Toronto Raptors Team Preview

Going to be a fun ride. Don’t even think about next year. Enjoy Kawhi Leonard.

Last Seasons Record – 59-23

This Seasons Record – 65-17

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Kawhi Leonard is worth six more wins, right? He has to be. Yes, this is a little late, but writing over 20,000 words for the NBA season takes time. The Raptors are flying out of the gate. They are off to the best start in franchise history with a 6-0 record. Not only does this team have a new life, but everyone is playing what appears to be on another level. Lowry, JV, and Siakim have all improved in the offseason yet again. Lowry is leading the league in assists per game or was after their last contest. Kyle Lowry, leading the league in that category, are you kidding me? When the trade happened everyone was head over heels about Kawhi coming to Toronto and rightfully so. But the guy who has figured out time travel, and one of the biggest key factors in their success is Danny Green. He is playing at such a high level right now, and his basketball IQ, which is through the roof is making things really easy on the offensive end for our guys. This team is truly going to have a special season, and we all need not worry about what next year holds, but just enjoy this fabulous ride this team is going to provide us for the next 7 months.

Key Additions and Subtractions 

Imagine being in a relationship with someone who was so good to you, who improved yearly and then you wake up one day and it’s over. What happened with DeMar DeRozan in the summer was a bummer. But sports is a business and the organization saw an opportunity and went for it. You have to do these things in sports, you must make difficult decisions. Trading away DeMar and getting Kawhi Leonard in return is a once in a lifetime thing. Jakob Poeltl went to San Antonio with DeMar and Danny Green came alongside Kawhi. So far the trade has worked out well for both teams and I couldn’t be happier. DeMar is killing it with the Spurs right now, and yet again has improved in the offseason and is out for blood this year. It just makes me happy seeing him be successful, but that was a no-brainer. He went to one of the best franchises in all of the sports and is learning day in and day out from Greg Popovich. Other than that, the Raptors didn’t make any moves. They resigned Fred VanVleet and they know that they are chalked full of young talent and are primed to make a move in the East with LeBron James now out West.

Year Long Question – How good can Pascal Siakim become?

When it’s the offseason in the NBA, every player heads to Los Angeles. Or at least it seems like that. Siakim was one of those guys. He was seen playing pick-up ball with some of the best players in the world this summer. I have insanely high expectations for him this year. The NBA is kind of built for him now, he can be the perfect stretch 4 or even the stretch 5. He has been working on his shooting since he came into the league and thrives off those corner threes. But his ball handling is getting better and he is able to get to the rim at a really efficient rate. I think that in order for the Raptors to truly reach the goals they want to reach, a lot of that is going to fall on the shoulders of Pascal. If he continues to develop and improve this season, not only will it be great for the Raps, but I think he could be in the running for the Most Improved Player Award.

Fan Mindset

This is just not the city of Toronto celebrating, but the entire country. Yes, no one actually died, but after 15 years LeBron James has finally moved to the Western Conference. The ultimate Raptors killer. The man responsible for us being eliminated year after year in the playoffs. So when we all heard the news that he was taking his talents to LA and was going to be playing for the Lakers, well Raptor fans everywhere rejoiced in song and dance. He’s gone, baby! We can finally rest easy at night knowing that we don’t have to run into him come playoff time. This team should fear no one in the Eastern Conference, and it really is theirs for the taking. I know when LeBron signed with the Lakers, my mind immediately went to the thought that the Raptors are now primed to make the NBA Finals.

Bold Predictions, Sponsored By Nate – The Raptors win the most games in the league this season.

Maybe it’s because I’m a week late in doing this, but the Raptors are one of the two last remaining undefeated teams in the NBA. Actually, the other team is the Bucks who they play Monday night. They are playing such terrific basketball right now and doing it in a fun and meaningful way. Everyone is getting their shots, and when we need a bucket, someone is stepping up. We have won games with a depleted bench, and we are scoring more than 110 points per game. This team will thrive on defence as the season continues I believe, but right now we are simply outscoring teams. I think the Raptors will win 65 games and finish with the best record in the NBA. That could bode well if they make it to the finals for home court. I’m already so excited like Jessie Spano excited.

NBA Awards – Who Wins?

I’m the MVP and we sitting here talking about practice.

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Can Westbrook repeat? Which rookie will break through and conquer all? Which coaches will not be fired and rather win coach of the year? Can Draymond stop kicking people enough to win another defensive player of the year award? Just some of the questions going into the NBA season, and more importantly about the NBA awards. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the NBA switching up their format and going to the award show, but in the end it really worked, and looking forward to who they get to host it next year.

