Are the Toronto Raptors Better than Last Season?


Are the dinos better? This question has been haunting me since word leaked that the Toronto Raptors had inked DeMarre Carroll to a four year $60 million contract. I REALLY liked this move for a team short on grit and grind players over the past couple of seasons. Carroll doesn’t just show he can be a grinder but he can also stretch the floor. He shot a more than respectable clip of .395 from distance last season which gives the Raptors yet another weapon in their up-tempo offense.

May 22, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll (5) and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) go after a loose ball during the first quarter in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

This signing also helps with the concern of Terrence Ross as a starter and if James Johnson’s playoff absence means he is on his way out. Ross was a shaky choice in only his third season. What looked like a combination of a lack of confidence and an inability to keep up with bigger wings placed Ross on the bench for the tail end of the 2014-15 campaign. As for Johnson, when a starter he averaged 11 points, 5 rebounds with a block and a steal. With scarce playing time in the playoffs, JJ and coach Casey may be on different pages again.

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Toronto did not include retaining one of the longest tenured and hardest working players in Amir Johnson. With him off to the Boston Celtics, it has left a void not only in our starting lineup but also the way the Raptors will play ball. By this I mean it is almost a guarantee that we will be seeing A LOT of small ball. We only have two players signed who measure taller than 6’10″. One of them is still not NBA ready (Lucas Nogueira) and the other one, Jonas Valanciunas has yet to earn enough confidence from coach Casey to play long stints in the fourth quarter. Securing a veteran presence like Luis Scola on a small scale contract was indeed a wise move by the Raptors brass but the aging Argentine still doesn’t fill the void at centre and his days of starting are long gone.

On paper the Raptors look loaded with defensive talent. The Canadian kid, Corey Joseph, is known to be a terrific one-on-one defender. On draft night we picked up Delon Wright and Norman Powell, who were both selected for their work on the defensive end.

Finally, to help fill the void left by Amir and Tyler Hansbrough (now a Charlotte Hornet) we acquired a hyper-athletic shot blocker in Bismack Biyombo. With our All-Star backcourt still intact, JV showing improvement on both ends each year and the addition of Carroll, I see the Raptors as a threat in the eastern conference and the top team in the Atlantic division.

Greg Chow is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture “No effort is too little if the desire is true.”

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