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

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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).


Some reading material:




DeMar still a Raptor at hear

"We all human. We all feel some type of way."@DeMar_DeRozan explains how he felt watching the Toronto Raptors win a NBA Championship last season. Don't get it twisted, though. He still has all the love for that city and fan base. pic.twitter.com/hhMo3dUIHi— Evan Closky (@ECloskyWTSP) September 30, 2019
--- End quote ---

--- 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.”
--- End quote ---


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.



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