Resources

Create Your Basketball Card

Subscribe to Raptors News

Raptors Upcoming Games

Raptors Top Bloggers

Daryl Chow
Daryl Chow
3 posts
Raptors Fan
Raptors Fan
2 posts
Pete Richards
Pete Richards
1 posts

Most Popular Posts

Raptors Betting Lines

Welcome Guest

Welcome Raptors fan! You can create an account by clicking here.

Creating an account is free and gives you access to all our features like creating your own personal Raptors fan profile page, writing your own Raptors blog, interacting with other fans, and much more.

New Raptors Fans

Raptors Forum Topics

Recent Raptors Blog Postings

View All Raptors Blog Posts


Raptors Fan

2014 Toronto Raptors Preseason Report posted by Raptors Fan

Toronto Raptors missed the second round of the 2013-14 season playoffs by one possession. With 6.2 seconds remaining in Game 7, the ball was in the hands of their best player, Kyle Lowry, who made the shot, but Paul Pierce of Brooklyn Nets rejected it. Even though this was quite disappointing, the Raptors had a lot to cheer about in the season. In December, it almost ended for the team, but the Rudy Gay trade for four good players, saved the day. Demar DeRozan was awarded the all-star berth, and Lowry was clearly considered to be number one. The Raptors ended the season with a record of 48-34, which showed the franchise was progressing.

For 2014-15 season, things look promising for the Raptors. Even though DeRozan is the best player of the team, Lowry is still the force that drives the Raptors. Lowry has good decision-making skills, apart from being aggressive and a good shooter. However, any struggles or prolonged injury to Lowry would not be good for the team.

The backcourt of Toronto Raptors has been doing the major work in offense. On the other hand, the frontcourt has provided excellent protection, which ranked the team amongst the top ten in defense. Jonas Valanciunas was the main defense contributor, and his performance this season will play a major role in the success of the team. The only drawback could be his inexperience, as he sometimes was not sure about how to manage near the post.

Toronto Raptors will most probably start with Valanciunas, Amir Johnson, Terrance Ross, DeRozan, and Lowry, which is a great combination, as it features very strong backcourt and ideal overall defense. The trade of Rudy Gay during the mid-season, has brought about ideal pairing of DeRozan and Lowry, and bettered the depth of the team. All this puts the Toronto Raptors in a better position than what they were in the last season.

Continue reading "2014 Toronto Raptors Preseason Report"


Raptors Fan

Slam Funk Scratch Card posted by Raptors Fan

Lovers of the NBA will be spending their Christmas holidays enthralled by the games being played over the festive season, given that less than 30 games have been played so far.  If you’re following the Eastern Conference your money will be on the Knicks or Miami Heat, although if you’re following the western conference you’ll be backing the Clippers or Oklahoma City Thunder.
But there is now more than one way to make a few bucks from basketball. The Slam Funk scratch card is an electronic version of many people’s weekly gamble. Combining disco and basketball in one smooth move, this instant win scratch card will be a hit with basketball-lovers and gamblers alike.  Click here to give some slots a try first, just to warm up, and then continue to the basketball goodness.
The 9 panels of the card hide groovy characters – 5 players and 1 cheerleader, and like any other scratch card three in a row means you’ve won a prize. The rainbow colour scheme matches their logo with a different colour background for every character. One groovy player is even spinning a disco ball!
Stakes on the card can range from $0.01 to $10 depending on how lucky you’re feeling. The payouts can range from 1x to 250x your wager meaning you can win up to $2500! To start the game just click ‘new card’, after which you can scratch each panel individually by clicking on each one, or by selecting ‘reveal all’ to show the characters automatically.
Given the disco and basketball mix when playing this game, you&rsContinue reading "Slam Funk Scratch Card"


Richard Kagan

Bulls looking Bullish over Toronto posted by Richard Kagan

The Chicago Bulls went to 16-8 with a win over the Toronto Raptors tonight.  Carlos Boozer scored a season high 34 points as the Bulls won 110-93.  Every starter contributed With Luol Deng and Derrick Rose playing strong games.  Joakim Noah had another double-double. 

