NBA season preview: Toronto Raptors

NBA season preview: Toronto Raptors


NBA season preview: Toronto Raptors

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TORONTO, ON - MAY 15: Kyle Lowry #7 and DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors look on in the first half of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Miami Heat during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on May 15, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

STAYING: Bruno Caboclo, DeMarre Carroll, DeMar DeRozan, Cory Joseph, Kyle Lowry, Lucas Nogueira, Patrick Patterson, Norman Powell, Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas and Delon Wright.

ADDED: Drew Crawford (Bnei Herzliya), Yanick Moreira (Murcia), Jakob Poeltl (University of Utah), Pascal Siakam (New Mexico State), Jared Sullinger (Boston), Jarrod Uthoff (Iowa) and Fred VanVleet (Wichita State).

GONE: Bismack Biyombo (Orlando), James Johnson (Miami), Luis Scola (Brooklyn) and Jason Thompson.

STRENGTHS: Top-notch backcourt with All-Stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan … Both come off perhaps the best season of their NBA careers and will enter the 2016-17 in their prime … Same can be said about Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas, an ultra effective center who may end up making the All-Star Game one day … Pretty good backups at most positions … Not hard to picture Cory Joseph starting at point guard for a bunch of clubs, for example … The nucleus of the team has been together for some time … Chemistry should remain pretty good … Terrific athleticism at the wing with DeRozan, Terrence Ross and Norman Powell … Powell had a very promising rookie year … He will be a player to watch out for this season … A healthier version of DeMarre Carroll will help the team, especially on the defensive end … They have added another offensive weapon in Jared Sullinger … Solid three-point shooting … They were No. 5 in shooting percentage from beyond the arc in 2015-16 … Above-average defensive and rebounding team … They have one of the best home-court advantages in the NBA.

WEAKNESSES: Not the most creative offense in the league … They often rely a lot on DeRozan and Lowry catching fire … While there’s been some progress there, DeRozan is still not much of a threat from the three-point line … Ball movement will not remind anybody of the Golden State Warriors … They don’t score much on the break … Valanciunas is probably underutilized on the offensive end … Raptors had one of the best center duos in Valanciunas and Bismack Biyombo last season … That’s gone with Biyombo now in Orlando … Toronto could miss his intimidation and rebounding … They are now pretty thin at center behind Valanciunas unless Jakob Poeltl delivers right away … Power forward spot could use an upgrade … Could the wear-and-tear of National Team duty affect the performance of the team’s Big Three? … Star power is not up there with Cleveland’s.

PREDICTION: 2nd in the Atlantic Division, 3rd in the Eastern Conference.



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