Florida's Beal fits Raptors or Wizards

Updated: April 18, 2012, 1:28 PM ET
By David Thorpe

The Toronto Raptors, believe it or not, had about as perfect a season as they could have hoped for, outside of becoming a serious contender, that is.

First and foremost, first-year coach Dwayne Casey proved to be a keeper, convincing his players to defend with better purpose and passion. Perhaps only the New York Knicks improved as much on defense from last season, and this improvement in Toronto will be a strong foundation moving forward.

Then they watched as their top pick from last June's draft, Jonas Valanciunas, proved to be the exciting prospect they had hoped for, as he played well last summer and through his current season in Europe. And all this happened while the Raptors kept losing games, assuring them of a very high draft pick in the 2012 draft. Indeed, this team obviously still has a lot of needs. But it looks like the Raptors should be able to fill an important spot no matter where they pick in the lottery come May 30. This is a team that is rapidly acquiring and developing talent.