Kyle Korver scored in double figures once again.  Chicago has a solid starting five and 2 or 3 solid guys coming off the bench.  Boozer gives the Bulls a low post presence and an active rebounder and takes some pressure off Noah grabbing every loose ball.  This team has some flexibililty and versatility and will win some games.  It is starting to look like not if the Bulls will make the playoffs which was a question the past few years, but how high a seed they will receive.

This teams looks like the most complete team since the hey-dey years of Jordan and Pippen.   There are other great teams in the East, The Celtics, the Magic, and the Heat.  They are loaded with great players.  The Bulls are a tough team and will give any team a good showing.  Considering how bad the Bulls were after the zenith of Michael, that is saying something.  Derrick Rose is a budding superstar.  He is fearless, commands the ball, is dangerous with it, and can score.

Rose is very quick and has great court sense.  He creates off the dribble.  One of the best players at doing that since Michael or Scottie.  He is a driver, a slasher and can shoot from 18 feet out.  Heck, he can shoot from 22 feet out. 

This is Boozer's 7th or 8th game since returning to the lineup.  He is is game shape and now we are seeing how talented he is.  A great addition to the team.

Continue reading "Bulls looking Bullish over Toronto"


john howard

NBA Playoffs Eastern conference posted by john howard

It's the All-Star break and time to asses where the season is at.  There are roughly 30 games left and the trading deadline is looming.  Here is a look at the playoffs if they were today.

1 Cleveland vs.  8 Chicago

2 Orlando vs   7 Miami

3 Atlanta vs 6 Charlotte

4 Boston vs 5 Toronto

Chicago looks like they have regressed overall from last year. But lately, they have started getting into the groove. Derrick Rose is unreal and they might win a game but they won't beat Cleveland.

Miami has one of the top 3 players in the game in Dwayne Wade.  This team could look different by playoff time. No matter how the team looks, it would take an incredible performance for even Wade to beat out Orlando.

Charlotte is a great story of over achieving.  They might be able to push Atlanta to a game 6, but that would be the best they could do.

The quietest success has been Toronto.  They are the 5th seed and no one is talking about them.  They have a shot to beat the Celtics if Boston is plagued with injuries.  But this has been a good year so far for the Raptors.

Boston has fallen from favorite to the 4th seed.  They still have the experience and firepower to go all the way. But, to do that everyone is going to have to get healthy and be at peak level which hasn't happened this year. Time is running out on the Celtics.

3 Atlanta has the best team in years.  They could be the underdog favorite after the first round.  A matchup with Orlando in round 2 is going to be fun.  Should they get past the Magic, they will be convinced they can beat anybody. 

Continue reading "NBA Playoffs Eastern conference"


Brad Hurt

Grizzlies 115, Raptors 107 posted by Brad Hurt

This just in : Zach Randolph is a beast.  Everyone who has said he would be a cancer and wouldn't play hard and is the same thug he was in Portland isn't looking very smart right now.  Randolph can single-handedly dominate the post for the Grizzlies this season.  He proved as much last night against the Toronto Raptors as the Grizz earned their first win of the season 115-107 on Friday.  Randolph led the Grizzlies with 30 points and seven rebounds.

Chris Bosh led all scorers with 37 points.  Sure, that is a high number, but the Grizzlies forced him to try to beat them single-handedly, focusing their defense on Hedo Turkoglu, who burned them in the past as a member of the Sacramento Kings.  Turkoglu managed only 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting.

The Grizzlies showed some of their youth with an inability to close the Raptors out when they built a double-digit lead in the first half, and lost the third quarter scoring battle as usual, but they outscored the visitors 39-28 in the fourth quarter to snuff out any hope of a comeback.

Along with Randolph, the Grizzlies got double figures from the other four starters, as well as 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench from rookie Demarre Carroll, who looks like he could be a stud.  Who needs DeJuan Blair when you can get a guy who will sacrifice his body for a loose ball, snatch rebounds out of nowhere and knock down a shot in the clutch?  Carroll earned a reputation as a scorer at Missouri, but he has shown there is little he can't do on the professional level, and he doesn't appear rattled yet in his first two appearances.  I'm sure his day will come, though.  It's a long season, and it drags down every rookie sooner or later.

Continue reading "Grizzlies 115, Raptors 107"


john howard

Toronto Raptors preseason posted by john howard

I have always enjoyed the Toronto Raptors. There is something about them that catches my eye.  They always have a knack for finding talent.  They just have a hard time keeping it.  This year they managed to bring one in: Hedo Turkoglu.

This year will be a year of gelling and growing.  How long will it take for Turkoglu, Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, and Jarrett Jack to gel?  The sooner the better.  This team should be one that improves throughout the year.

A lot of how much they improves relies on the progress of youngsters, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, and Marco Belinelli.   Toronto has a thin bench and one of these guys will start.  But, the other 2 will see plenty of time.  They are a shooting guard away from making the play offs and a year away from acquiring more bench help or having it develop.

This team is doing a nice job.

Continue reading "Toronto Raptors preseason"


Colin Linneweber

The NBA Draft's Five Best Second Overall Picks Since 1984 & Sammy Sosa Is a Joke and He Does Not Deserve Induction into the HOF posted by Colin Linneweber

The NBA Draft's Five Best Second Overall Picks Since 1984

The Los Angeles Clippers are expected to pick former Oklahoma Sooners star Blake Griffin Thursday with the first overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

However, there is not a consensus projection for the No. 2 pick and basketball analysts remain largely uncertain who the Memphis Grizzlies will choose tomorrow in Gotham.

In recognition of the NBA Draft, I have decided to rank the five most accomplished players selected second overall in the past quarter century.

1) Jason Kidd

Kidd, 36, attended the University of California and helped resurrect the Golden Bears dormant basketball program with his stellar play at the point guard position.

After being honored as a First Team All-American as a sophomore, Kidd declared for the NBA Draft and was selected 2nd overall by the Dallas Mavericks in 1994.

Unfortunately, the Bay Area native’s initial stint with the Mavericks didn’t materialize as most anticipated it would.

According to legend, singer Toni Braxton went to the Mavs team hotel to meet Kidd after a game.

However, instead of rendezvousing with Kidd, Braxton instead left with his Dallas teammate Jimmy Jackson and the two purportedly fornicated until the wee hours.

Subsequently, Kidd loathed Jackson and he demanded an escape from “Big D.”

Kidd, a 9-time All-Star and 6-time All-NBA nomination, was traded to the Phoenix Suns at the conclusion of the 1996 season and his career began to truly ascend in the desert.

Continue reading "The NBA Draft's Five Best Second ..."


Colin Linneweber

The 5 Best Second Overall Selections in the NBA Draft Since 1984 posted by Colin Linneweber

The Los Angeles Clippers are expected to pick former Oklahoma Sooners star Blake Griffin Thursday with the first overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. 

However, there is not a consensus projection for the No. 2 pick and basketball analysts remain largely uncertain who the Memphis Grizzlies will choose tomorrow in Gotham.

In recognition of the NBA Draft, I have decided to rank the five most accomplished players selected second overall in the past quarter century.


1)  Jason Kidd 

Kidd, 36, attended the University of California and helped resurrect the Golden Bears dormant basketball program with his stellar play at the point guard position. 

After being honored as a First Team All-American as a sophomore, Kidd declared for the NBA Draft and was selected second overall by the Dallas Mavericks in 1994. 

Unfortunately, the Bay Area native’s initial stint with the Mavericks didn’t materialize as most anticipated it would. 

According to legend, singer Toni Braxton went to the Mavs team hotel to meet Kidd for a date after a game. 

 However, instead of rendezvousing with Kidd, Braxton instead left with his Dallas teammate Jimmy Jackson and the two purportedly fornicated until the wee hours. 

Subsequently, Kidd loathed Jackson and he demanded an escape from “Big D.” 

Kidd, a 9-time All-Star and 6-time All-NBA nomination, was traded to the Phoenix Suns at the conclusion of the 1996 season and his career began to truly ascend in the desert. 

