UA-59049186-1 NBA Team Preview: Toronto Raptors - Good if it Goes

NBA Team Preview: Toronto Raptors

Offseason

Draft Picks: 9. C. Jakob Poeltl, 27. PF. Pascal Siakam

Key Acquisitions: PF. Jared Sullinger

Key Losses: SF. James Johnson, C. Bismack Biyombo, PF. Luis Scola

Player Profiles

Projected Lineup:

PG. Kyle Lowery: 6’1, 196

  • Scrappy overachiever that has gotten the most of his abilities. Plays hard all the time and is a 2 way player and leader on the court.
  • Size and average athleticism limits him to having to be more of an outside jump shooter but he’s really good at it. Shot 39% from 3 on over 7 attempts per game. Has deep range and can really get hot.
  • Tough defender that fights hard through screens and is a playmaker on defense.

SG. DeMar DeRozan: 6’7, 221

  • Mid-range assassin wing scorer that has a very good in-between game. Very aggressive player that can get to the line, averaged over 8 free throw attempts per game.
  • Limited Range: not a very good 3 point shooter and is far more effective on mid-range shots in the 10-15 foot range than 16ft and beyond.
  • Poor Defender: Despite being 6’7, 220 and relatively athletic he’s been unable to parlay that into being effective on defense.

SF. DeMarre Carroll: 6’8, 215

  • 3 and D wing whose results last year were skewed due to injury and missed time on the court.
  • Physical forward that can defend multiple positions and play some 4 in small ball lineups. Gets his hands on the ball on defense and gets a lot of steals.
  • Mostly an off-ball player offensively that spots up and spaces the floor.

PF. Jared Sullinger: 6’9, 260

  • Below the rim massive big man that’s become a force on the glass.
  • All-around offensive big man that just finds a way to contribute. He’s one of the better passing big men in the game and sets very effective screens. He’s also a decent shooter from mid-range for a big and can hit the occasional wide open 3. Struggles to finish around the rim due to his lack of height and leaping ability.
  • Despite his lack of leaping ability and length he’s become a pretty good defensive player because he’s smart and active. Averaged nearly 1.5 steals per 36 last year. He’s also huge and has a lot of strength so he can deny position and hold his own in the interior.

C. Jonas Valanciunas: 7’0, 265

  • Powerful Lithuanian center that can do a little of everything.
  • At his best offensively in the pick game both as a roller and popper, thrives as both a finisher and shooter, lights out from mid-range.
  • Decent defender that’s at his best in the interior where he can best utilize his strength and size. Not as effective away from the basket.

Bench

PF. Patrick Paterson: 6’9, 230

  • Scoring combo forward that loves to shoot 3s.
  • He does most of his shooting on offense behind the arc with nearly 60% of his shot attempts coming from down town. He’s good at it too as he made over 36% of them. But he’s more than just a shooter. He’s more than comfortable putting the ball on the floor to attack closeouts or even as a first measure.
  • Average defender that tries to overcome his tweener flaws on defense by playing within the gameplan and bringing good effort.

PG. Cory Joseph: 6’3, 193

  • Two-way combo guard with limited range.
  • Offensively he does a solid job or protecting the ball and running the 2nd unit. He has adequate passing ability and scoring wise he’s good inside the arc. His biggest weakness is his 3 point shooting which wasn’t very reliable last year.
  • Tough gritty defender that can defend either guard spot. He does a good job battling through screens and working to stay attached.

SF. Terrence Ross: 6’7, 206

  • 1-way scoring wing that can get buckets with or without the ball.
  • Offensively at his best curling and catching. He’s a very good shooter on the move and shows very good form elevating and releasing. He has some ability to catch and go into mini isolations and score but that also gets him into trouble at times.
  • Underachiever defensively given all of his athletic ability and size. Just doesn’t bring consistent effort to that end of the floor.

SG. Norman Powell: 6’4, 215

  • Athletic 3 and D wing that can guard 3 positions. Elite physical tools with a 6’10 wing span and 40 inch vertical.
  • Very good spot up shooter from 3. The rest of his offensive game is fairly limited at this point but he plays his role well.
  • A rare case of good rookie defender who not only plays with good effort and technique but appears to have the confidence to take on the league’s toughest assignments.

C. Jakob Poeltl: 7’0, 248

  • Big mobile rookie center who’s ready to contribute as a high energy big off the bench.
  • He’s raw offensively without much post game but he’s ready to rim run and dive hard off screens.
  • Given his size and mobility he projects to be a very good defensive big.

PG. Delon Wright: 6’5, 183

  • Huge 2nd-year PG with an all-around game. He can pass, score, defend and is an elite rebounder for his position.
  • Offensively he is a very good passer that uses his height to probe but he also has the vision to see the not so obvious teammates that are open. He’s also a decent 3 point shooter. Despite his size he struggles to finish at the rim.
  • Was only an average defender in limited time as a rookie but he defended well in college and has the size to suggest he can be a plus NBA defender. He is only an average athlete.

C. Lucas Nogueira: 7’0, 241

  • Young athletic big man who just hasn’t seen much time on the floor in his first 2 seasons.
  • He’s not a shooter or post player but has the traits to be a factor rim running and rolling to the basket.
  • Has the tools to be an impact player blocking shots on defense.

Breakdown

The Raptors starting 5 will have the same backcourt, but they’re hoping for the front court to look a little different and be more productive. At SF DeMarre Carroll will start and hopefully get to play a season full healthy. He missed most of last season with injury and when he returned wasn’t the same. If the Raptors can get a healthy Carroll playing at the level he played at in his last season in Atlanta it would be the equivalent of getting a brand new player they didn’t have last year. Their biggest free agent acquisition was Jared Sullinger who comes over from Boston to be the starting PF. He’s a significant upgrade over Scola who simply got too old to do the job anymore. Sullinger will bring an instant impact to the boards where he dominated last season and gives the Raptors another really good passer. Jonas Valanciunas returns as the starting center. He brings value on both ends but was outstanding in his role offensively a year ago which showed by his 120 offensive rating. The front court should be more productive which will help the backcourt which carried the Raptors offensively at times last year. Both Kyle Lowery, the starting PG, and SG DeMar DeRozan were all-stars a year ago and I expect similar performances for both players this season. DeRozan is the team’s best overall pure scorer and figures to lead the team in that category again this season. He has limited range and doesn’t want to shoot 3s, but man is he good inside the arc. Lowery does a little of everything functioning as PG that can both score and distribute at a high level.

The Raptors bench is loaded and is one of the deepest in the league. They’ve got guys that can play a lot of different roles coming off the bench. Patrick Patterson and Terrance Ross figure to be the lead offensive options off the bench for this team. Patterson helps open up the floor with both his shooting and ability to put the ball on the floor and Ross is a really good shooter and the best overall scorer on this bench. Corey Joseph will also be a prominent contribute off this bench as the backup PG. The Raptors also have a lot of intriguing young options off the bench. Rookie center Jacob Poeltl will be the backup center and has the skill set the contribute in a limited role immediately. Norman Powell showed he can be a real nuisance on defense and that he can be a reliable 3 point shooter making him a nice 3 and D option on the wing. And then there’s Delon Wright who showed promise in limited playing time and will be able to keep the team afloat if there’s every any injuries in the backcourt.

Expectations

My expectations for the Raptors is for them to get back to the Eastern Conference Finals. They’re well coached by Dwayne Casey and are loaded in the starting lineup and on the bench. Pairing Sullinger with Jonas will make them one of the best rebounding teams in the league and a healthy Carroll will make them even better defensively. 3 point shooting and a lack of athleticism with their bigs are their biggest weaknesses but they have so many things they’re good at they should be able to over come those issues for the most part. They have a lot of 2 way players and that is what you need to win in this league.

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