The 2021-22 NBA season is fast approaching for the Toronto Raptors, and the question is, is this team better than last year’s team and a playoff team compared to the other Eastern Conference teams?
The Raptors had it rough last season playing down in Tampa, it’s no secret to anyone. However, the team is back in Toronto this season after getting approval to play their games in the North again.
They lost a couple of players who were beyond fan favorites here in the city and have added some new faces to the roster as well, so the main question to everyone is if this team is better than last season and if they are a playoff team?
You could definitely go either way with this topic, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that yes, this 2021-22 Toronto Raptors team is better and is a playoff team, but that’s totally up to them in the end if they can put it all together on the court and win some games.
The Toronto Raptors could compete now that they’re in Canada.
Before we start talking about the 2021-22 Raptors and all the roster changes, we have to quickly talk about the significance of the Raptors getting approval to play their home games back home in Toronto.
We all know the team was forced to play their “home” games down in Tampa last season, and we all know that was one of the worst things that happened from a competitive point of view.
Not only was it tough playing your “home” games in another city for a season, but playing your “home” games in an entirely different country is on another level.
Luckily, for the Raptors, they get to return back home for the 2021-22 season and play in front of the wonderful fans in Toronto for the first time in a long time. The Raptors start their preseason on October 4 when they host the 76ers, and the actual regular season gets underway on October 20 when they welcome the Washington Wizards.
So with all that has gone on this off-season with the Toronto Raptors and departing with The Greatest Raptor of All-Time, Kyle Lowry, the team has also brought in a handful of new faces along with the newly drafted players from the 2021 NBA draft.
- Scottie Barnes – 2021 Draft
- Delano Banton – 2021 Draft
- David Johnson – 2021 Draft
- Justin Champagnie – 2021 Undrafted Free Agent
- Ishmail Wainright – 2017 Undrafted Free Agent
- Sam Dekker – Free Agent
- Isaac Bonga – Free Agent
- Svi Mykhailiuk – Free Agent
- Reggie Perry – Free Agent
- Precious Achiuwa – Sign and Trade (Kyle Lowry)
- Goran Dragic – Sign and Trade (Kyle Lowry)
Are they a playoff team?
I truly think they are a playoff team. They might not be at the very top of the Eastern Conference like they always used to be, but I honestly see this team fighting for a spot between the sixth and eighth seeds.
The East is a good conference, we should all know that, as they have the reigning NBA champions in the Bucks, the Nets with the big three, the still talented 76ers, and a Heat team that got a lot better over the offseason. Even the Celtics, who may not be on the same level as the Bucks or Nets, are still a team with good players on their roster.
Getting through the Eastern Conference will by no means be easy for the Raptors, but this team has gotten slightly better compared to last season, plus on top of the fact they get to play their home games back in Toronto in front of their real fans who obviously give them a major boost during games.
This squad honestly has the potential to prove a lot of doubters wrong this season, and with Lowry gone, it gives guys like Fred VanVleet an even bigger role on the team, and with that, it allows other players to get themselves into bigger roles and grow their game even more.
The Raptors also beefed up at the four and five spots with guys like Khem Birch and Precious Achiuwa. One of the main weaknesses in the Raptors game last season was rim protection from their big men and rebounding the basketball, and these two could help fix things up.
They looked like a brand new team when Birch came into the lineup last year, and with his presence on the court back for 2021, that’s an encouraging sign. Achiuwa is a big guy that can play the four or the five position and rebound the basketball for the Raptors.
It really hurt this team last season when their two bigs were Aron Baynes and Alex Len. Both players couldn’t rebound or protect the rim how Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol did during their time in Toronto, so it’s great to have these guys who can give you those strengths and use them when they’re on the floor.
With Gary Trent Jr. back for the long haul, a very intriguing rookie class led by Scottie Barnes, and OG Anunoby poised to break out, things are looking up for Toronto. Additionally, the Raptors getting to play back home in Toronto could help this team shock some people.
When I look at this squad, the potential starting lineup, the very underrated and young bench who are all hungry to play basketball, and the fact they’re returning back home for the first time in a long time, these Raptors won’t make it easy on anyone in the Eastern Conference. It’ll be fun watching Raptors basketball again, especially back in Toronto.