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

Toronto Raptors - OG Anunoby (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - OG Anunoby (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
4 of 5
Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Pascal Siakam (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

What will decide Raptors’ success this year?

Mike Bossetti:

Can the Raptors find enough offense to help out what appears to be a top-end defensive unit?

Toronto performed well without Kawhi Leonard last season, but there are a couple of reasons why their 17-5 record is a little misleading. Without him on the floor, the Raptors posted an offensive rating of just 107.7, a figure which would rank 23rd in the NBA. Without Danny Green to space the offense that figure could be even worse.

The Raptors lack shot creation, spacing, and many individual bucket-getters. What they do have is an incredible set of veterans who know how to play and impact the game in a million little ways. Toronto might be the smartest team in the entire league; we’ll see if those smarts are enough to maintain an above-average offense or if individual talent really does trump all.

Michael Walton II:

It feels like to easy of an answer, which probably means it’s the right one: Pascal Siakam. Last season only 14 players had a usage rate of 30% or more, one of those was Kawhi Leonard. While the quantity of returning players makes me believe the Raptors defense will still be great, the quality (or lack thereof) of their collective shot-creating ability leaves me quite worried.

Next season we’ll be able to tell if the Raptors were a playoff team just by looking at Siakam’s numbers. Did he get near 20 points per game? Did he hover around 4.0 assists per game? Did he shoot league-average from 3-point range? If the answer to any of those questions is no, chances are the Raptors underperforming even the most modest expectations.

Mark Birdsell

This might seem like an obvious answer, but Pascal Siakam will be primarily responsible for the Raptors’ success this season. Siakam has gone from a late first-round draft pick to a borderline All-Star.

Last season he averaged 16.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, and this year I expect those figures to increase to 20 points and 9 rebounds. He will almost certainly be named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team. But if Siakam can’t handle the pressure of being the Raptors’ primary option, the team is likely looking at a first-round exit in the playoffs.

Andrew Hughes

The most critical man to the Raptors’ success will be Nick Nurse. Last year, there was a collective stroke of genius tied to Nurse. Now, he’ll get to prove if it was all for naught. He will have to be schematically, defensively, and systematically smarter than his opponents if he hopes to shell out the losses. And, right now, we only have the proof of his worth when he spent time with an arguably top-five NBA talent.

Perhaps, though, this might be Nurse’s most fun year to date as the pressure is off for at least one season. As a coach, he’ll get to experiment with odd line-ups, statistical scenarios, and try to uncover hidden gems on his roster. Doesn’t that all sound like a blast?