Written by: Kevin Chan
Raptors Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Jarrett Jack
SG: DeMar DeRozan
SF: Linas Kleiza
PF: Reggie Evans
C: Andrea Bargnani
Key Reserves: Sonny Weems, Jose Calderon, Leandro Barbosa
The weekend is here which means the stars will be out as the Lakers host the Raptors at Staples Center. The off season was tough for the Raptors organization who saw the teamís best player flee to South Beach. Since Boshís departure, the Raptors franchise hopes now rest on the shoulders of PF/C Andrea Bargnani. Bargnani has not lived up to the lofty expectations of a number one overall pick, instead heís posted underwhelming career averages of 13.8 points on 44% shooting and 4.8 rebounds.
For a seven footer he sure has a hard time rebounding, which is why Reggie Evans is starting at PF for the Raps. As anemic as Bargnani is at rebounding, Evans is even worse at scoring, he couldnít buy a basket if Walmart were giving them out for free. Another way to think of these two big men is to remember this equation: Evans + Bargnani = Pau Gasol (RE+AB=PG).
Jarrett Jack has usurped a slumping Calderon as the starting PG. His strength lies in bullying his way to the hoop rather than dishing the helper. Even though heís coming off the bench, Calderon is essentially splitting time with Jack. Together they are averaging 10 assists per game.
DeRozan and Kleiza round out the wing. Kleiza can hit the open three, but thatís about it. DeRozan is an athletic slasher who has made a concerted effort to be more aggressive on the offensive end of the floor. His defense and rebounding still leave much to be desired. Weems, besides having a funny name, is logging the most minutes off the bench because of his scoring abilities, but he does so at a meager 43.6% clip.
Keys to Lakers Victory:
The Raptors are probably the worst opponent the Lakers have faced this season. Artest will need to play hand-in-your-face defense on Kleiza when heís setting up from long range. Bargnani will get his points, but heís not a great defender and Gasol should dominate him. Kobe has been unbelievable early on this season: heís playing within the offensive flow, sharing the ball, and making defenders look silly. The one thing that isnít 100% is his defense, which you could blame on the knee. Arguably, the Lakers bench plus Odom could defeat the Raptors starting five, so expect to see ìthe Renegadesî log substantial minutes tonight as the Lakers cruise to victory number six.