Toronto Raptors preseason roundtable: Hottest take, predicted finish, and more

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Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors – Terence Davis (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)

The Toronto Raptors are preparing to defend their title. As they get ready for the season to start, we asked some of our contributors the key questions heading into the year.

It’s prediction time people! The Toronto Raptors are prepping to defend their NBA Championship and Raptors Rapture is prepping to defend our title as the best NBA blog.

As we both prepare for our title defenses, we gathered some of our top contributors to ask them the biggest questions heading into the season. Who will take the biggest leap, hottest take, predicted finish, and more!

The player who takes the biggest step this season?

Mike Bossetti:

I’m gonna say Norman Powell. OG Anunoby is the easy answer (and probably the right answer) but let’s have some fun. Norman Powell is athletic, can shoot, and if he shows a little more awareness off the ball, can be a problem defensively. The only thing holding Norm back is consistency, the type of consistency you might find as an everyday starter.

Powell doesn’t quite have the ceiling of OG, but there is no reason he can’t be a microwave scorer at the Raptors two-guard position.

Mark Birdsell:

The player who is going to take the biggest step this season is Terence Davis. Davis is going to be a fan favourite in Toronto due to his hard-working style and grinder mentality.

Davis improved his draft stock with strong play at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament and then the G League Elite Camp. He had the opportunity to be selected in the second round of the draft but turned down those offers because he wasn’t interested in signing a two-way contract.

Davis signed a two-year contract with the Raptors as an undrafted free agent, and it appears Toronto plans to develop him as a point guard. Davis will likely spend the beginning of his career with the 905, but expect to see him in the rotation by the end of the season.

Michael Walton II:

My initial reaction was newcomer Terence Davis but I’ll go with Fred VanVleet here. Last season VanVleet hit career-high in points (11.0), rebounds (2.6), and assists (4.8) per game. This is what happens when you play next to a superstar such as Kawhi Leonard and a developing one in Pascal Siakam.

With Leonard’s departure, expect VanVleet to help pick up some of the scoring slack, likely getting just north of 10 shots per game after taking 9.4 per game last season. VanVleet also, after never starting a game in his career, started 28 games last season. Though Kyle Lowry was just signed to a one-year contract extension, the Raptors will want him healthy for a postseason push as long as that is a clear and attainable goal.

This means both more starts and more minutes for VanVleet, even more so when you consider that the Lowry-VanVleet duo had a +14.4 Net Rating over 661 minutes together in the 2018-19 regular season. All around VanVleet will have more opportunity this season–in a contract year no less–and I expect him to take full advantage.

Andrew Hughes

Can it be anyone else other than Fred VanVleet? Seriously, think back to that quote Nurse said to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan upon Kawhi Leonard leaving about Pascal Siakam and VanVleet:

“I told them, ‘There are 20-plus shots up for grabs.’ They both grabbed their right shoulders and said, ‘We’re ready.'”

We already knew that Siakam would have more time with the ball in his hands. But, now, it seems that the reins will be VanVleet’s for the taking as Nurse also will experiment with Kyle Lowry at shooting guard alongside VanVleet.

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