You can say this about Toronto Raptors’ general manager Masai Ujiri, he takes big swings. After finishing last season with the second best record in the NBA only to be swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round, he blew it up. He traded franchise legend DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green with no guarantee that the superstar Leonard would be there beyond this season. This is an all-in year for the Raps who have a win total of 54.5 after finishing with 59 last year.
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Of course, there is more to the situation than that. Kawhi is rumored to not want to play in Toronto and he missed almost all of last year with an injury that could be nagging. Kyle Lowry is rumored to be unhappy about the trade as DeRozan was a close friend of his. Serge Ibaka is a year older and didn’t look great last year. There are questions here.
That said, this is a deep team that can throw a lot of looks at you. The Raps were smart to hold onto Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby as these two look like important cogs on a great team. Fred VanVleet also looked great last year and you wonder if the playoffs would’ve went differently had he been 100%. Throw in Delon Wright, Norman Powell and CJ Miles, and this might be the best bench unit in the league. These guys were winning games by themselves last season and there is no reason to think that changes.
Kyle Lowry is a great point guard and he really adjusted last year with all of the weapons. His scoring went down, but he adjusted his assist rate to career highs. I think he’ll be fine this year and will learn to love playing with Kawhi.
Really, the fate of this team all comes down to Kawhi Leonard. If he’s healthy, can play 70+ games and looks like the guy that we all remember then the Raptors are going to be great. 60 wins, top seed in the East great. If he’s not then I think things could go bad here. I don’t think that he’ll do that though. There is just too much at stake for his reputation and his future contract.
I am going with the over here as I can see the Raptors being neck and neck with the Celtics for the top team in the Eastern Conference. They can throw a lot of looks at teams and they have one of the best home court advantages there is.
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