As a site, we ranked all the NBA teams from worst to best for our release of season previews. Day seventeen’s release of a season preview ends up being the Atlantic Division Champion, Toronto Raptors. Corey Bourassa will provide a recap of their past season, an offseason recap, and then finally the season preview all of us fans are eager for.
Last Season’s Record: 49-33
Playoff Status: Swept in First Round by Washington Wizards
Most view the Toronto Raptors as having a successful season, as they won the Atlantic Division, and were in the post season for a consecutive year. Once the playoffs started, Toronto was swept and brutality beaten by the Washington Wizards. Now let’s rewind to during the season. Toronto was criticized for being a pretender, and not having the roster to be a real contender. We can now say the experts were right, as Toronto’s front court lacked toughness in the postseason, and their lack of scoring potency from their starting back court caused them to have a stagnant offensive postseason. The overall terrible team defense was crucial to Toronto being swept as well. Heading into the offseason, Toronto needed to make quite a few changes, and we will now look at what they did.
The only downside to winning in the NBA is having a late first round pick. Although there is still gem’s to be found, the luster of the draft is usually gone by pick 20. As the draft progressed, and the Raptors pick came up, the Raptors selected guard Delon Wright. Wright was overlooked in many pre-draft mock drafts, mainly for the reason of his poor three point shooting. Wright adds to the depth of their back court, due to them losing Lou Williams during the offseason. Wright will provide defense, leadership, and excellent point guard skills to the second unit, helping make Toronto a more well-rounded team. During the draft, Toronto traded Greivis Vasquez to the Milwaukee Bucks for a first and second round pick. Toronto then used the second round pick to add Norman Powell. Powell excelled at summer league, and his ability to score will most likely help him land a job off the bench for this coming season. Toronto’s draft helped add a scorer and a defender increasing their chances of being an actual contender.
Toronto had a few names hitting the market, but did not do much to retain them. During free agency, the Raptors lost forward, Amir Johnson, who signed with their divisional rival, the Boston Celtics. Lou Williams, the reigning sixth man of the year was also lost to free agency when he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. This may become a blessing for Toronto, as they may lose his scoring, but his unwillingness to play defense killed their team. The Raptors then later made a big acquisition by signing forward DeMarre Carroll from the Atlanta Hawks. Carroll has developed extremely well over the past few seasons, and is now a solid contributor on both ends of the court. Carroll should help lock down the perimeter defense, as this move is another sign Toronto was addressing their biggest weakness. Another weakness filler was the signing of Bismack Biyombo. Biyombo has not developed an offensive game yet, but his shot blocking and defense is what Toronto coveted. Biyombo will see an expanded role with Toronto, as they need to work on interior defense, and he will be their best player for this role. Finally, the Raptors signed guard, Cory Joseph to add to the back court and to play alongside with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozen. Joseph will provide more offense off the bench, and a good back court partner for Delon Wright. Toronto again did a nice job of addressing their needs during free agency, and further cementing themselves as a potential contender.
The Raptors have high hopes for this upcoming season, and they have the right for these hopes. Toronto will likely win the Atlantic Division again, as well as being a top playoff contender in the Eastern Conference. Kyle Lowry and DeRozen will need to shoulder the majority of the offensive load, and they need to do it with better efficiency. If DeRozen can develop a reliable three point shot, Toronto’s offensive will become even more deadly(has never shot better than 30.5% from three). DeMarre Carroll will yet again be used as a primary three point specialist. Carroll will likely contribute in other ways, but with no other player having as reliable shot as Carroll, this is what he will be leaned upon for. Patrick Patterson and Luis Scola will share the power forward position. Both of these players have the ability to stretch the floor with good efficiency. Jonas Valanciunas will anchor the center position. Valanciunas just received a big extension this offseason, so he will need to step-up his defensive game to match his offensive ability. Toronto’s bench includes some good players such as, Terrence Ross, Joseph, Wright, James Johnson, and Biyombo. All of these players help with either shooting, defense, or veteran leadership. Toronto is poised for a big season, and with many people looking towards teams like Cleveland, Chicago, and Miami, Toronto might be a dark horse for winning the conference. This feat will not be easy with LeBron James still playing at an elite level in the conference, but the moves Toronto made this offseason has them poised for bigger things this upcoming season.
By: Corey Bourassa and Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17