Continue reading "The 5 Best Second Overall Selections ..."


john howard

Toronto Raptors and the draft. posted by john howard

The Raptors had a horrible season finishing third from the bottom in the East.  Anthony Parker, Shawn Marion, and Jake Voskhul are all free agents.  That is 2 starters and a top bench player.  That leaves a shaky starting lineup:

PG--JOSE CALERSON  SG--JASON KOPONO  SF--JEOY GRAHAM  PF---CHRIS BOSH  C--ANDREA BARNANI

And a very weak bench.  Things may get worse before they get better.  I don't know of any trades, but perhaps a splash in free agency. It's not a big market this year.  And next year, Bosh is a free agent.  So the draft is the best bet for now.  The Raptors have the 9th pick in the draft.  There is bad news and great news with the 9th pick.  Of the past 14 drafts 7 have produced startes, 5 bench players and 3 flops.  The bad news is out of the top 10 picks, the 9 spot produces the least amount of startes and the most number of busts.  The great news is that the 7 starters are all-starts.  Picking first or third also produced 7 all-starts in that same span.  The 9th pick has yielded just as many all-starts as the 2nd, 6th, 7th, and 8th combined! So, the 9th spot is truly a hit or miss.  There isn't much in between.

The top 2 choices on mock boards appear to be either Gerald Henderson from Duke or Tyreke Evans from Memphis.  Both are sf/sg type guys who are athletic.  An all-star to go along side Bosh would be great.  This team is definately retooling.

Continue reading "Toronto Raptors and the draft."


Ryan Greyslak

Catching up with the Phoenix Suns rumors this off season and who should be kept around for next year? posted by Ryan Greyslak

There have been many rumors surrounding the Phoenix Suns since they missed the playoffs this season. Some of these rumored trades would actually help the team, but some of the options are only opportunities to cut payroll for the oncoming season and further destroy the team. Some of the biggest names involved in these rumors for the team have been Amare Stoudemire, Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Nash, Leandro Barbosa, and Jason Richardson.

 Shaq Rumors 

Shaquille O’Neal has not been shy about the fact that he would not mind playing for another team other then the Phoenix Suns and is interested in a contract to extend him for one to two more years. Some of the rumored teams to be interested in Shaq are Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, and New Orleans Hornets.

 

Cleveland has reportedly offered Ben Wallace (who might request a buyout or retire) and Sasha Pavlovich who has a non guaranteed contract. The Suns could potentially get out of both players and save money off payroll this year. This is a bad deal for the Suns and I would not expect it to happen for these players. They would get nothing for Shaq.

 

Another of the rumored teams interested in Shaq are the Dallas Mavericks. One of the rumored packages would send Jerry Stackhouse expiring contract and Erick Dampier. Dampier is guaranteed for the next two years at over 23 million. This again would be a horrible trade for the team and they would essentially be giving Shaq up for a smaller expiring contract and a slower less effective center. If the Suns have any talks with Dallas they should absolutely involve Josh Howard but it is rumored Sarver does not want to do business with Cuban.

Continue reading "Catching up with the Phoenix Suns ..."

Toronto Raptors News

View All Toronto Raptors News


The 10-man rotation, starring the case *for* Kobe Bryant (or, at least, that it's not

