February 22, 2011

The Raptors HQ Media Roundtable - All-Star Break Edition

4.  RHQ:  Amir, DeMar, Ed...along with sprinkles of Jose, Jerryd, Julian, and even Andrea.  There's definitely some raw talent here, so my next question, as we wind down on this round-table, is one that pertains to the upcoming off-season.  In terms of need, what position or type of player do you think this club needs most of all to take a significant step forward?
TC:  The Raps need a defensive/rebounding seven footer and a dynamic point guard - but what team doesn't, right? They also need three-point shooting on the wing, veteran leadership and to maintain cap flexibility as their rebuilding will be a multi-year process. 
One of the problems facing the club in that pursuit, though, is the very draft that the team hopes to improve through. While Kyrie Irving would be an ideal piece, it would probably take a top-two pick to nab him. If the Raptors aren't lucky enough to land there in the lottery, you're dealing with a lot of project power forwards like Perry Jones and Jared Sullinger. The Raptors already have their share of project forwards, and while upgrades may be available to them, swapping out someone that they have to make room and fill a need puts a lot of pressure on an incoming pick before they've ever played a game. 
The alternative might be Enes Kanter, a legit centre in the Andrew Bogut mold that may fit the team's needs, but will have to play incredibly well to keep the locals from rampaging in the streets over the selection of another European big man. While Kanter shares none of Bargnani's faults, it would be hard for Colangelo to keep from being preemptively flamed for again dipping into the Euro pool after so many high-profile missteps (Turkoglu, Kleiza, even Bargnani to some). Of course it shouldn't matter where a player comes from if they are they are the best player on the board, but for a team in desperate need of good publicity this is a legit factor facing Colangelo this June. It says here that the best thing for the Raptors might be a huge second half push by Harrison Barnes, either making him a safer pick or pushing a guy like Irving down to within the Raptors' grasp. 
Regardless of what happens in the draft, though, this team needs an identity. They need a cornerstone that represents the kind of things an organization would want to build around (efficiency, defensive intensity, accountability, leadership). That man is obviously not Andrea Bargnani and probably isn't DeMar DeRozan, either. For years fans of the Raptors have longed to be known for something other than shooting jumpers and playing soft, and more than any other need that this team has going into the offseason, addressing that identity should be priority number one.

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