Outside of LeBron James, the biggest player to change teams this summer was Kawhi Leonard – who switched conferences to the Toronto Raptors.
While the Raptors sacrificed DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl in the deal, it’s safe to assume that any time you can add a perennial MVP candidate you have improved your roster. Leonard gives them a road to the championship, especially without James in the Eastern Conference, that they’ve never had before.
We looked at the starting lineup and rotation for Toronto after their wild offseason.
Jonas Valanciunas, Big Man
OG Anunoby, Forward
Kawhi Leonard, Forward
Danny Green, Guard
Kyle Lowry, Guard
Toronto’s new head coach Nick Nurse immediately projects to have one of the best offenses in the league. Now that Kawhi Leonard is in the mix, too, they’ll immediately have one of the most capable defenders in basketball as well. He has years of experience playing alongside Danny Green, who has been one of the best 3-and-D players in the Western Conference for several years. Kyle Lowry is a capable playmaker who has shown he is an All-Star caliber potential when he’s playing well. In the frontcourt, big man Jonas Valanciunas and OG Anunoby offer a unique blend of young as well as experience.
There’s a lot to like about the depth for the Raptors, however, and they’ll have several options for how to mix up their rotation. Leonard, who is a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, can be an anchor on both sides of the ball next season. After playing limited minutes due to injury last year, Leonard is an early MVP candidate now playing in the final year of his contract. As he has a lot to prove, so does his team. They finished as the No. 1 seed in their conference last season and now no longer have James hovering as a threat in the East with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Green, who is also in a contract year, can be their “secret sauce” to success if his defensive presence continues at a high rate for his new squad. The former NBA champion has also received All-Defense nods and could help reshape a team that struggled defensively when DeRozan was on the court. They have multiple players who can guard the league’s top wings, which is going to be an especially important task against the Boston Celtics. Green has a 6-foot-10 wingspan, which has helped him lead the league in blocks at his position for five straight seasons.
Serge Ibaka, Big Man
Pascal Siakam, Forward
CJ Miles, Forward
Delon Wright, Guard
Fred VanVleet, Guard
The Raptors outscored opponents by 18.2 points per 100 possessions during the 382 minutes that Pascal Siakam, CJ Miles, Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet were on the court at the same time. While it was undeniably tough to lose Jakob Poeltl to the San Antonio Spurs, they still have a playable big for their bench mob in Serge Ibaka. Otherwise, Toronto was mostly able to keep their young core intact despite trading for Leonard. Bonus: Four of the five players listed above are capable of shooting at least 40 percent on corner three-pointers next season.
Greg Monroe, Big Man
Norman Powell, Guard
Malachi Richardson, Guard
It might be hard for big man Greg Monroe to find minutes on his new team after signing a veteran minimum deal in free agency this summer. Likewise, it’ll be hard to imagine finding a place for Norman Powell considering his three-point percentage dipped below 30.0 percent last season. If the Raptors offer any playing time Malachi Richardson, it may largely be due to his mildly impressive summer league performance. Richardson averaged 16.7 points per 36 minutes while shooting 41.7 percent from downtown.
Jordan Loyd, Guard
After playing in Israel last season, the former four-year collegiate player has earned a chance to play for the G League and Toronto next season. He was a summer league success story, averaging 17.2 points and 5.7 rebounds as well as 5.7 assists per 36 for Toronto. It’s unclear if he will receive much time in the NBA due to their depth in the backcourt, but he’s eligible to serve some time at the next level.
Chris Boucher, Big Man
Kyle Collinsworth, Forward
Deng Adel, Forward
Lorenzo Brown, Guard
Boucher is an intriguing prospect who couldn’t find a home with the Golden State Warriors as a rookie. But during summer league, the Canadian big averaged 18.6 points and 11.2 rebounds with 5.6 blocks per 36. Those are all insanely impressive statistics for Boucher, who has a 7-foot-4 wingspan. If he can continue to hit three-pointers like he did in college, he could find a place in the league. Deng Adel, meanwhile, recently signed a partially guaranteed deal with Toronto.
DunkWire, Top, Chris Boucher, CJ Miles, Danny Green, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet, Greg Monroe, Jonas Valanciunas, Jordan Loyd, Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Lorenzo Brown, Malachi Richardson, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors