NBA Future Power Rankings: 8. Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors: After reaching the franchise's first conference final, the Raptors decided to bring back the majority of their roster. First the Raptors made sure to re-sign All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan to a 5-year $139 million contract. DeRozan is arguably one of the top-25 players in the league and still only 26 years old. The Raptors really couldn’t afford to lose DeRozan after having such a successful season and watching previous stars like Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, and Chris Bosh force their way out of Toronto. Still, the Raptors are paying a hefty price for a shooting guard that can’t make a three to save his life and plays average defense. At least the Raptors know they are getting a player that seems to truly enjoy playing for the organization and the city of Toronto and gets along great with fellow star Kyle Lowry. In addition DeRozan has not had any major injuries thus far in his career. The Raptors have now locked up DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas, DeMarre Carroll, and Cory Joseph to long-term contracts. If they re-sign Kyle Lowry and Patrick Patterson next season, they will be set to compete with the top teams in the league for the coming years. These aforementioned players will take up all of Toronto’s cap space (especially if they manage to re-sign Lowry), meaning the Raptors will not be able to rely on free agency for improvement. Fortunately for the Raptors they can expect a lot of development from their youthful roster. All of their core should continue to get better as they reach their respective primes. In fact, Kyle Lowry, at 30 years old, is the only player on the Raptors roster not in his twenties. While building a contender, general manager Masai Ujiri has managed to fill the team’s bench with an intriguing collection of young players still on their rookie contracts. This group includes rookie 1st round picks Jakob Poeltl (9th pick) and Pascal Siakam (27th pick) as well as former 1st round picks Bruno Caboclo, Delon Wright, and Lucas Nogueira. Ujiri even managed to find a 2nd round steal in Norman Powell as he continues to prove to be one of the top GMs in the NBA. The Raptors currently own all of their future draft picks and have the Clippers lottery protected 1st round pick in next year’s draft. The only significant departure this offseason was reserve center and playoff sensation Bismack Biyombo, but the Raptors should be able to replace him with Jakob Poeltl and free agent signing Jared Sullinger (1-year $6 Million). Sullinger may have been the best under the radar signing of the entire offseason. Don’t be surprised if the Raptors have Sullinger starting at power forward opening day. Things are looking bright in Toronto, as they are ready to compete in both the present and the future.