The Toronto Raptors surprisingly found themselves in the playoff mix last season, as they now appear to be way ahead of schedule than initially anticipated.
During the offseason, the players could very well be spending time on online casino real money just blowing some steam after a long season.
Kevin Durant has been heavily rumored to be traded to the Raptors this offseason, but the Raptors’ reluctance to include Scottie Barnes makes it highly unlikely these two teams will ever come to some sort of agreement unless the Raptors decide to change their mind and determine it’s worth losing him for a run at arguably the greatest player in the game today.
It appears highly unlikely that the Raptors will ever budge on their reluctance to trade Barnes so that in turn makes it highly unlikely that KD will come north of the border.
Still, this team as currently constructed is loaded with potential.
Pascal SIakam is coming off a season in which he was just named to the All-NBA Third Team, which is no small feat when you consider how much talent the NBA has out on the wings.
Siakam is exactly the type of player that thrives in the modern NBA with his ability to score the ball in a multitude of ways and make plays for his teammates no matter where he is out on the court.
He’s also the switchable, physical defender that has the ability to take the opposing team’s best player out of the game.
Fred VanVleet has also established himself as an up-and-coming point guard with his ability to shoot the ball, get to the rim and be the primary playmaker for his teammates.
OG Anunoby has shown tremendous promise as a two-way win for a while now. Health has been a concern for him, but if he can stay healthy, his ability to score the ball and defend at a high level should really help the Raptors next season and in the future, as he is just 25 years old.
Gary Trent Jr. has come in and become the addition the Raptors have so desperately needed, especially after they decided to trade away Norman Powell. Trent has established himself as an excellent 3-point shooter and defender, which is important for any contending team to have at the guard position.
Barnes appears destined for superstardom, and while he may not achieve that next season, he should at least be able to take the next step and really hone in on his overall skill set after winning Rookie of the Year.
The Raptors have all of the pieces to be a good basketball team next season, but the question becomes, can they contend with the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, and Philadelphia 76ers for top positioning in the Eastern Conference?
As things currently stand, they aren’t likely going to be better than any of those aforementioned teams, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t be competitive against them, especially if Barnes takes the next step in his career and Siakam continues to play the level of basketball he was playing at last season.
You can’t teach size, grit, and hustle, which are all characteristics that the Raptors possess, alongside talent, of course. You also can’t teach the coaching style of Nick Nurse, who continuously brings out the best out of each and every one of his players.
If things shake out well for the Raptors next season, they can perhaps take a first-round series against one of those teams if those teams are dealing with injuries or chemistry issues.
We’ve seen time and time again that heavily favored teams end up faltering due to those types of issues.
However, it’s in everyone’s best interest to temper expectations and let the young kids develop the continuity necessary to build a dynasty because that’s what ends up winning in the long run.