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Media Day Sees Raptors Ready To Defy Expectations

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Mike Ulmer - Raptors.com
September 27, 2010


Media Day and the Toronto Raptors have a new unofficial slogan: “hey, you never know.”

You can do a lot worse for a team that lost a consistent 24-point, 10-rebound guy in Chris Bosh who, as you may have heard, is now wintering in Miami.

But even without Bosh, the Raptors are coming off two straight seasons without a postseason game. Centre Andrea Bargnani nailed it when he said “we didn’t come from a championship last year. Things have to get better.”

Will they? That’s why they play the games.

Two things are sure. Bosh is gone but so is the illusion of his leadership.

The Raptors will miss one of the top 10 or 15 players in the game. They will not miss what Bosh was never able, or better yet, never constructed to be: a platform that raises up the entire team. You can’t miss what was not there.

“If you look at Chris, he’s more an example guy,” said guard Jarrett Jack. “Twenty-four and 10 is not a bad example to put up out there. Different people do it different ways.”

So if there is no real loss in leadership, there remains the thorny issue of points and rebounds.

Bargnani, who poured in 17.2 points and added 6.2 rebounds a night, insists there is more in the tank but he views projections the way a horse views rattlesnakes. Certainly a bump to 20 points and say eight rebounds a night would make Bosh’s departure a little less onerous.

“I try to be the best player possible,” he said. “I am looking forward toward keep on getting better like I did last year.”

After a satisfying rookie season, swingman DeMar DeRozan is poised to blow last year’s 8.6 points a game out of the water. If someone nominates him to be the face of the franchise, DeRozan insists that’s okay too. At least they will know where to find him.

“That’s fine,” he said. “I’m in the gym every night, just trying to get better.”

“It is going to be competitive for starting positions,” said coach Jay Triano. “Certainly I can see that for the guard play. I think we are a deep team as far as the backcourt positions. I can envision us playing six guys at the 1-2-3 spot.”

There is no shortage of new faces. Ex-Sun Leandro Barbosa will be part of that guard contingent. Linas Kleiza, who has averaged just under a dozen points a game in three NBA seasons is coming off a phenomenal performance for Lithuania at the World Basketball Championship in Turkey.

Like everyone connected to the team, he smells a job, a full-time lift into the NBA.

“To come in into the situation with a young team, I’m excited.”