Toronto, ON- I have written much on what Colangelo has done, but never on what is to be expected. To put this article into context, I am a Bryan Colangelo fan, and I advocated a two-year contract extension a couple of months before his actual extension was finalized. I believe he has a great basketball mind, is a talent scout, and is capable of pulling off creative trades at will. I also believe he was damned from the beginning of his tenure in Toronto by being forced to build a team around Chris Bosh. But enough about the past, Raptors’ fans have at least another two years of Bryan Colangelo basketball, so what can we expect from it?
No more Euros- It is ironic that I say this while the Raptors are currently sporting three European born players (Bargnani, Calderon and Kleiza.) Furthermore, there are rumours the Raps might bid on free agent Marc Gasol this coming off-season.
But what I mean when I say “No More Euros,”is that the Raptors make a commitment to eliminating the attitude that has been associated with European players in Toronto. There always have been, are, and will be great European basketball players, but unfortunately, Toronto has never laid claim to any of them. The Raptors need to stress a hard-nosed style of basketball, where players should look to be aggressive on the offensive side, battle in the paint and play defense. The European Raptors Era is over, as the team has tortured itself long enough with players with lazy attitudes on the defensive end. Colangelo has begun a second era with the introduction of exciting, energetic players like Demar Derozan and Ed Davis. Colangelo should continue to push for North American talent, and form a team that will hustle and sacrifice individual gain for the success of the team.
Continue bringing in young players with upside- Colangelo has a solid core of young players. Say what you want about them, but guys like James Johnson, Amir Johnson, Jerryd Bayless (and the aforementioned Derozan and Davis) have all performed well in their short tenures with the team. This stockpiling of young players (whether it be through draft, trade or free agency,) is important, as it has been well documented that many established NBA players do not want to play in Toronto. We have also seen Colangelo take on low-risk high-reward players like Patrick O’Bryant and Alexis Ajinca. While neither has shown any promise, it may be a good idea for Colangelo to continue looking for diamond in the rough project players. If these trends continue, two years from now, the Raptors should have a nucleus of players who feel comfortable playing with each other and in Toronto.
Develop the young players– When Bryan Colangelo entered his first season as GM of the Raptors, he completely overturned the lineup from the year prior. Colangelo brought in 11 new players in 2006. In 2008,he once again overhauled the lineup with 11 new faces. In 2009, 8 new players were introduced and finally, this season, 14 new players wore a Raptors Jersey.
The reason for these overhauls was because the Raptors, MLSE and fans were under a false perception that we had a winning core, led by a ‘superstar’ in Chris Bosh. As mentioned earlier, Colangelo continually acquired players to compliment Bosh and make him happy. When it didn’t work, Colangelo would overhaul, only keeping a small core, once again led by Bosh. What once looked like interesting moves (acquisitions like Jermaine O’Neal, TJ Ford, Hedo Turkoglu) to support Chris Bosh, now seem like futile stopgaps that led us down the proverbial bunny hole. With Bosh gone, Colangelo can now set up the team he wants and let it grow. Don’t expect the trend of overhauls to continue in this second Colangelo tenure. There is no false perception that the Raptors are a contender, so Colangelo can take his time and let his young squad develop into quality NBA players.
These are some of the things that can be expected from the next two or three years of Colangelo’s tenure. Whether this spawns success and prosperity is still to be seen, but after what Raptors’ fans have endured in the past few years, the only way to go is up.
Photo Credit: NBA.com, CBC Sports