Toronto Raptors: Who from the Southwest Division can compete with the Raptors?

SAN ANTONIO,TX - OCTOBER 23: LaMarcus Aldridge
SAN ANTONIO,TX - OCTOBER 23: LaMarcus Aldridge /
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NEW ORLEANS, LA – MARCH 21: Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday
NEW ORLEANS, LA – MARCH 21: Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday /


Last season actual: 48 – 34

This season forecast: 46 – 36

Welcome: Julius Randle, Elfrid Payton, and Tony Carr

Farewell:  DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo

The shadow of Demarcus Cousins continues to hang over this franchise. “Boogie” left New Orleans to sign a discount deal with Golden State despite Anthony Davis’s touching homage.

The loss of Cousins may not be as significant as the loss of Rondo. The former All-Star formed a formidable backcourt with Jrue Holiday and was instrumental in the Pelicans’ sweep of the Blazers.

The Pelicans brought in former lottery pick Elfrid Payton to make up for Rondo’s loss. While he isn’t as savvy as Rondo, Payton has some of his playmaking and all-around ability. He’s also still just 24 and can still elevate his game although he’s hit a wall in the last four seasons.

New Orleans also did not address their two biggest needs: outside shooting and a good swingman. E’Twaun Moore will return as the starting small forward, but he is a bench player on most other playoff teams.

Nikola Mirotic remains the team’s best three-point shooter although he is inconsistent and a liability on defence.

Adding Julius Randle is also a head-scratcher. The former Laker is an adequate scorer and decent defender, but he mainly operates within the paint and doesn’t stretch the defence. It’s also hard to see how he coexists with Davis on offence. He might be better suited to be the sixth man for the team.

Out of the Southwest teams, New Orleans regressed most. Davis will have a stronger case for MVP if he plays like a man possessed again and they could still fall short.