Toronto Raptors should go for homecourt next season

Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Despite losing their star player, the Toronto Raptors are still one of the more talented teams in the Eastern Conference. They should go searching for homecourt next season.

The Eastern Conference projects to be a wild place to play next season, and the Toronto Raptors are wrapped up in the thick of it. Losing the star power of Kawhi Leonard has hurt, but the Raptors still have the chance to be one of the best teams in the East and should make the most of it.

A whole host of teams got a lot better or found ways to stay just as relevant this offseason. From the Miami Heat adding Jimmy Butler in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers that saw Josh Richardson head in the opposite direction. The Sixers also went one step further and added Al Horford, who was part of a mass exodus from the Bostin Celtics along with Kyrie Irving who joined the Brooklyn Nets. Oh, and so did Kevin Durant.

Things got messy and interesting in the East.

There are two ways to look at the Raptors offseason and how it compares to the rest of the East. The Raptors regressed from the standpoint of losing two of their best players — one of which is a transcendent superstar. That hurts, a lot.

But, contrary to the beliefs of some, this team hasn’t dropped off of a cliff. The roster still features the likes of Kyle Lowry, a five-time NBA All-Star, if you paid attention to Strizzy’s intro, as well as the reigning MIP, Pascal Siakam.

The Raptors aren’t stacked, per se, but they still have a wealth of talent that could easily contribute to a 50-win season this year. That should be the goal, for sure.

The two top teams look to be set with the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks, barring injuries, looking to fight it out to be tog dogs in the East. From then on, spots three to six remain wide open, with the Raptors, Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets all looking to be within shouting distance.

When the margins are that tight, it’s fair to have some skepticism. Is it worth it to gun for the third or fourth seed when you can exhaust your players only to end up falling to sixth or seventh?

Yes, of course, it is.

The Raptors are in a situation where wins could become a finite commodity over the next couple of seasons – if a rebuild is indeed on the cards. A large portion of the team’s roster come off the payroll this year, too. Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, and Fred VanVleet are all free agents at the end of the season and their futures with the team remain tenuous at best.

The list of Eastern Conference teams to win titles in the last five years is the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers. Only one of those teams still has the bulk of its championship core on the roster still. Leonard and Green were paramount to the team’s success this past season but it’s a 15-man roster for a reason.

You need contributors from all over and the Raptors, with a team deserving of title credentials, were able to provide that. The fact that this core still remains means there’s championship pedigree somewhere, no matter how far off it is.

The Raptors seemingly have everything and nothing to play for this year, their future looks to be heading down a different trajectory so why not go out with a bang?

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There’s more than enough talent on this team to make the 2019-20 season fun and highly competitive. And there’s certainly enough talent on the roster to finish with homecourt advantage.

Lay your chips on the line once again Raptors, there’s everything to play for.