The 2011-2012 Toronto Raptors roster looks to be complete.

The Denver Nuggets did not match the offer-sheet Toronto extended to Panamanian guard/forward Gary Forbes, and he is now, officially, the newest Raptor in town.

All we seem to know about the offer is that it’s a two-year deal, with a club option for a third season.

Forbes, who torched Canada for 39 points while playing for Panama in the FIBA Americas tournament earlier this year, is 26-years-old and has only played in one NBA season. After going undrafted in 2008, Forbes went on a Jamario Moon-esque tour of the basketball world, with stints in the D-League, the Philliphines, Venezuela, Italy and Israel.

He averaged about five points and a couple of rebounds in 12-and-a-half minutes of action per game with the Nuggets last season. His shooting was fine, but nothing to get too excited about – about 45 per cent from the field and almost 33 per cent from three – but he struggled at the free throw line, converting just 67.8 per cent of his attempts at the charity stripe. Forbes also never scored 20 or more in a game, with 19 points currently holding as his career-high.

There are reasons to like this acquisition though. Forbes is a tough, gritty player who can play defence. In case you haven’t been paying attention, those are the type of players Bryan Colangelo has been trying to collect to play under the tutelage of Dwane Casey’s “Pound the Rock” philosophy. He doesn’t have much NBA experience, but seems to have some upside and the potential to go off on any given night, if given the chance.

At the end of the day, I doubt this signing is going to create headlines around the Association, but it is the type of under-the-radar move, that if done at the right price, could turn out to be very valuable in Toronto’s re-building process. To compare it with baseball, this seems like the type of move Alex Anthopoulos makes, and that’s quite alright with me.

So, now that the Raps appear to have 15 guys under contract, barring any other transactions, here is the 15-man roster heading into this helter-skelter season (keep in mind that Casey has said he wants to have an eight-to-10 man rotation):

Point Guards: Jose Calderon, Jerryd Bayless, Anthony Carter (I’d like to see Bayless given a chance to take over the starting spot if he’s playing well, and also want to see Carter get some minutes if Jose and Jerryd run into trouble.)

Shooting Guards and Small Forwards: DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Leandro Barbosa, Gary Forbes, Rasual Butler, Linas Kleiza (I’m assuming DeRozan and Johnson will start at the 2-3 spots, and I think overall, competition for minutes between the rest of the wing-players will be intense all season. I can also see a guy like Forbes playing his way into some starts along the way.)

Bigs: Andrea Bargnani, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson, Jamaal Magloire, Aaron Gray, Solomon Alabi (Bargnani will start at the four, this much we know. The questions after that are endless. Will coach Casey actually start a true centre like Magloire or even Alabi along side ‘Il Mago’ at some point this season, or will Davis and Amir split the starts beside Bargnani? The question of who gets more minutes between Davis and Johnson is intriguing in itself. Also, how many minutes can hard-nosed Aaron Gray steal away from the younger guys? The biggest question of all though, is given the new defensive philosophy put in place by Casey, will Bargnani actually be worthy of, and earn, his minutes?)

While no one is convinced the wins will be there, there are still plenty of story-lines to watch as this roster slowly comes together this season. For me, I’m looking forward to seeing which young players step up and really stamp their place in the future of this franchise, and which players fall by the wayside.

Stay tuned to RaptorBlog for the unveiling of the No. 9-ranked player in the Ultimate Raptors Rankings later today.

Comments (7)

  1. No doubt this is a bad team. But consider this: They won 22 of 82 games last year. This year, DeRozan, Davis, James Johnson, Bayless and possibly Amir Johnson figure to get noticeably better with one more year of experience. Add a supposed commitment to defence (Maybe Bargnani will ‘get it’ just a bit this year), a returning core group and a compressed schedule that favours young legs and depth, and suddenly there’s reason to believe the team might win more. It’s not impossible that this year wins 22 of 66 games this year. Still a bad team, but maybe not top-5-pick bad anymore.

    The question isn’t whether the Raptors will lose (they will), but if they will lose enough?

  2. Mike: There’s no guarantee that all of those players will improve significantly. We all assume that DeMar will show improvement because of his reported work ethic, but Davis, Johnson, Bayless and Amir could maintain last year’s performance or possibly even decline. Just because a player is young, that doesn’t mean he’s automatically going to improve every season.

    The bigger issue is that the Raptors haven’t added a stud rookie to this year’s team. Compare that to other bad teams like the Cavs (Irving and Thompson), T-Wolves, (Williams), Pistons (Knight), Bobcats (Walker and Biyombo) and so on, and those teams have a higher likelihood of showing improvement than the Raptors.

    In summary, this is a bottom-five team in 2011-12, guaranteed.

  3. Scott, I agree that this is a bottom-five team in talent terms, and in expected output. But rookies, even good ones, usually don’t add a whole lot to most teams and the compressed nature of this year means that holding over your core (which Toronto has done) and good coaching will make more difference than ever.

    No evidence that Dwane Casey is that good coach, but I agree with Mike… it’s not out of the realm of possibility that this team finished 22-44 or so. I don’t think it will happen, this team is baaaaad. But it might!

  4. Who the hell knows. I’m just looking forward to a team that puts in the effort on the defensive end and doesn’t get blown out once a week. That would be a good start for this franchise.

    • I agree with you, to discuss how much they’ll suck is pointless but to see some significant defensive improvement this year is a must if you’re going to call this year a success.

      They can’t get any worse (literally) so the chances of them making some significant progress in that department are very good.

  5. I second Skinny. Way to early to tell. Last lockout had 2 surprise teams meet in the finals in the knicks and spurs. Who knows what will happen in this shortened season

    • Skinny, PBI and Nelly, I agree. While some NBA fans of more successful franchises might see this as a laughable season of expectations in Toronto, the fact is we need to see baby steps in the right direction before we see a perennial playoff team and hopefully an eventual contender. As I’ve been saying, I go into every Raptors game hoping for a win, I can’t root for them to lose. But I want to see an improved defensive mentality and effort this season, first and foremost. If that leads to a surprise season, then great. If the Raps still end up as a bottom five team, which I do agree with Scott about, then I’ll take another high pick to add to Valanciunas and the young pieces currently in place.
      This roster is bad. The immediate future is not so bright. But it doesn’t mean that progress isn’t being made.

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