Toronto is coming off one of the best regular seasons’ in their franchise history. The Raptors looked like the team to beat in the Eastern Conference and the Cleveland Cavaliers did just that. Toronto made some pretty big moves after their postseason disappointment. Head coach and reigning coach of the year, Dwane Casey was fired. Then the Raptors had the trade of the offseason by acquiring Kawhi Leonard.
The Raptors finished last season with a 59-23 record, which was the top record in the East. Toronto beat the Washington Wizards in six games in the first round, before getting swept by the Cavaliers. The Raptors will look for their new acquisitions to step up and help build on last season’s success.
Toronto is in the Eastern Conference. Most people believe it is between the Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics on who is going to win the East. The Raptors will need their team to mold quickly if they want a chance to win the East. With a new system and some big changes in the lineup, Toronto may need some time to adjust.
Kyle Lowry is the starting Point Guard on the Raptors roster. Lowry averaged 16.2 point, 6.9 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game last season. He was a huge player in the Raptors success. Lowry lost his Guard partner and good friend DeMar DeRozan in the offseason, which could have him a little upset.
I expect Fred VanVleet to come off the bench in the Guard spot for the Raptors. Last season, VanVleet averaged 8.6 points and 3.2 assists per game off the bench. VanVleet broke out last season and became a key bench piece in the lineup. I expect similar and possibly better numbers from him this season.
Toronto also has Delon Wright and Norman Powell coming off the bench. Wright averaged 8.0 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game last season. Powell averaged 5.5 points per game off the bench. Both players had important roles off the bench for the Raptors lineup last season.
The Raptors picked up Kyle Collinsworth from the Dallas Mavericks and Kay Felder from the Detroit Pistons. Both players add even more depth on a solid Guard core. Toronto also has Malachi Richardson and Lorenzo Brown. The depth and amount of combinations for the Raptors Guard core is extremely good.
I believe that this is one of the top Guard cores in the entire NBA. The depth is very good, and the starters are really good as well. If Toronto has injuries throughout the lineup, they shouldn’t be worried. They can easily have the next man up mentality. I like how their Guards look.
Kawhi Leonard should start at Small Forward to begin the season. Leonard played in only nine games last season. He averaged 16.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in those games. In his last full season, Leonard averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Leonard is known for his extremely strong defensive game, which should really help out Toronto.
Serge Ibaka will start at Power Forward to begin the season. Ibaka has been a nice presence in the lineup since coming over from Orlando. Last season, Ibaka averaged 12.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He is another player that adds a strong defensive presence in the lineup as well.
The Raptors should have C.J. Miles and OG Anunoby coming off the bench this season. Miles averaged 10.0 points per game and 2.2 rebounds last season. Anunoby is coming off a solid rookie campaign. He averaged 5.9 points per game. Both players should see plenty of time off the bench at the Forward spot.
Toronto also has Pascal Siakam coming off the bench. Siakam averaged 7.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season. He is just another piece in a strong list of depth players on this roster. Siakam should see quite a bit of time off the bench at the Power Forward spot.
Just like their Guard core, the Forwards are stacked depth-wise. The starters for Toronto are great, but the amount of depth players that can play in bigger roles if needed is what really catches my eye. I believe this Forward core is set for a solid season.
Jonas Valanciunas will start at Center this season. Valanciunas averaged 12.7 points per game and 8.6 rebounds. He plays a really solid supporting offensive role. He is great at setting picks and fighting for space on the inside. His jump shot is also pretty good.
The Raptors picked up Greg Monroe in free agency to back up Valanciunas. Monroe spent time with the Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks last season. He averaged 10.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. I expect him to fill in nicely behind Valanciunas.
The lineup on Toronto looks really good and deep. The Raptors are no doubt a playoff team in my mind, but I believe there could be some regression this season. Nick Nurse is bringing a new system to the Raptors and the roster needs to build chemistry up again. I believe Toronto could see some ups and downs early in the season, but they should get better as they get closer to the playoffs.
BetOnline has Toronto listed at a win total of 55 ½. I believe that the Raptors will be a little below that. It took a near perfectly played season last year to get to 59 wins. With all the changes, I believe that they could easily lose four more games than last season. The best bet for Toronto is under the win total.