The Toronto Raptors have decided to run it back and not upset the apple cart too much this offseason. Considering how successful their 2021-22 season was, changing a team that won 48 games despite some issues in roster construction makes a ton of sense.
The only issue that the Raptors may face is an Eastern Conference that is much improved. The Hawks and Cavaliers announced that they are not to be taken lightly after trading for Dejounte Murray and Donovan Mitchell, respectively. Many of the teams who finished above Toronto last year had good offseasons.
The Raptors have subsequently received a severe lashing from many of the preseason prognosticators. Can a young team that didn’t make any significant starting lineup changes possibly compete in a conference that has benefitted from so many seismic moves in the last few months?
Optimistic Raptors fans can point to the fact that many of the teams in the conference have also gotten worse amid all of the blockbuster trades that have gone down. Several teams who will compete with Toronto have declined this offseason in a fairly noteworthy fashion.
3 Toronto Raptors rivals who got worse
3. Charlotte Hornets
This one is admittedly through no fault of Charlotte organizationally. They had a perfect offseason plan blown up thanks to the stupidity and disgusting nature of Miles Bridges. The impending free agent’s domestic violence incident has left Charlotte without their second-best player.
Even with all that financial room opened up because of Bridges, the Hornets did little to address their many deficiencies. Mason Plumlee could once again go into the season as the starting center, and Montrezl Harrell’s bench scoring was ripped away from them by Philadelphia.
The Toronto Raptors are better than the Hornets.
The Raptors beat the Hornets two out of three times last year, scoring at least 116 points in both of those wins. While they rehired a defensive head coach in Steve Clifford, they lack the high-end defensive personnel he needs to implement his scheme. This could lead to a rough adjustment period.
LaMelo Ball is a fantastic talent, and his continued development was supposed to be what Charlotte was counting on as they try to escape the play-in doldrums. Without proper support around him, Toronto can safely disregard the Hornets as a threat to leapfrog them.