A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C : Silver Screen and Roll . After reading Henry Abbott's ESPN the Magazine piece arguing that Kobe Bryant is the reason for the Los Angeles Lakers' downfall, Drew Garrison presents the counterargument, suggesting that the reasons for the franchise's precipitous recent decline are numerous, varied and not all contained within the Mamba's jaw-jut. A worthwhile hearing for the defense. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Basketball: Sign up and join a league today! ] PF : SLAM . Ryan Jones on why LeBron James is the NBA's best player, why ( ownership of the Podoloff aside) there's no real debate on the matter, and how the shifting of James' circumstances as he rejoins a significantly more loaded Cleveland Cavaliers could wind up changing that soon enough. SF : Sports on Earth . Howard Megdal on how —all the internecine drama , back-room dealings and franchise-jumping aside —we've still got quite a bit to learn about exactly what kind of NBA head coach Jason Kidd's going to be. SG : ChicagoNow . Yes, Derrick Rose looked great on Monday, but the Chicago Bulls' loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers showed a few persistent and perhaps worrisome questions for Tom Thibodeau's club, according to Doug Thonus. PG : National Post . Eric Koreen floats an idea that Our Fearless Leader has championed in the past : shorten the preseason and make the regular season longer, not in games played, but in dates covered. 6th : A Wolf Among Wolves . William Bohl sees the Minnesota Timberwolves running more sets for midrange jumpers under once-and-future head coach Flip Saunders, and he wonders whether that approach will prove beneficial for a young Wolves roster without very many knockdown shooters. ( Kelly's not real bullish on it , for what it's worth.) 7th : Raptors Republic . Smart stuff from Blake Murphy on the interesting dilemma facing the Toronto Raptors and surprise 2014 first-round draft pick Bruno Caboclo —how does a team setting its sights on the conference finals find the floor time to develop an incredibly raw player when it doesn't have its own exclusive D-League affiliate? 8th : Detroit Bad Boys . Considering what a more efficient Josh Smith might look like, what Stan Van Gundy's done this preseason to try to conjure such a performance, and whether it's more likely that Smith turns in that brand of play for the Detroit Pistons or gets moved before the February trade deadline. 9th : Posting and Toasting . Derek Fisher says Amar'e Stoudemire —he of the wine baths of indeterminate medical benefit —isn't operating under any sort of minute or playing-time restrictions, and the former All-Star big man says he's feeling great. What does this mean for STAT's role on the New York Knicks this year? 10th : Los Angeles Times . Chris Douglas-Roberts is wearing short shorts —or, at least, the shortest shorts he was able to get from the Los Angeles Clippers —in hopes that they "will give him the freedom to be an elite perimeter defender." - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


DeRozan scores 15, Raptors beat Knicks 83-80 (Yahoo Sports)

[read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


The 10-man rotation, starring the case *for* Kobe Bryant (or, at least, that it's not

A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C : Silver Screen and Roll . After reading Henry Abbott's ESPN the Magazine piece arguing that Kobe Bryant is the reason for the Los Angeles Lakers' downfall, Drew Garrison presents the counterargument, suggesting that the reasons for the franchise's precipitous recent decline are numerous, varied and not all contained within the Mamba's jaw-jut. A worthwhile hearing for the defense. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Basketball: Sign up and join a league today! ] PF : SLAM . Ryan Jones on why LeBron James is the NBA's best player, why ( ownership of the Podoloff aside) there's no real debate on the matter, and how the shifting of James' circumstances as he rejoins a significantly more loaded Cleveland Cavaliers could wind up changing that soon enough. SF : Sports on Earth . Howard Megdal on how —all the internecine drama , back-room dealings and franchise-jumping aside —we've still got quite a bit to learn about exactly what kind of NBA head coach Jason Kidd's going to be. SG : ChicagoNow . Yes, Derrick Rose looked great on Monday, but the Chicago Bulls' loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers showed a few persistent and perhaps worrisome questions for Tom Thibodeau's club, according to Doug Thonus. PG : National Post . Eric Koreen floats an idea that Our Fearless Leader has championed in the past : shorten the preseason and make the regular season longer, not in games played, but in dates covered. 6th : A Wolf Among Wolves . William Bohl sees the Minnesota Timberwolves running more sets for midrange jumpers under once-and-future head coach Flip Saunders, and he wonders whether that approach will prove beneficial for a young Wolves roster without very many knockdown shooters. ( Kelly's not real bullish on it , for what it's worth.) 7th : Raptors Republic . Smart stuff from Blake Murphy on the interesting dilemma facing the Toronto Raptors and surprise 2014 first-round draft pick Bruno Caboclo —how does a team setting its sights on the conference finals find the floor time to develop an incredibly raw player when it doesn't have its own exclusive D-League affiliate? 8th : Detroit Bad Boys . Considering what a more efficient Josh Smith might look like, what Stan Van Gundy's done this preseason to try to conjure such a performance, and whether it's more likely that Smith turns in that brand of play for the Detroit Pistons or gets moved before the February trade deadline. 9th : Posting and Toasting . Derek Fisher says Amar'e Stoudemire —he of the wine baths of indeterminate medical benefit —isn't operating under any sort of minute or playing-time restrictions, and the former All-Star big man says he's feeling great. What does this mean for STAT's role on the New York Knicks this year? 10th : Los Angeles Times . Chris Douglas-Roberts is wearing short shorts —or, at least, the shortest shorts he was able to get from the Los Angeles Clippers —in hopes that they "will give him the freedom to be an elite perimeter defender." - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Phoenix Suns (Ball Don't Lie)

