Well, now that the season is over, it's time to look back. But for the Raptors, unlike last year, they won't be looking back at how good their year was and how much they improved, in fact it'll be quite the opposite.
The Raptors came into the season with high expectations, which only got higher after a 24-7 start to the season. Everything was clicking, they had an elite offence and a stellar defence and they were showing the look of a two-way powerhouse. Excitement among Raptors fans was at an all time high and the world looked beautiful to us.
Then the DeRozan injury. A month and a half without your All-Star is never a good thing, but the Raps had a lot of depth which helped to make up for his absence. However, with only one legit stud to go to at the end of games, that being Kyle Lowry, it put a lot of pressure on Kyle to shoulder the load while DeMar was out, and to his credit he did it admirably. This lead to him being an All-Star starter and even having his name in MVP conversations.
However, as the season went along, Kyle started to lose it. Every one of his stats went down as he clearly wasn't himself. Back injuries, hand injuries, you name it and he probably had it. Without their engine being at 100% (or even 50%) the Raps began to crumble. As good as DeMar was playing, he isn't a good enough leader to drive other people while he's on the floor, at least not like Kyle can.
And this is where the Raps went from great to pathetic real quick (or 100-0 real quick, if you will). It was common knowledge that Kyle Lowry is the engine that drove the team, and his absence and bad health led to lackluster play, especially defensively. There's only so far playing with heart can take you when you're as banged up as he is. Eventually, this led to the downward spiral that you have been painfully watching for months now. I'll spare you by not talking about the end of the season, you're welcome.
However, what I will say is that I don't think the Raps need to make any desperation moves or blow up the team like many fans are saying. With Landry Fields, Chuck Hayes, Amir Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough all coming off the books, the team is going to have tons of cap space to work with. A backup center who can defend, a starter at the 3 and the 4 is really all that is necessary at this point. With a full offseason for Lowry to shake off the injuries, he should come back next year ready to show off why he was an All-Star starter this year.
Don't worry Raps fans, next year will be fun.