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2019-2020 Toronto Raptors Thread: “Hail to the Champions! In Masai We Believe”

Started by hockeyfan1, September 29, 2019, 07:22:40 AM

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It's basketball time.  Training camp opened on Friday September 27th in Quebec City, and the pre-season games which will begin on Tuesday Oct. 8th against the Houston Rockets in China.

Many ask, where will the 2019 NBA Champions go from here, sans Kawhi Leonard?

First of all, if one had asked if the Raptors were championship material at the beginning of last season, no one could have predicted that that is exactly what transpired.
This year, no one believes the Raptors have what it takes to go all the way Kawhi-less.  Except Masai Ujiri.

This team will be Masai's team, or whatever he makes it depending on where th roster takes it.

Since the Leonard & Green departures in the off-season, there have been new additions added to the Toronto roster.  Forwards Rondee Hollis-Jefferson, Stanley Johnson, Cameron Payne, Guards Isiah Taylor, Matt Thomas, Devinn Robinson, and draftees Guard Terence Davis, Forwards Sagata Konate, Dewan Hernandez, & Oshae Brissett.
Plus the usual array of returnees and veterans such as Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Norman Powell, Fred Van Vleet, Patrick McCaw, Malcom Miller, Chris Boucher, OG Anunoby, &  Pascal Siakam,

Lowry, Ibaka, and Gasol are on expiring contracts through next season,  Just the three of them take up $90M on the books.  They are the most experienced but also aging veterans and it's anyone's guess on what Toronto's brass has in mind in tinkering with the roster come deadline day, if at all.

Many believe this will be Siakam's team and time to take the reigns as the new on-court leader.  The NBA's MIP Award winner will surely be seeking to lead all forwards and taking charge on the court, much as he had done last season.

While the Raptors look good on paper, in reality on-court they remain a slight question mark.  Even though the Eastern Conference has 'beefed' itself up — Kyrie Irving and KD in Brooklyn;  Kemba Walker in Boston; James Horford in Philly; not excluding a revamped Giannis Antetokounmpo & the  Milwaukee Bucks (who are said to be itching for a playoff rematch with Toronto in a bid to avenge last year's loss) — that is not to say that the Raptors don't possess the versatility as well as the depth that they displayed and was displayed by Leonard leading up to their incredulous playoff run and championship win.

Guys like Hollis-Jefferson will provide defensive playmaking, Matt Thomas (most accurate non-NBA shooting guard), veteran know-how in Gasol, Lowry, & Ibaka,  speed in Anunoby & Boucher, all-round playmaking in Siakam, bench strength from returnees McCaw, Miller, Powell.

In summarization, the Raptors appear to be a defensive-oriented team not big on offensive numbers if analytics is to be believed. 

This was my response to Blake Murphy's article on what we can expect this season, namely a "transition" or look-see year with expectations to make the playoffs and hopefully go far (and in Ujiri's mind, win it all again):

From LD:

Wow, Blake, stats, stats, stats! Great article and quite predictive of a Raptors roster outcome.

Personally, I doubt the Raptors win "2-peat". Without A Kawhi type, it won't be the same. Sure they have speed (Siakam, Anunoby, Boucher), leadership & experience (Lowry, Ibaka, Van Vleet, Gasol), versatility (Hollis-Jefferson —defence, Matt Thomas — shooting), and bench strength (McCaw, Powell, etc), but somehow looking at this team's roster, can one actually say the Raptors look balanced?

I'd expect them to play a tighter defensive game this season given their potential offensive shortcomings given the fact that the team is a mixed bag of players.

At this point, let PIPM do the talking. On paper, not too bad. On court, same.
Results? In the hunt and jostling for playoff position. At best.

Blake Murphy
@Lora D. Yeah, their chances of a repeat look fairly slim, barring some major steps forward from guys (or an unlikely trade). Think you're spot on that they'll be a D-first team. Should be an identity there.

(PIPM is an analytics tool that takes a player's +-% etc., and rolls it into a probability of that player's value performance and expectations).

Anyway, furthering to the above, many fans think this Raptors 2020 edition has what it takes to make an indentation in the playoffs again.  Not to worry much regarding the Nets (Kyrie & KD both on long-term injuries/Durant indefinitely).  Teams such as the Sixers with a "rejuvenated" Joel Embiid will prove tough, as tough as they were last season.

It's really anyone's guess who'll win the championship next year, whether it'll be the Leonard-led Clippers, the Giannis-led Bucks, or surprise again the Siakam-led Raptors. 

Versatility will be the key, and Toronto appears to have it on paper at least.  Kawhi displayed it in spades, and while coach Nick Nurse had ingrained the idea of using strategy to bring out versatility in all areas, more-of the same will be expected particularly from the core.

The entire NBA has got the versatility buzzword, that is players who can play well at both ends of the court, shifting & transitioning, passing and agility to recognize in-play opportunities.  Toronto, already having experienced that, will want to do more of the same for continued success in the East.

Let the season begin!