The Arizona desert turned up a UFO crash in 1953, purple alien eggs just last year and Lord knows what else in the 60 years between. It’s only natural the Phoenix Suns add another wrinkle to their own weird science experiment, turning a two-headed snake into a three-headed monster in the backcourt. In a strange summer, general manager Ryan McDonough agreed to  a four-year, $27 million contract with Sacramento Kings dynamo Isaiah Thomas on the day the NBA’s moratorium lifted, seemingly signaling the end of fellow restricted free agent point guard Eric Bledsoe’s fun in the Arizona sun. But the NBA Executive of the Year runner-up doubled down, inking Mini LeBron to a five-year, $70 million deal some two months later. With All-NBA Third Team selection Goran Dragic also in the Phoenix mix, McDonough effectively created the league’s most dangerous polycephalous point guard. So, the Suns will roll the dice with a troika of All-Star-caliber guards, identified flying object Gerald Green and a mysterious frontcourt in an attempt to recreate last year’s bizarre 48-34 record, which tied the 2007-08 Golden State Warriors for the best season by a team that didn't make the playoffs since the NBA switched to the 16-team playoff format in 1984. Under NBA Coach of the Year runner-up (noticing a trend here) Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix played at a top-10 pace in his first season at the helm, and the Suns will run again, even faster if possible. Only, they’ll have to do so without Channing Frye, whose floor-stretching capacity from the power forward position translated into 8.3 additional points per 100 possessions in his 28.2 minutes a night on the floor, according to Basketball-Reference.com . Out of the Frye pan and into the fire will be Markieff Morris, whose own breakout 2013-14 season (2,153 minutes, 13.8 points, six rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, 56.4 True Shooting percentage, 18.4 Player Efficiency Rating) earned him a four-year, $52 million deal to split unevenly with his twin brother, Marcus Morris. Sharpshooting veteran free agent forward Anthony Tolliver (41.3 percent on a career-high 247 3-point tries for Charlotte last year) and young center projects Miles Plumlee and Alex Len round out a bigs mess. Add a pair of potential mid-first-round steals in T.J. Warren and Tyler Ennis, another Dragic named Zoran and a post- “super extreme” DUI suspension P.J. Tucker, and it should be another supernatural season for the 2013-14 League Pass legends. Last year taught us this much about the Suns: They are here. 2013-14 season in 140 characters or less: What the Ish is this? The weirdest collection of awesome under the Suns. Did the summer help at all? The Suns let their most productive big walk , spent the money Frye got in Orlando on a third point guard , handed one contract to a pair of twins , signed their best player’s brother and drafted one half of Bojan and Bogdan Bogdanovic — all as their starting small forward spent a no expenses paid three-day vacation in county jail . So … just yourtypical NBA offseason? Seriously, that’s freaky, even by their standards. Go-to offseason acquisition: Had Thomas not stood just 69 inches tall, he would have commanded far more than $27 million over four years in free agency. After all, the Sactown sparkplug was one of six players to average 20 points and six assists while posting a PER above 20 this past season. The others: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook. Those dudes aren’t so bad. Thomas comes with another caveat, though, since Sacramento’s fast-paced offense and non-existent defense over the past decade has produced plenty of padded stats that haven’t translated elsewhere. In the past 10 years, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Kevin Martin, Ron Artest, Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic combined for one 20-point-per-game season upon leaving the Kings. At the very least, Thomas allows Hornacek to keep some combo of Bledsoe, Dragic and Thomas on the floor for the majority of the game, strumming that double-necked point-guard guitar all night long. The fact that Thomas’ per-minute averages have remained steady as both a starter and reserve in his three-year career is an encouraging sign that the Suns will be able to keep making the same sweet music they did last season. Glaring weakness: The Suns don’t quite have a black hole in the middle, but it’s an awful dark mass in the space-time continuum. Plumlee and Len are expected to receive the bulk of those minutes, and that duo (mostly Plumlee, due to the multiple injuries that scuttled Len's rookie season) anchored the NBA’s fourth-worst efficiency differential at the position last season, according to HoopsStats.com (minus-3.8). Plumlee’s