Originally written on Crossover Chronicles  |  Last updated 11/10/14

Believe it or not, the NBA's regular season is six weeks away. To get you ready, Crossover Chronicles will be profiling a team each day for the next six weeks. This week is the Atlantic Division. Today is the Toronto Raptors.

2011-12 Record: 23-43
Key Losses:  Jerryd Bayless (signed with Milwaukee), James Johnson (traded to Sacramento), Gary Forbes (traded to Houston)
Key Acquisitions: Kyle Lowry (traded from Houston), Landry Fields (signed from New York), John Lucas III (signed from Chicago)

Depth Chart

PG SG SF PF C Kyle Lowry DeMar DeRozan Landry Fields Andrea Bargnani Amir Johnson Jose Calderon Linas Kleiza Quincy Acy Ed Davis Jonas Valanciunas John Lucas III Terrence Ross Alan Anderson Dominic McGuire Aaron Gray

The Good

The Raptors are talking a big game. There is nothing wrong with that.

After losing Chris Bosh in free agency, and kind of always being resigned to do so, this is a franchise that has kind of accepted a place in the bottom rung in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors have only made the Playoffs five times in 17 seasons and been out of the first round once. They have dealt with a disgruntled superstar in Vince Carter and a star that maybe never really was a franchise cornerstone in Chris Bosh.

The Raptors want to believe that they have at least the beginnings of a formula to begin the rise up the Eastern Conference.

As much as the acquisition of Kyle Lowry is important and should be a major offensive boost. The difference for the Raptors remains the work from Dwane Casey.

Last year, the Raptors had a defensive efficiency of 101.5, good for 12th in the league. In 2011, the Raptors were last in the league with a 109.8 defensive efficiency. The improvement on defense for this team was simply astounding and the emphasis on that end that Dwane Casey has put into this team has been a big part of that.

It was Casey who built the defense that helped the Mavericks get over the top and win the championship. It helped him land the job with Toronto. Defense remains how the Raptors will win and improve.

That is still a pretty astounding feat considering the players on his roster. Last year, there were not any players that were known as great defenders. Leandro Barbosa might have been one, but he was shipped to Indiana in a mid-season deal. Amir Johnson is a solid defender but he is not making any all-defensive teams any time soon. The team scheme is very good. That has to be the only conclusion.

What will Casey do with this new mix? That is the big question.

Kyle Lowry is a very gifted player and one of the most underrated point guards in the league. He averaged 14.3 points and 6.6 asissts per game last year. He has shown some real flashes of coming into his own. The hope is he can facilitate an offense that looks pretty good on paper with a slasher like DeMar DeRozan and a scorer like Andrea Bargnani.

The Bad

You look at this team on paper and you wonder how this team struggles to put the ball into the basket. The Raptors were 21st in offensive efficiency with 103.1 points per 100 possessions.

Bargnani is only good at scoring and shooting. DeRozan is an improving offensive player who is entering a contract year and a pretty important year contractually. Jose Calderon is a solid shooter, solid distributor and a good point guard.

Why did this offense just not work?

The team lacks a creator. There still does not appear to be a player who can create offense for themselves and for others. That is the reason that Toronto perhaps brought in a player like Kyle Lowry. But he alone probably does not solve that problem.

Bargnani is a top overall pick from a weak draft that has never really developed much more than an ability to shoot. He is not a big creator for himself or much of a defender or rebounder for a 7-footer.

The Raptors are talking a big game right now. They are setting their sights high, but it is hard to say they are moving anwywhere up into the Eastern Conference playoffs. If they do, it certainly does not feel like they can do much mroe than bow out quickly.

The Ugly

The rumor all last season and even for much of the summer involving Toronto had to do with Jose Calderon. The report was that Calderon was not happy in Toronto and that Toronto was desperate to move him.

So here we are in training camp and Calderon is still with the Raptors.

Why Toronto wants to get rid of a player that 10.5 points per game, 8.8 assists per game and posted a 16.7 PER on a team that struggled offensively is pretty astounding. With a 44.2 percent assist rate, it of course makes sense to sit him down behind another point guard.

You can see why Calderon kind of feels neglected and wants to go some place where he knows he will be a starter.

Calderon survived this once before. In 2008, Calderon and T.J. Ford split time at point guard with Calderon playing so well that Toronto pushed out the still-productive Ford out of town. That split was similarly awkward as neither player wanted to give in on the point guard battle.

The same appears to be happening now with Calderon and the incoming Lowry. Calderon says he is happy now, but we will see how things go when the season starts. If Calderon gets unhappy again, it could be a very disruptive distraction for a team with high hopes.

Have thoughts or predictions on the Raptors? Leave them in the comments below or drop us a line @CrossoverNBA on Twitter or join the discussion by hashtagging #RaptorsDay. We will be back with a closer look at the Raptors throughout the day.

[follow]

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Wizards apologize for odd Black History Month tribute

Report: McCoy may want more money from Bills

Andre Johnson laughed upon hearing he wouldn't start

Brad Stevens: LeBron 'looks like the MVP to me'

Le'Veon Bell tees off on Mel Kiper Jr. over Twitter

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Eagles ship LeSean McCoy to Bills for Kiko Alonso

Murray would reportedly give Cowboys hometown discount

Report: Giants ‘considering a run’ at Ndamukong Suh

Darnell Dockett reportedly visiting 49ers on Tuesday

David West on Brian Shaw being fired: ‘That’s bulls–t'

Hamels trade talk motivating Red Sox pitching staff

Columbus Zoo names newborn penguin after Ezekiel Elliott

Matt Barnes blasts NBA over James Harden suspension

Joe Rogan: Ronda Rousey could beat half the men

Bills tell C.J. Spiller he won't be re-signed

Ohio State self-reported funny NCAA violation

Lupul, Phaneuf, Cuthbert threaten lawsuit against TSN

Report: Adrian Peterson has trade list of five preferred teams

Murphy disagrees with Billy Bean’s homosexual 'lifestyle'

Trent Cole has ‘no respect’ for Eagles after release from team

Ronda Rousey lands free ticket to Pacquiao-Mayweather bout

Report: Celtics to pursue Love, Monroe and Gasol this summer

Trying to solve the Alex Guerrero problem

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Stevens: LeBron looks like the MVP

Spiller: EJ Manuel learned not to be 'buddy buddy' with everyone

Ten most underrated NFL free agents

Five potential landing spots for Andre Johnson

Texas-Baylor fight leads to 7 ejections

Mark Cuban will be Prez in 'Sharknado 3'

Report: Redskins interested in Suh

Report: Revis likely to hit free agency

Steve Spurrier joins Twitter

MJ makes Forbes billionaire list

Nick Young fires back at Robert Flores

Sad LeBron literally looks in mirror after loss to Rockets

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.