The Toronto Raptors have set themselves up to be in a heated battle for a top-4 seed in the Eastern Conference this season. These are the teams that will be fighting alongside them this season for home-court advantage.
The 2019-2020 NBA season is shaping up to be the most evenly matched basketball campaign in recent memory, featuring a group of teams in the top-tier with a chance to win, but no real overwhelming favourite. Around 6-8 teams genuinely have championship aspirations, and that isn't something that has been said in many years.
In the Eastern Conference specifically, the same frontrunners are back for more this season, but none of the top-level squads necessarily made improvements as much as they did move sideways: The Boston Celtics gained Kemba Walker but lost Kyrie Irving. The Philadelphia 76ers got Josh Richardson and Al Horford but lost Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick.
This means that even with the loss of load-management-pioneer and world champion Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors are contenders for a top seed in the conference once again.
The key for the Raptors this season will be the development of Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and OG Anunoby. If Toronto can have significant progress from all three players over the course of the season, they will be in the conversation with every other team at the top of the East, making home-court in the first round a very attainable goal.
With that goal in mind and the young NBA season beginning to take shape, it's time to evaluate the Raptors competition for home-court in the 2020 playoffs.