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Toronto Raptors: NBA season preview, roster and schedule 2018

After losing some key pieces in the offseason, are the Raptors still a threat to be a top team in the East?


Offseason Recap

Arrivals:
C.J. Miles, OG Anunoby, KJ McDaniels, Andy Rautins

Departures: DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph, Patrick Patterson, P. J. Tucker

The Toronto Raptors had some tough decisions to make this offseason in terms of which of their key free agents they would sign. In the end, they committed big-money three-year deals to their big-name stars, Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka.

But in paying those players, they had to sacrifice some key role players. Patrick Patterson and P. J. Tucker both left in free agency, while they traded away DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph for cap relief. The Raptors signed veteran CJ Miles to make up for some of the wing depth and shooting they lost, and drafted a promising rookie in OG Anunoby who has potential to be a steal at No. 23.

However, their depth now has some significant question marks heading into the year, putting their ability to compete among the Eastern Conference’s elite into some doubt.

Projected Depth Chart

C – Jonas Valanciunas / Jakob Poeltl / Lucas Nogueira

PF – Serge Ibaka / Pascal Siakam

SF – C.J. Miles / Bruno Caboclo / OG Anunoby

SG – DeMar DeRozan / Norman Powell / KJ McDaniels

PG – Kyle Lowry / Delon Wright / Fred VanVleet

Strengths

Much like the Suns and the Trail Blazers, the Raptors’ backcourt makes their offense go. But unlike those two teams, Toronto’s dynamic duo of Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are both established All-Stars who have lifted Toronto to elite levels of efficiency offensively over the last few years. 

DeRozan probably won’t ever add a three-pointer to his arsenal, but he’s an absolutely gifted scorer who can get to the line almost at will and has a nifty mid-range game. Meanwhile, Lowry has turned himself into an outstanding outside shooter and remains a strong floor general who improves his teammates. And big man Jonas Valanciunas has his limitations as a player, but he provides the Raptors with an added dimension thanks to his terrific offensive rebounding. 

The Raptors are also adept at winning the turnover battle. They take care of the ball very well as a team and can force their opponents to a lot of miscues.

Weaknesses

While the Raptors have consistently had a top offense during the regular season, they just haven’t found a way to make their style click when it matters most in the postseason. Due to their lack of passing, they become predictable and much easier to prepare for in a playoff setting. DeRozan’s effectiveness plummets when he doesn’t get the calls he usually gets from his isolations, while Lowry has a worrying habit of either getting hurt or running out of gas late in the season.

The Raptors won’t be nearly as deep as they were last season with the departures of Tucker, Patterson, Carroll, and Joseph. While they have younger players in Norman Powell and Delon Wright to take on a bigger role, it remains to be seen if the unit can stay quite as effective.

Their wing depth could also be a concern. Miles has a habit of missing a handful of games, and if he misses extended time, the raw and inexperienced duo of OG Anunoby and Bruno Caboclo may need to play bigger roles than they’re ready for.

Meanwhile, the loss of Tucker, Patterson, and Carroll will damage their ability to vary their lineups. They now lack the types of versatile forwards who can stretch the floor and allow Ibaka to play more at center.

Player to Watch – OG Anunoby

It will be interesting to see what role Anunoby plays on this Raptors team. The rookie was touted as a possible lottery pick in the most recent draft due to his incredible defensive potential. However, he slid down to Toronto with the 23rd pick due to an ACL injury as well as concerns about his lack of reliable offensive skills.

But as head coach Dwane Casey showed with Pascal Siakam last season, he’s willing to throw a rookie out there and make him play a role even if he might not be completely ready for it. And due to the Raptors’ somewhat limited options, Casey may have to call on Anunoby to play a more significant part on the team this year. Anunoby is likely to be a nonfactor offensively like Siakam was, but if he can just hold his own defensively, he could end up being a surprisingly useful piece for Toronto.

