Photo Credit: Sportsnet
The look at all 30 NBA teams continues with the Raptors as we continue the playoff teams in the count down of East teams. Check out previous teams by clicking on the team name: Hornets / Wizards / Knicks / Pistons / Cavs / Bulls / Magic / Hawks.
They lost Kawhi. The Claw is gone. That was the offseason. Danny Green was a bigger loss than some might expect, but the signing of Hollis-Jefferson was underrated. The bottom line is the loss of Kawhi. This is not quite like the Cavs losing LeBron, it’s closer to when he left a decent roster behind in Miami. Stanley Johnson will get a chance to revive a career that has been disappointing for a top 10 pick. Overall, it was a rough offseason for the Raptors. It started and ended with 1 player.
G: Kyle Lowry
G: Fred Van Vleet
F: OG Anunoby
F: Pascal Siakam
C: Marc Gasol
Bench: Norman Powell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Serge Ibaka and Stanley Johnson
This lineup should have great chemistry despite the glaring loss. They just won an NBA Championship and have a decent amount of talent. Pascal Siakam is the perfect modern NBA power forward and Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol will continue to bring some veteran leadership. Anunoby is the biggest wildcard on the team as he has been injured a lot since being drafted but has huge upside and is already a solid defender. The roster fits well together.
Prediction: 39-43 (7th in East) / 1st Round Exit
I said this will be more like LeBron leaving Miami for a reason. Kawhi loss is huge (about 19 wins) but they have a talented roster still. Kyle Lowry while overrated is still a fine regular season player and a quality veteran. Siakam is on the rise in his NBA career and learned to do it on the highest stage next to one of the game’s best. Gasol and Ibaka both will keep rim-protecting and stretching the floor. The key for this team could be Anunoby and Van Vleet stepping up. This team really has a decent ceiling. The next 4 teams in my standings all are 5-7 games ahead of Raptors, but if Anunoby or Van Vleet can be solid options on offense, they could close that gap quickly. All 4 of those teams have major flaws and overall every playoff team from the East last year got a little worse. Whether its a team like the Pacers or Nets who will have the best players on the side-lines for most the year or the 76ers losing their closer and shooters. The Raptors took the biggest loss which will drop them from 2-7 but don’t rule this team out as a surprise in the east.
The future for this team is not ideal. They don’t have a ton of youth and won’t be a high free-agent destination. The key for this team will be to capitalize on these veterans and hit your draft picks. Eventually, build back to the point where you could trade for another semi-star or draft one that can get you back to true contention. While the future is murky long-term they have a great GM at the moment and that can always help.
*Everything in this article was discussed with Louie Snyder