013 NBA season ?
Anything is possible with the Raptors. They have the talent to win one of the last two or three playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, and they have the flexibility to blow the whole thing up if Masai Ujiri determines that is the best course. The “blow-it-up” talk will focus on Gay and Kyle Lowry; Gay’s contract is enormous, with only a player option after this season, and Lowry’s is an affordable expiring deal.
But don’t overlook DeRozan. He has four seasons left on his contract, at $9.5 million a pop, and he has never put up a league-average player efficiency rating (though he was within half a point last season). He’s just 24 and he’s getting better; teams are curious, and his contract isn’t big enough to be a deal-killer. Keep an eye on DeRozan.
If the Raptors don’t show the potential for a postseason berth early in the year, Rudy Gay is likely to take a majority of the heat as the team’s best player.
He wasn’t acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies under this new regime, so Masai Ujiri really has no ties and/or obligation to Gay, and he does not have to build around him over the long-term.
One would assume that Gay’s name would be floated around more so than DeRozan, who just signed a four-year deal, or Lowry, who has value as an expiring contract but is needed to run the point.
The MVP of the Toronto Raptors doesn’t necessarily have to go to the best player. For instance, a case could be made for Amir Johnson being the MVP last season, even though he wasn’t the most talented guy on the team.
The odds are on DeMar DeRozan breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling this season and putting forth his finest effort yet. No one on the Raptors wants to make the postseason more than DeRozan, who has experienced enough losing over the years to make anyone’s head spin.
He may not lead the team in any statistical category, but from a consistency stanpoint, no one will shine brighter than DeMar DeRozan in 2013-14.
Terrence Ross is the prime candidate for this dubious distinction. Anything remotely close to the performance he had during his rookie year will be considered beyond disappointing for Ross.
It would take a major collapse from someone like DeMar DeRozan or Rudy Gay to enter this category. I sincerely hope that I’m wrong on this; it’s just that Ross has given myself and fans all over Canada little reason to think otherwise.