Kawhi Leonard’s decided that King of the North was cool, but not cool enough and instead will now chill in SoCal. Let’s be honest, Leonard played and acted like a hired assassin. While Leonard’s exit was hardly welcome, the euphoria Canadian fans felt will never be forgotten. And when the championship banner is hung this coming October at Scotiabank Arena, that lasts forever.
While that is all fine and good, but in today’s world of instant information, we don’t have time to celebrate, we have to immediately look ahead, even if we don’t know where we are going. The day after Toronto won the championship and before the parade, the interweb was littered with articles about what the Raptors future held. Cooler heads prevailed here at SportsBookReview.com and we let the dust settle and will now offer our thoughts about Toronto looking to next season.
Toronto Odds Report
We shuffled over to our NBA odds page and found Toronto listed as the 11th choice to repeat as champs. There was also quite a variance, from as low +2274 at Pinnacle, all the way to +5500 at 5Dimes. Both sportsbooks also had the Raptors as the 6th best bet for NBA picks to win the Eastern Conference.
How Different Will the Raptors Look This Upcoming Season?
Besides Leonard leaving, so did Danny Green for the Los Angeles Lakers. Though this hurts Toronto’s bench depth, Green’s departure will mean more during the regular season than the postseason. Green is quickly becoming if he already wasn’t, the Kyle Korver of the NBA, a very good shooter until the pressure is on.
Instead, head coach Nick Nurse will build his team around forward Pascal Siakam, the winner of this season’s Most Improved Player award. Siakam is just 25 and it was clear he still has ways to improve and if he can tighten up the mid-range shooting game and from behind the arc, we have a star in the making.
Nurse will also have gritty veterans Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka returning, along with spark plug Fred VanVleet coming off the bench. But the biggest void to fill is not just Leonard’s spot but having a reliable shooting guard that produces night after night.
There are candidates, yet, none jump off the page before the season starts. Players like Norman Powell, Patrick McGaw, Jodie Meeks, and rookie Terence Davis will all get a look. Nurse might have to start the season with the best all-around player on both sides of the floor and sub in the best scorer on a regular basis. This will play out over time.
Speaking of Nurse, besides Leonard, he might have been the Raptors second-most value asset in their championship run.
He proved he could work a roster during the regular season. In the playoffs, he was unafraid to mix lineups, rode the hot hand on a certain night with a player who was producing and sat him the next game if he didn’t have it.
He was willing to go completely unconventional, like playing a Box and One defense on Stephen Curry and it worked. Keep an eye on Nurse, he could be a rising star.
The Raptors are not going to win the East again and should fall in a window for a win total in the 45-47 range. If by chance Toronto is not playing at that pace, look for them to move free agents to be Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka, possibly both and start retooling for a couple of years down the road.
It should still be a good season for #WeTheNorth, just not a title-contending one.