NBA Coach of The Year: 

Always a tough thing to predict, because you aren’t quite sure how the season is going to play out. Will it go to Steve Kerr because well the Warriors will probably win around 70 games again. I think that’s the easy answer, but not necessarily the right one. With a lot of teams kind of just “stuck” right now, more so in the Eastern Conference than the West, there are only a few candidates for COY in the East. I think they will be Brad Stevens from the Boston Celtics, Jason Kidd from the Milwaukee Bucks and Brett Brown from the Philadelphia 76ers. Reason being, that the Celtics might come away with the best record in the East, and on top of that they added two All-Stars, so adjusting to this new roster and trying to figure out their identity will be a process. A tough one at that, and I think Brad Stevens is the right man for the job. He will be in the conversation all year for this award. Jason Kidd is back with the Bucks once again, and if they have a really good year and continue forward from last seasons success, there is no reason why he won’t also be part of the COY conversations. I tossed in Brett Brown because if the 76ers improve by a lot, and even make the playoffs, that is worth some recognition. They won 28 games last year and if they find themselves flirting with 42 wins and a playoff spot, a lot will have to be said about Brown and his coaching. Much like Brad Stevens, Billy Donovan is in the same boat, with adding a bunch of new roster pieces, and with a background in college, he is used to having new pieces each year and knows how to adjust to a new roster. If the Thunder somehow have a marvellous season and win say the West, he will no doubt be the winner of this award. I actually don’t see any NBA coaches getting fired this season also as strange as that sounds.

NBA Coach of The Year Winner – Brett Brown 

NBA Sixth Man of The Year:

Is Jamal Crawford good anymore? Should we just rename this award to the Jamal Crawford award? Do I think they should get rid of this and have a different award? Yes I do. What that award would be, I dunno, they could do something different. Eric Gordon won it last year, and honestly he will probably win it again this year. He has a pretty easy job down in Houston, play some defence and shoot wide open 3 pointers, something that he is really really really good at. The guy shot 38% from downtown last season, and he will probably have even more open looks now that Chris Paul is on his team. Honestly this will be a race between Jamal Crawford, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams. All former winners and it just makes the most sense. Maybe someone on a new team could pop in the conversation, maybe someone on the Cavs perhaps, like JR Smith, but it’s just too early to tell. Super dark horse pick, Norman Powell from the Toronto Raptors. I hate this award.

NBA Sixth Man of The Year – Eric Gordon 

NBA Most Improved Player:

Boy oh boy this should be a really fun and interesting race. There are a ton of guys that fall into this category this year. A bunch of guys that have now evolved into beautiful butterflies and just want to spread their wings. Lets start with the Joker, Nikola Jokic, the big man in the middle in Denver. He really came on last season and showed the world, that he is the best passing big man in the NBA. Racking up triple-doubles and making Denver an all around better team. He’s really fun to watch, and is already on the radar of many, so if he has a great year, don’t be shocked if he walks away with this hardware at the end of the season. He will have some stiff competition though, in fact, someone on his team might say otherwise. Garry Harris, the Michigan State product took a giant leap forward last year and will look to continue on that success this year. Coming off a 15PPG in the NBA last season and shooting an incredible 42 percent from downtown, Gary Harris really started to turn some heads. Another great young piece on Denver, if he can get his average up even more and flirt with about 20 PPG, I think he will be in serious contention for this award. But the unicorn himself, Mr. New York City, Kristaps Porzingis is my favourite to win this award. Melo is gone and so is Phil Jackson, and now this is truly his team. Yes, the Knicks will be a dumpster fire all season, but if Porzingis can average about 22-25PPG and up his rebounding to about 10RPG, there is no reason why he will not win this award. New York and the NBA are ready to fall in love with this guy, even more than we already have. Except for an injury, I just don’t see anyone else winning this award. It’s his to lose to be honest, all the pieces are in place for this to happen.

NBA Most Improved Player – Kristaps Porzingis 

NBA Defensive Player of The Year:

I’ll keep this one short and sweet. It’s a three man race, between Kickpuncher himself Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard and the man out for revenge this season the Eiffel Tower; Rudy Gobert. The Warriors are once again going to be really good, Draymond is their best defender and always defends the others team best player, so it makes sense that he will be in the front runner to win. I think if Kawhi plays all season and the Spurs have a pretty decent record and he’s also scoring about 25 a game, it will be his to lose. But the big man Rudy wants to win this award. The thing with this award is, for the most part is remains in the same circle, where guys usually win it multiple times, go look at the history, there hasn’t actually been that many different winners since the year 2000. So that’s why I’m giving the slight edge to Draymond.

