The Toronto Raptors are officially back in business, as Nick Nurse and Masai Ujiri brought this team back to the postseason following their brief stint in the lottery. 48 wins and a No. 5 seed constitutes a fairly successful year.
Ujiri now has to scale his operation and enter the next phase of building a contender. Now that they have been established as a postseason fixture, Nurse and the rest of the squad need to leap into the contender tier by proving they can once again survive the playoff gauntlet.
With the defending Eastern champion Celtics and 2022 playoff nemesis 76ers in their division, the Raptors have a harder path to the finals than most. Still, the latest Raptors odds from the number-crunchers in Las Vegas suggest that Toronto is closer to a championship than most expected.
According to WynnBET, the Raptors have +5000 odds (bet $100 to win $5,000) of hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy next year. These are tied with the Chicago Bulls for the sixth-best odds in the Eastern Conference, though only the Jazz and Hawks have worse title odds among teams who made the playoffs last year.
Will 2022-23 be the year that Toronto gets ring No. 2? Probably not, but never say never!
Toronto Raptors odds: Will the Raptors compete for a title?
The Raptors are in a much better place than they were at the start of last season. Scottie Barnes is fresh off Rookie of the Year, Pascal Siakam was All-NBA, and Fred VanVleet was the first undrafted All-Star in 15 years. The Raptors are back to being feared.
Toronto has a few issues that need to be worked out in full before they can enter that contender tier, but Nurse has laid a very robust foundation. The squad went from surprising people in their playoff run to moving back to a situation where winning is expected.
The top four teams in the East last year (the Heat, Celtics, 76ers, and Bucks) are not going anywhere. Likewise, a healthy Nets team will do some damage in the postseason. Toronto needs to figure out a way to summit these mountains before they become a proven championship contender.
There’s reason to be optimistic about the team this year, as they went from an also-ran in their Tampa excursion to another playoff fixture in the same mold as many of Ujiri’s past squads. A championship would be extremely unlikely, but there is a universe in which everything goes right and they get some hardware.