minutes plunged throughout 2013-14 as Hornacek got more comfortable playing Markieff Morris and the since-departed Frye in smaller, more offensively potent lineups. As a result, though, Phoenix allowed 42.2 points in the paint per game , also the league’s fourth-worst group. Not even highly regarded defensive assistant coach Mike Longabardi could help the Suns rise above the middle of the pack in points allowed per possession. Plumlee is still their best bet to clog the middle on defense, even if he does the same on offense. Contributor with something to prove: Following his client’s second knee surgery in three years, Bledsoe's agent spent the offseason demanding a max contract for a player who has started all of 78 NBA games. McDonough, who reportedly offered four years and $48 million, entered a summer-long staring contest with Rich Paul, and the two sides met closer to Bledsoe's demands. To say the 24-year-old has something to prove is an understatement. For chunks of last season, Bledsoe replicated what so many projected for Chris Paul's former backup. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound brick of muscle averaged 17.7 points (57.8 TS%), 5.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds while generally tormenting opposing backcourts alongside Dragic in 43 games. That's encouraging for a fourth-year point guard on his rookie contract; now it's expected from an eight-figure-salaried franchise player. Potential breakout stud: Double ankle surgeries stunted Year 1 of The Alex Len Project, presenting a built-in excuse for the No. 5 overall pick’s PER (7.3), true shooting percentage (46.9) and statistical averages over 42 games (two points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.4 blocks in 8.6 minutes per game). Now, double finger fractures — on the same right pinkie, mind you — offer another easy excuse for the 7-foot-1 Ukrainian to start slow out of the gate. Yet Len made huge strides from his freshman to sophomore seasons at Maryland, and the 21-year-old has the potential to take a similar step forward after one year under Hornacek and Longabardi. He added the customary 15 pounds of muscle, and then collected six points, six boards and a pair of blocks before breaking his finger 25 minutes into Summer League. The re-broken finger is a setback for a player in desperate need of preseason practice, but he’ll still start the regular season healthy, and the minutes will be there for him to demonstrate his improvement, especially if he develops a mid-range jumper. Best-case scenario: It won’t be easy for Dragic to repeat his breakout All-NBA season, Green to shoot 3’s at a 40 percent clip again and Tolliver to replace Frye’s 2,312 minutes, but some combo of Bledsoe’s health, the addition of Thomas and the improvements of the Morris twins, Plumlee and/or Len should help the Suns recreate the magic that made them the NBA darlings of 2013-14. Even then, they’ll still be navigating a crowded Western Conference playoff picture that may also include Anthony Davis’ New Orleans Pelicans — all for the right to face the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers or San Antonio Spurs in the first round. Them’s the breaks for a franchise on the rise. If everything falls apart: Even if the science experiment takes a turn for the worse and the Suns just miss the postseason for a second straight year, McDonough will still have a pair of lottery picks at his disposal. Phoenix still owns a top-five protected pick from the Steve Nash trade, so barring a bit of Los Angeles Lakers luck, the worst-case scenario — a couple of mid-round picks — isn’t the worst consolation prize. Unless, of course, the team’s talented young core undergoes an abduction of sorts. Stranger things have happened in the Arizona desert. The Suns are on standing on the edge of an event horizon. Strap in for another weird, wild ride. Kelly Dwyer’s Best Guess at a Record: Phoenix will finish 47-35, eighth in the Western Conference. Read all of Ball Don't Lie's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews (links added as they're published): EASTERN CONFERENCE Atlanta Hawks • Boston Celtics • Brooklyn Nets • Charlotte Hornets • Chicago Bulls • Cleveland Cavaliers • Detroit Pistons • Indiana Pacers • Miami Heat • Milwaukee Bucks • New York Knicks • Orlando Magic • Philadelphia 76ers • Toronto Raptors • Washington Wizards WESTERN CONFERENCE Dallas Mavericks • Denver Nuggets • Golden State Warriors • Houston Rockets • Los Angeles Clippers • Los Angeles Lakers • Memphis Grizzlies • Minnesota Timberwolves • New Orleans Pelicans • Oklahoma City Thunder • Phoenix Suns • Portland Trail Blazers • Sacramento Kings • San Antonio Spurs • Utah Jazz - - - - - - - Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