NBA Defensive Player of The Year – Draymond Green

NBA Rookie of The Year:

Well this is next to impossible to decide at this point. This rookie draft class is going to be one for the ages, and I’m pretty sure like Joel Embiid could still some how win this. Same with Ben Simmons, who wants to prove to everyone that he is still going to be a magical player and people shouldn’t sleep on him. Lonzo Ball, Jason Tatum, Markelle Fultz, and De’Aaron Fox are all the guys in the running for this award. I know, three players from the same team are trying to win ROY, I don’t think that has ever been the case, so in the long run, I think they will cancel each other out, I really do. They will all have great years, I just think that each one of them won’t be able to do enough, more than the other candidates to win. Jason Tatum, the next Paul Pierce or at least that’s what Boston fans are hoping. He’s going to be great, but I think that he is just not going to be able to score enough, or be on the court long enough to win. Look Boston is going for it all this year and they also want to groom this incredible rookie, so look for him to play a lot when they are up big, but until he proves otherwise, I can see him getting kind of buried on the bench in big games and big moments. That leaves Lonzo vs. Fox and we all know how that played out last year in college. Look Lonzo, you’re going to be a stud. His court vision is contagious and he has such a bright future. I don’t think he’s going to start for the Lakers. I think he will lead the second unit and until he gets his feet wet a little bit, then he will jump into the starting rotation. Why I think he won’t win, his shooting. It could go sideways real quick and he could put up some all time horrid numbers for a rookie for shooing the deep ball. Unless he manages to average like 12 assists a game, this isn’t happening. That’s why my winner is Lefty Westy (thats what I have dubbed him, so get on board with it, before it’s too late). De’Aaron Fox is my pick to win this insane race for ROY. I think under the tutelage of George Hill, he will learn how to be a pro very early on. I can see him starting quickly if he gets off to a flying start, and I just think there are enough veterans around the Kings now, for them to finally have a little bit of a culture change. George Hill and Vince Carter are two awesome guys to learn from, just not on the basketball court but off it as well. That’s what Fox needs, and it will help him in the long run. He really is the whole package and I can’t wait to watch him this season. I can see him averaging about 14-16 a game this year, with about 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Like I said Lefty Westy

NBA Rookie of The Year – De’Aaron Fox

NBA Most Valuable Player

I legit have no idea who’s going to win this award. It’s really tough, because there are just so many talented and incredible players in the NBA right now, it makes this decision pretty tough. There are however a handful of guys who will dominate the conversation all year and most likely be the guys people are voting for come next June. Russell Westbrook, Paul George (because he wants it), John Wall (because he wants it also), Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving are all the guys I think have a chance. I know I named a ton of guys but it’s really hard to narrow it down okay! Kevin Durant looked unstoppable in the finals last season, he wants to be the best player in the world, he wants to surpass LeBron, and this could finally be the year. He wants the MVP and another title and another finals MVP, we all know it and that seems like the most logical outcome right now. The Warriors are going to be so good, one of the best teams ever, there’s no denying that, but that’s not who is winning this years MVP. LeBron is going to be the league MVP, and I’m going to tell you why. Yes the Cavs have an incredible roster as well, but they are also the oldest team in the league by far, and maybe even one of the oldest teams ever assembled in the league history. Isaiah Thomas is out until at least the new year, and if the Cavs are atop of the East, who do you think thats because of? Listen LeBron has never missed any time in his career, and I think he doesn’t get MVP recognition anymore because all he does is stay at the same insane consistent level. He honestly can’t get much better, but then that little birdie Kyrie Irving went and pissed him off. Everyone making fun of his dance moves, not wanting to play for him, LeBron is super pissed off and I think he will be a freight train from hell, and will be driving down the throats of his competition this season. It all makes sense for him to win right? Kevin Durant will be canceled out from Steph, and James Harden is in for a rough season now that Chris Paul is around, and I mean that in the sense, that he was the best point guard in the NBA last season. Now he will be playing without the ball in his hands for the majority of the time he’s on the court. It will be too much of a change and he certainly won’t have the same numbers as he did last year. The OKC guys will take too long to figure things out, and I think they are thinking ring rather than bling this season. It will be so much fun to watch unfold though, it really will be, the NBA season is going to be one to remember.

NBA Most Valuable Player – LeBron James.