Admit it: youwouldn't have blamed Chris Bosh for wanting out. After his fellow stars fromthe draft class of 2003--LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade--went tothe playoffs last spring, they signed contract extensions with their teams. TheRaptors, meanwhile, have gone 93--153 since Bosh's arrival. Perhaps a change ofscenery was in order? "Not at all," says Bosh, who signed a three-year,$44 million extension in July. "The losing was hard. It's tough to come tothe gym during a 10-game losing streak, but I have a chance to be the franchiseplayer here. Opportunities like that don't come around too often."
The 6'10"Bosh is the centerpiece of G.M. Bryan Colangelo's rebuilding effort. Theleague's 2005 Executive of the Year while in Phoenix, Colangelo joined theRaptors last February and has since shaken up the roster with several trades.Among them: sending 2005 first-round pick Charlie Villanueva to the Bucks fordynamic point guard T.J. Ford, who'll now try to play Steve Nash to Bosh'sAmaré Stoudemire in a new up-tempo offense. "The coaches have been talkingabout running, running, running," says Bosh. "They want us always to beon the attack."
They may have tobe. The Raptors allowed opponents to shoot a league-high 49.1% last season andadded no discernable defensive presence over the summer. (Sorry, RashoNesterovic.) With nine new players, they play 19 of their first 31 games on theroad. "We're going to find out who we are pretty early," says Bosh."We have to hit the ground, well, running."
ProjectedStarting Lineup with 2005--06 statistics
Record: 27--55(12th in East)
Points scored:101.1 (4th in NBA)
Points allowed:104.0 (29th)
(third seasonwith the Raptors)
JORGE GARBAJOSA (R)*
ANDREA BARGNANI (R)*
*NEW ACQUISITION(R) ROOKIE (EUROLEAGUE STATISTICS) *EUROLEAGUE STATISTICS
An opposing team's scout sizes up the Raptors
Chris Boshinvites comparisons to a young Kevin Garnett. KG is more athletic and has moreskills as a ball handler, but Bosh might be a better shooter and a little moreapt to take contact.... I don't think they've got enough bulk up front. No. 1pick Andrea Bargnani from Italy and fellow rookie Uros Slokar from Slovenia areface-up guys at the offensive end, and they're not thick or muscular enough todefend NBA bigs. Rasho Nesterovic is a veteran, but he's soft.... Europeanveteran Jorge Garbajosa can play both forward spots. He's tough and a goodshooter, but is he quick enough? ... I see them taking their lumps on defenseand trying to outscore people--like every team Steve Nash has played for. ButT.J. Ford isn't nearly on Nash's level, because Ford can't hit jump shots thatkeep defenses honest.... They play hard for Sam Mitchell, but I thought he'd bemore organized. He's a little bit off-the-cuff. There are too many times whenthey come out of the huddle with a play that they haven't practiced enough andit doesn't get executed.
The Raptors set afranchise record last year by averaging 101.1 points, but when scoring intriple digits, they had the most losses (21) and the worst winning percentage(.447) in the NBA.