The Toronto Raptors were the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. They lost a tough seven game series to the Brooklyn Nets in the 1st round. They were led by Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Lowry had a career year and should have been an All-Star this past season. DeRozan was rewarded with an All-Star bid instead as he averaged career highs in points, rebounds, assists and three point percentage. He was also an improved defender. They won a franchise record 48 games last season and lost in the 1st round to the Brooklyn Nets.
After trading Rudy Gay the Raptors started to play better. They acquired a solid backup in Greivis Vasquez and John Salmons. The starting point guard Kyle Lowry had career highs in points, rebounds, assists, three point percentage and he was a leader for the first time in his career. He knocked down big shots on many occasions for the Raptors. With their improvements DeRozan and Lowry have become one of the best backcourts in the NBA.
Jonas Valanciunas was a better player in his second season. He led the team in rebounds and although he’s not a shot blocker he was a solid defender in the interior. He played good for Lithuania during the World Cup. Amir Johnson is the veteran in the frontcourt and he played well in spurts. The Raptors were very good on the defensive end holding opponents to 98 ppg, good enough for 7th in the league. Terrance Ross is a young guy who exploded for a surprise 51 point game in January. He played well the rest of the season but did not deliver in the playoffs.
With the 20th pick in the draft they picked a kid named Bruno Caboclo. He’s a 6’9 nineteen year old forward from Brazil. In the second round they got DeAndre Daniels from Connecticut. I don’t expect either player to have an impact on the season unless they are hit with injuries.
In the off-season they resigned Kyle Lowry to a four-year deal and they resigned Patrick Patterson. They traded John Salmons for backup guard Lou Williams. Lou is a good scoring guard off the bench. James Johnson returns to the Raptors, he’s a high motor guy who gives them depth at the forward position.
Many people thought the Raptors would struggle after trading Rudy Gay. They got better and took advantage of a weak Eastern Conference. Their defense should still be solid and they will win games. DeRozan’s experience with Team USA will be beneficial for the team going forward. Although they didn’t make many moves they are still a solid team. They will win 47-50 games.