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2012-13 TORONTO RAPTORS SEASON PREVIEW
The Toronto Raptors started off the 2011-12 season with promise, but their year soon turned into one of the more forgetful in the team's history. The Raptors finished with a 23-43 record and ranked 11th in the Eastern Conference, continuing their playoff drought which has lasted since 2008. Hopes are high for second-year coach Dwane Casey, who brought a more tenacious form of defense and players slowly began to buy into his system. Over the course of the offseason, the Raptors made a series of trades to improve their team and believe that their draft could prove to be valuable to the long-term success of the franchise.
The big departures from last year's squad include guard Jerryd Bayless who signed with the Memphis Grizzlies, and James Johnson who departed for the Sacramento Kings. In the draft, the Raptors picked up guard Terrence Ross and forwards Quincy Acy and Tomislav Zubcic. In free agency, the Raptors were bold with their transactions, signing Landry Fields to be the team's primary shooting guard. Last but not least, the team made one of the biggest trades of the offseason when they picked up All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry from the Rockets, who should provide a major ball-handling presence to the Raptors' front court.
Lowry's arrival should help steady the team's point guard situation, with Jose Calderon moving to a change-of-pace guard which may be better for his style of play. At shooting guard, Terrence Ross will see plenty of playing time behind Fields. At center, the team's 2011 draft pick, Jose Valanciunas has great size for the position and will be backed up by Aaron Gray. The team also boasts a solid group of forwards, including Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozen.
Unfortunately for the Raptors, their stellar offseason comes at a time when the Atlantic division of the Eastern Conference is as strong as its been in years. The Celtics, Knicks, Sixers and Nets are all expected to be playoff-caliber, so the Raptors will have to be strong out of the gate to avoid dropping in the standings. Ultimately, the Raptors' 2012-13 season will come down to how well the new additions will gel with one another and whether or not the team's younger players can get up to speed as well. What Raptors fans can take confidence in is that their front office is building something good and is certainly well on its way to contending for a title.
TORONTO RAPTORS FRANCHISE FACTS:
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Stadium: Air Canada Centre
Conference: Eastern Conference
Division: Atlantic Division
Mascot: The Raptor
Dancers: Raptors Dance Pak
Notable Players: Marcus Camby, Vince Carter
Toronto Raptors Championship Titles: 0
Toronto Raptors Conference Titles: 0
Toronto Raptors Playoff tickets
Toronto Raptors Season Preview History
TORONTO RAPTORS EXPERIENCE:
Canada may be known for its love of hockey, but basketball has quickly grown in popularity over the past decade with the arrival of the Toronto Raptors. The team, which debuted in 1995, was a part of the National Basketball Association's attempt to expand into Canada, which also saw the establishment of the Vancouver Grizzlies. However, the Grizzlies shortly moved to Memphis, leaving the Raptors to represent Canuck fans alone.
The Raptors faced their fair share of difficulties upon becoming an official NBA team in 1995, which was to be expected of an expansion team. In their first season, the team finished 21-61, making it hard for the local fan base to put faith in Toronto. However, the Raptors did show signs of promise, beating the tough Chicago Bulls in their first season.
It wasn't until 1998 that the Raptors seemed to be on the right path toward becoming a competitive franchise. It was during this year that the squad drafted Vince Carter, who would turn out to be one of the most prolific players in the history of the organization. While playing on the court, Carter won the Rookie of the Year title in 1999.
At the turn of the century, the Raptors finally began to see a positive change of pace. In 2000, 2001 and 2002, the franchise made its first set of postseason appearances, although they did not advance to the Finals. It wasn't until 2007 that the team proved it could be a force in the Eastern Conference, when they won the division championship. Considering that Toronto was up against the likes of the Boston Celtics, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers, the victory was a surprise to many. Chris Bosh, the team's new dominant player, came through to lead the Raptors into the postseason, although their run was short-lived.
The Raptors solidified their position as a popular squad in the Eastern Conference. Although they are the only remaining team across the border, the Raptors continue to put fans in the stands in Toronto. As the franchise brings in more young, talented players, the Raptors undoubtedly have a bright future ahead of them.
Toronto Raptors Ticket Information:
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