The 10-man rotation, starring the case *for* Kobe Bryant (or, at least, that it's not

A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C : Silver Screen and Roll . After reading Henry Abbott's ESPN the Magazine piece arguing that Kobe Bryant is the reason for the Los Angeles Lakers' downfall, Drew Garrison presents the counterargument, suggesting that the reasons for the franchise's precipitous recent decline are numerous, varied and not all contained within the Mamba's jaw-jut. A worthwhile hearing for the defense. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Basketball: Sign up and join a league today! ] PF : SLAM . Ryan Jones on why LeBron James is the NBA's best player, why ( ownership of the Podoloff aside) there's no real debate on the matter, and how the shifting of James' circumstances as he rejoins a significantly moreloaded Cleveland Cavaliers could wind up changing that soon enough. SF : Sports on Earth . Howard Megdal on how —all the internecine drama , back-room dealings and franchise-jumping aside —we've still got quite a bit to learn about exactly what kind of NBA head coach Jason Kidd's going to be. SG : ChicagoNow . Yes, Derrick Rose looked great on Monday, but the Chicago Bulls' loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers showed a few persistent and perhaps worrisome questions for Tom Thibodeau's club, according to Doug Thonus. PG : National Post . Eric Koreen floats an idea that Our Fearless Leader has championed in the past : shorten the preseason and make the regular season longer, not in games played, but in dates covered. 6th : A Wolf Among Wolves . William Bohl sees the Minnesota Timberwolves running more sets for midrange jumpers under once-and-future head coach Flip Saunders, and he wonders whether that approach will prove beneficial for a young Wolves roster without very many knockdown shooters. ( Kelly's not real bullish on it , for what it's worth.) 7th : Raptors Republic . Smart stuff from Blake Murphy on the interesting dilemma facing the Toronto Raptors and surprise 2014 first-round draft pick Bruno Caboclo —how does a team setting its sights on the conference finals find the floor time to develop an incredibly raw player when it doesn't have its own exclusive D-League affiliate? 8th : Detroit Bad Boys . Considering what a more efficient Josh Smith might look like, what Stan Van Gundy's done this preseason to try to conjure such a performance, and whether it's more likely that Smith turns in that brand of play for the Detroit Pistons or gets moved before the February trade deadline. 9th : Posting and Toasting . Derek Fisher says Amar'e Stoudemire —he of the wine baths of indeterminate medical benefit —isn't operating under any sort of minute or playing-time restrictions, and the former All-Star big man says he's feeling great. What does this mean for STAT's role on the New York Knicks this year? 10th : Los Angeles Times . Chris Douglas-Roberts is wearing short shorts —or, at least, the shortest shorts he was able to get from the Los Angeles Clippers —in hopes that they "will give him the freedom to be an elite perimeter defender." - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

This site is not affiliated, owned, or controlled or otherwise connected in any way to the Toronto Raptors or the National Basketball Association (NBA) or any of its entities.