Here is the official 2019-2020 Raptors schedule (includes both pre and regular season):


Raptors roster (training camp):  (Note that Hernandez, Konate, Davis, & Brissett are rookies.  Most likely headed to Raptors 905 G League for extra development, with the possible exception of Hernandez who reputedly possesses a monster block).



DeMar still a Raptor at hear


Quote"I'm there. I spent nine years of my basketball career there so even at times when I seen pictures and seen my jersey all in the crowd, you're there someway somehow."



Kyle Lowry was recently signed to a one year $31M extension.  However, as observed by many, this doesn't prevent the Raptors from trading him if the opportunity present itself.

According to some reports, it has been rumoured that Ujiri will want to acquire picks and allow the team to tank somewhat.  By trading some key veteran pieces (such as Lowry), Toronto will not only be sporting a young & 'inexperienced' team but it definitely will be garnering some future prospects along the way in exchange.

Henceforth, the Kyle Lowry trade rumour mill is churning.  Possible destinations include Miami, Detroit, LA Clippers & Minnesota.

Speculation, speculation, and more speculation.  That's about where this is at at the current moment.



Raptors undertook some roster moves waiving Payne, Robinson, and Morgan.  Plus, are in the throes of finalizing their roster in time for Tuesday's season home opener vs the New Orleans Pelicans here at Scotiabank Arena:





Raptors Commemorative Championship video will be available on Tuesday — opening night.  The NBA made the announcement and will be released in multi format (Blue ray/DVD/digital).

Sneak peak:



Emotional night for the Raptors and their fans.  Pre-game ceremony featured the championship banner unveiled (emceed by Lowry & countdown by teammates),  the giving out of the championship rings with NBA Commisioner Adam Silver and the rest of the Toronto Raptors organization.  What a night!

To add to it, the Raptors defeated the New Orleans Pelicans here on Opening Night by a score of 127-122 in OT.

The game was a see-saw battle that saw Paskal Siakam and Fred VanVleet emerge each with 34 pts on the night.  Kyle Lowry had 22 pts., while OG Anunoby had 11.  Serge Ibaka had 13 pts., while Gasol, Terence Davis, & Norm Powell had 6, 5, & 5 pts., respectively.


Beautiful ring:


Introduction by NBA Commish Adam Silver:

The awarding of the rings:

The inveiling of the banner:




Toronto's other Freddie:




Forgot to mention that Lowry had a say in the design of the Championship ring.

It also happens to be the "most expensive ring ever created to date" for NBA Champions.



Raptors lose 112-102 against the Celtics in Boston Friday in their first road game of the season. 

It wasn't  a pretty loss as poor offensive rebounding and turnovers were glaringly evident in this game that the Raptors could have won. 

Siakam and Lowry paced Toronto with 33 & 29 points respectively.
The rest of the team left a lot to be desired particularly Marc Gasol who has yet to up to what's expected of him this season.




OG Anunoby shines in the Raptors 108-84 demolishing of the Chicago Bulls in Chicago last night.  Anunoby had four blocks combined with his 17 points as he and the Raptor defence made life miserable for the Bulls on the court.  No problem with us!

The win was a total team effort with not just Anunoby leading the way but also Siakam (19 pts.), VanVleet (16 pts.), Ibaka (16 pts., 3 blks),  Gasol (10 rebds ., 1 blk), and even Matt Thomas with 6 pts., and 3 rebds.
Good bench contributions all round.







Led by Lowry's 26 points (especially in the latter stages of the game), the Raptors beat the Orlando Magic here Monday night 104-95.

Siakam with 24, VanVleet with 14 plus 5 rebds., & 2 stls, and Anunoby with 12 pts., 8 rebounds., 5 stls., & 2 blks., led the team on the scoreboard.





Raptors big matchup against Antetokounmpo & the Milwaukee Bucks ended in a 115-105 loss Saturday night.

Lowry was spectacular while Siakam was unimpressive.  Anunoby kept Antetokounmpo at bay but wasn't used enough, Ibaka looked fatigued and Gasol has largely remained impactless this year.  Go figure.

This game showed that the Raptors are going to clearly need better efforts from their bench and from guys like Siakam, and from others who didn't play if they are to be on a par in games like these.  Lowry and VanVleet simply won't be enough.




Raptors battled the Sacramento Kings in a wild shooting contest at Scotiabank Arena last night. 

Led by Lowry (does this man ever get any rest?! and by the tireless VanVleet, Toronto played quite possibly it's best game yet.  Guys like Marc Gasol finally shrugged off the sluggishness that had been plaguing him from the opening game, contributing 12 pts., 4 rebds., & 1 stl, but the numbers don't do justice to Gasol's work on the court. Neither for VanVleet who shared nearly identical totals to Gasol in this game.

Serge Ibaka came up with 21 pts., off the bench while Siakam with 23 pts., 13 rebds., & a double-double, Lowry with 26, and Anunoby with 18 pts., & 3 blocks.  This guy can defend!

Great entertainment for the faithful!  And no, Spicy P. did not foul out.  Looks like coach Nurse got through.