Toronto Raptors Offseason Mailbag: Westbrook trade, starting wings, and more

Toronto Raptors - Marc Gasol (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Marc Gasol (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors summer seems to be about finished. We answered your biggest questions after one of the most important offseasons in franchise history.

The NBA offseason is just about finished. Sure, there might be a few more tweaks to the end of rosters. But for the most part, everyone, including the Toronto Raptors, has their roster set. Executives, coaches, and staff will begin their very short vacations before the madness starts back up soon.

For the Raptors, the offseason was a clear disappointment. Not in anything the staff itself did, Masai Ujiri actually recovered quite well considering the circumstances, but anytime you lose the Finals MVP and possibly the best player in the NBA, it’s hard to come away anything but heartbroken.

Still, the Raptors made a few interesting moves around the margins. Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Matt Thomas were all value propositions. And although they probably won’t be competing for a title next year, Toronto could still be very competitive in a weak Eastern Conference.

But what were your biggest questions after an eventful offseason? We took to Twitter and Facebook in this week’s mailbag:

Toronto Raptors Brazil (Direct Message) asks: Do you think Fred VanVleet could start at SG next year?

The short answer is no. Fred, for all his toughness, is still 6-foot tall on a good day. He can play stints in a dual point guard lineup, but starting him at the two would be stretching him too thin.

Besides, the Raptors need him as the backup point guard anyways. The team doesn’t want Cameron Payne running the second unit, so they’ll likely make sure to stagger VanVleet and Lowry’s minutes so one is on the floor at all times. VanVleet is great. He’s not a starting shooting guard.

Jovin Tardif (@jovintardif) asks: What do you think of next year’s team?

Provided the team goes in with its current roster, I think the Raptors have a shot to compete for the three seed next year. After the departure of Leonard and Danny Green, the team isn’t in the top-tier with Philadelphia or Milwaukee anymore, but they can reasonably make an argument against anyone else in the East.

Now to be clear, the three seed is the ceiling, not the most likely outcome. If I had to guess at this point in time, I’d put Toronto in the five spot, battling someone like Boston or Indiana in an exciting first round of the NBA playoffs.

Vash The Stampede (@ThrogThe) asks: Why couldn’t you land Westbrook. We need another star to carry us

A lot of things to hit on here. First being, we don’t decide who the Raptors trade for on this site, and in fact, I would have accepted the Russell Westbrook and Paul George trade if it was on the table. With that being said, it probably was never on the table.

OKC netted six first-round picks, four pick swaps, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander from those two. Pascal Siakam is great. He’s not worth that much.

Another  important thing to note is that Russell Westbrook wasn’t the star of that deal, or at least not the most important one. Toronto picked up the phone to grab Paul George; Westbrook was a secondary piece.

In the end, Toronto wasn’t seriously considered in that deal. That was a trade for George to go to the Clippers, with the Raptors serving as a faux fake-team to drive up the price. Considering L.A.’s recruiting practices on Kawhi, I think Masai Ujiri was happy to play his role in that charade.

Toronto Raptors Brazil (Direct Message) asks: Who will be our starting SF, Stanley Johnson or OG?

I believe Stanley Johnson was a nice high-upside play by Masai Ujiri, but the fans perception of him seems to be going out of control right now.

He wasn’t offered a qualifying offer by the New Orleans Pelicans, and as a 24-year-old with tremendous upside, he received less than $4 million on the free-agent market.  That’s because, as a player right now, he is not very good.

That doesn’t mean he was a bad signing. That doesn’t mean he can’t get better. But from what we’ve seen from him so far, he’s not nearly on the level of OG Anunoby.

Why the Raptors should shift their attention towards 2021. dark. Next

Anunoby was starting for the first seed Raptors as a rookie. Johnson couldn’t crack the Detroit Pistons or New Orleans Pelicans starting lineup last season. The gap between the two is significant. So I guess this a long-winded way of saying: OG.