With the creation of the Miami “Super Heat”, there will be a resounding domino effect felt throughout the league and, in particular, the Eastern Conference. Cleveland and Toronto will probably be the most affected by the signings in Miami, but make no mistake about it, there will be shockwaves all over the NBA. Teams will change their views of how to build a winner and teams that were close to contending before, may find themselves on the outside looking in.
Toronto will feel the effects first hand next season.
The Raptors came to within one game of making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference this year and one would have to assume that their chances have taken a big hit with the loss of their best player, and leader, Chris Bosh.
Bosh was the centrepiece of the offense in Toronto and the main go-getter of rebounds. He was a leader on and off the court and was the sole reason the Raps were able to keep pace with many teams night after night. Without that kind of contribution, one would have to assume, the Raptors will be hard pressed to see any kind of success next year or playoff basketball.
With Lebron joining Chris and Dwayne Wade in Miami, the entire balance of power shifts in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland will likely no longer be factors in playoff discussions and Miami will likely be at the top of everyone’s prediction charts.
Playoff spots are almost certain, barring injury, to teams like Miami, Boston, Orlando, Atlanta, and Chicago. All of those teams kept major players or made strong upgrades through free agency. That only leaves three more spots for the playoffs next season. Those spots are likely to be teams that are thrashed in the first round by the teams mentioned. Teams like Milwaukee, New York, Charlotte, Detroit and Cleveland will all be vying for those last three spots.
Will Toronto be one of those teams?
My feeling is that the Raptors will be more competitive than anyone gives them credit for. They will not be predicted as one of the top eight teams in the East, but they have as good a shot as anyone.
Without Chris Bosh, the Raptors must alter their game plan. Good thing the Raptors have a GM that is good at changing up his game plan.
Chris Bosh was the focus of the offense for the Raptors and as a result their offensive sets often involved giving Bosh the ball and waiting for him to shoot, drive or kick out to a shooter. This plan got a little stale and as a result teams found the Raptors easier and easier to defend. Jermaine O’Neal, Shawn Marion, Hedo Turkoglu were all brought in to compliment him, but in the end the Raps couldn’t find a compliment to Bosh.
With no Chris Bosh, the Raptors will be able to change-up their offensive sets. Triano has proven in the past to be a decent X’s and O’s kind of coach and now he has a variety of players around that can do a multitude of things. Ball handlers, shooters, guys that can drive, guys that feed on putbacks. The “Boshless Era” may end up being an exciting time to watch the Raptors.
The franchise will not have to force everyone to mould to Bosh’s style. Players will be allowed to be themselves, focus on their strengths and compliment each other.
The American Dream Team had a very hard time defeating the Spanish National team over the last few years. The Dream Team had the talent, as Miami now does, but the Spanish utilized an unselfish, team oriented style of basketball. In the end the Spanish team gave the U.S. all they could handle and took gold away in the 2006 world championships. Colangelo watched as the Spanish team spread the ball around the floor and defeated the highly touted American squad.
Now Colangelo has the chance to build a team oriented style with this Raptors group.
He has at his disposal a number of exciting, young players that have no problem sharing the ball. Amir Johnson, Demar Derozan, Jarrett Jack, Sonny Weems, Ed Davis and newly acquired Linus Kleiza and Leandro Barbosa. Plus we’ll finally get a chance to see what Andrea Bargnani looks like as a focal point on offense.
Plus, Colangelo isn’t done dealing. He has a massive trade exception at his disposal as well as expiring contracts in Marcus Banks and Reggie Evans. You can also be assured that one of his point guards will be dealt before the season begins. More weapons to help build his team-oriented strategy.
Team oriented championships have happened before. One needs to look no farther than Detroit to see that a team can win without a proven star player.
Will the Raptors win this season? Time will only tell.
One thing is certain though. This team will be exciting to watch. They will play a different style of ball and new players will share the leadership role. They have enough talent to compete for one of the spots not held by the upper echelon teams in the East.
While Bosh, Lebron and Wade will have difficulties sharing the ball next season, the Raptors will be full of players that want to share the ball and will do anything asked to make the team better.
Losing Bosh may end up being the best thing that ever happened to the Raptors.
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***Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald