Record: 51 – 31 (3rd in the East)
Season Ended: Swept by the Cavs in the 2nd Round.
OG Anunoby (SF)
K.J. McDaniels (SF)
C.J. Miles (SF)
Demarre Carroll, Patrick Patterson, Cory Joseph, PJ Tucker
Projected Starters (Last year averages)
PG: Kyle Lowry (22 pts, 5 reb, 7 ast)
SG: DeMar Derozan (27 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast)
SF: Norman Powell (8 pts, 2 reb, 1 ast)
PF: Serge Ibaka (14 pts, 7 reb, 1 blk)
C: Jonas Valciunas (12 pts, 10 reb)
C.J. Miles (SG/SF), Delon Wright (PG), Jakob Poeltl (C)
Major Story lines
The Culture Reset – After being swept by the Cavs in the playoffs last year Masai Ujiri said that the Raptors needed a “Culture reset.” That clearly didn’t mean a roster reset as the Raptors only removed role players from their 2016-2017 team. What they have changed is the way they play. During the preseason they have done more to get Jonas Valanciunas involved (Thank God, I’ve always felt he was underutilized) and they are shooting more 3’s. These changes could be huge for them as they try to hold onto their place in the East if not build upon it.
Kyle Lowry Extension – One of the major decisions the franchise had to make this offseason was deciding what to do with Kyle Lowry. In the end, they signed him to a 3 year extension so it appears they are ready to ride out this Lowry-Derozan backcourt.
Mike Predictions (47 – 35) (6th in the East)
- Raptors continue to slip – Last year the Raptors went down from 56 wins to 51, this year I expect they drop just a little more and wind up at 46. With other teams in the East getting stronger the Raptors are going to be in a battle with the likes of the Bucks, Wizards, and Heat and I think they lose that battle. The 3 teams mentioned there are younger than them but all are hungry and feel like they have to take a step this year. The middle of the East playoff picture should be interesting to say the least.
- Derozan trade rumors – Because I expect the Raptors to slip, and because of Derozan’s weak comments regarding Lebron after their playoff loss I can hear the idea of a Derozan trade coming up. Could they get in the mix for a deadline Demarcus Cousins deal if he says he’ll sign an extension? Regardless, this culture change is only going to work if they’re willing to shake up their core. If Norman Powell explodes onto the scene in a big way that could make Derozan more expendable as well.
Josh Predictions (52-30) (3rd in the East)
- Jonas Valanciunas gets traded – There have already been rumors of Valanciunas being mentioned in trade talks since last season. Recently he has been linked to a trade to Phoenix. The Raptors know they have two giant obstacles in their way to win the Eastern conference and they need to do something drastic to compete with Boston and Cleveland. Basically, they need someone who can score more than 12 PPG and average more than 0.8 blocks in 26 minutes of action. Not sure where he goes, but I definitely think he’s gone.