2018-2019 Off the Glass Team Preview Series: Toronto Raptors
The 2018-2019 NBA season starts October 16th and to get you ready for tip-off, Off the Glass is previewing all 30 teams. Today we look at the Toronto Raptors.
59-29, 1st in the Atlantic Division. Lost 4-0 in the second-round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
The Raptors posted a franchise best 59 regular season wins, the second most in the entire NBA last year. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan led a feisty pack of vets and ringers to absolute dominance in the regular season. DeRozan’s 52 points against the Bucks on Jan. 1 underscored what a bright regular season Toronto had. However, it was the same old Raptors come the postseason...
DeMar Derozan (SG/SF); Jakob Poeltl (C ); Dwane Casey (Coach of the Year)
Kawhi Leonard (SF); Danny Green (SG); Greg Monroe (PF/C); Nick Nurse (rookie head coach)
Player to Watch:
The Raptors are teetering on the edge of chaos. They took a big risk in breaking up the amiable duo of Lowry and DeRozan. The newly acquired Leonard is an immense talent and has a chance to be the best player in the East by a healthy margin. That said, there are quite a few unknowns with this club.
The Raptors - on paper - have the goods to be an elite squad this season. How rookie head coach Nurse responds to the challenge will be equally important. Still, odds are this Raptors team has a tremendous shot at reaching the NBA Finals.
Worst Case Scenario: If neither Leonard nor Lowry can move on from an emotional off-season, the Raptors could crash and burn. Nurse could fail to unite his locker room, prompting Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri to go nuclear and blow up his team. There’s a nice young core for Toronto to pivot towards, but still.
Best Case Scenario: If everything clicks up north, the Raptors could very well be the Eastern Conference representatives in the Finals. Leonard at full tilt is a good stand-in for LeBron James, and we’ve seen what an athletic, cerebral wing can do to opponents. Should Leonard return to form, the Raptors will more than hold their own against the Celtics and the Sixers.
55-27, 2nd in the Atlantic Division.