DeRozan guarantees playoffs for Raptors next year

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY SportsMaking the playoffs in the Eastern Conference is not exactly the toughest thing to do. The Milwaukee Bucks slid into the eighth spot with a record of 38-44. The reward for their efforts is a first round matchup with the Miami Heat. Not exactly appealing, but there is still some honor in being a playoff team.

That is an honor the Toronto Raptors have not had since 2007 2008.

Going into the season they were a trendy pick to be the team that could exceed expectations in the East. Several months and quite a few injuries later, the Raptors finished at 34-48, four games out of the postseason.

Their season was not without a few bright spots though.

Acquiring Rudy Gay in a big trade gives the team some hope for the future. They even had three separate five-game win streaks, including the last five games of the season, all against playoff teams.

But injuries really made it tough for the Raptors to make a playoff push. Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan is the only one on the team who played in all 82 games this season. It is clear DeRozan believes in his teammates though. He is guaranteeing that the Raptors make the playoffs next year.

I know for a fact next year we’re going to be there,” DeRozan said. “With the talent that we have on this team and with the way we know we can play and the way we’ve been playing, we’re definitely going to be there.”

There is no arguing with DeRozan’s logic. The Raptors do have a pretty talented roster. If they can stay healthy and get in a full training camp as a team, I could see them going .500 next year and finishing in the top eight teams in the East.

Aside from injuries, the key for the Raptors next year is going to be focus. They have quite a few quality wins on their schedule this year against teams like the Knicks, Pacers and Clippers, but they have some pretty ugly losses as well. Having an opportunity to really gel in the offseason as a team should help a lot, so I like their chances next year.