2017/18 Schedule

1 Oct 19, 2017 vs. Chicago Bulls    

2 Oct 21, 2017 vs. Philadelphia 76ers    

3 Oct 23, 2017 @ San Antonio Spurs    

4 Oct 25, 2017 @ Golden State Warriors    

5 Oct 27, 2017 @ Los Angeles Lakers    

6 Oct 30, 2017 @ Portland Trail Blazers    

7 Nov 1, 2017 @ Denver Nuggets    

8 Nov 3, 2017 @ Utah Jazz    

9 Nov 5, 2017 vs. Washington Wizards    

10 Nov 7, 2017 vs. Chicago Bulls    

11 Nov 9, 2017 vs. New Orleans Pelicans    

12 Nov 12, 2017 @ Boston Celtics    

13 Nov 14, 2017 @ Houston Rockets    

14 Nov 15, 2017 @ New Orleans Pelicans    

15 Nov 17, 2017 vs. New York Knicks    

16 Nov 19, 2017 vs. Washington Wizards    

17 Nov 22, 2017 @ New York Knicks    

18 Nov 24, 2017 @ Indiana Pacers    

19 Nov 25, 2017 @ Atlanta Hawks    

20 Nov 29, 2017 vs. Charlotte Hornets    

21 Dec 1, 2017 vs. Indiana Pacers    

22 Dec 5, 2017 vs. Phoenix Suns    

23 Dec 8, 2017 @ Memphis Grizzlies    

24 Dec 10, 2017 @ Sacramento Kings    

25 Dec 11, 2017 @ Los Angeles Clippers    

26 Dec 13, 2017 @ Phoenix Suns    

27 Dec 15, 2017 vs. Brooklyn Nets    

28 Dec 17, 2017 vs. Sacramento Kings    

29 Dec 20, 2017 @ Charlotte Hornets    

30 Dec 21, 2017 @ Philadelphia 76ers    

31 Dec 23, 2017 vs. Philadelphia 76ers    

32 Dec 26, 2017 @ Dallas Mavericks    

33 Dec 27, 2017 @ Oklahoma City Thunder    

34 Dec 29, 2017 vs. Atlanta Hawks    

35 Jan 1, 2018 vs. Milwaukee Bucks    

36 Jan 3, 2018 @ Chicago Bulls    

37 Jan 5, 2018 @ Milwaukee Bucks    

38 Jan 8, 2018 @ Brooklyn Nets    

39 Jan 9, 2018 vs. Miami Heat    

40 Jan 11, 2018 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers    

41 Jan 13, 2018 vs. Golden State Warriors    

42 Jan 15, 2018 @ Philadelphia 76ers    

43 Jan 17, 2018 vs. Detroit Pistons    

44 Jan 19, 2018 vs. San Antonio Spurs    

45 Jan 20, 2018 @ Minnesota Timberwolves    

46 Jan 24, 2018 @ Atlanta Hawks    

47 Jan 26, 2018 vs. Utah Jazz    

48 Jan 28, 2018 vs. Los Angeles Lakers    

49 Jan 30, 2018 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves    

50 Feb 1, 2018 @ Washington Wizards    

51 Feb 2, 2018 vs. Portland Trail Blazers    

52 Feb 4, 2018 vs. Memphis Grizzlies    

53 Feb 6, 2018 vs. Boston Celtics    

54 Feb 8, 2018 vs. New York Knicks    

55 Feb 11, 2018 @ Charlotte Hornets    

56 Feb 13, 2018 vs. Miami Heat    

57 Feb 14, 2018 @ Chicago Bulls    

58 Feb 23, 2018 vs. Milwaukee Bucks    

59 Feb 26, 2018 vs. Detroit Pistons    

60 Feb 28, 2018 @ Orlando Magic    

61 Mar 2, 2018 @ Washington Wizards    

62 Mar 4, 2018 vs. Charlotte Hornets    

63 Mar 6, 2018 vs. Atlanta Hawks    

64 Mar 7, 2018 @ Detroit Pistons    

65 Mar 9, 2018 vs. Houston Rockets    

66 Mar 11, 2018 @ New York Knicks    

67 Mar 13, 2018 @ Brooklyn Nets    

68 Mar 15, 2018 @ Indiana Pacers    

69 Mar 16, 2018 vs. Dallas Mavericks    

70 Mar 18, 2018 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder    

71 Mar 20, 2018 @ Orlando Magic    

72 Mar 21, 2018 @ Cleveland Cavaliers    

73 Mar 23, 2018 vs. Brooklyn Nets    

74 Mar 25, 2018 vs. Los Angeles Clippers    

75 Mar 27, 2018 vs. Denver Nuggets    

76 Mar 31, 2018 @ Boston Celtics    

77 Apr 3, 2018 @ Cleveland Cavaliers    

78 Apr 4, 2018 vs. Boston Celtics    

79 Apr 6, 2018 vs. Indiana Pacers    

80 Apr 8, 2018 vs. Orlando Magic    

81 Apr 9, 2018 @ Detroit Pistons    

82 Apr 11, 2018 @ Miami Heat 

Prediction

The Raptors have been a top-four seed over the last four years, but they will struggle to break into that level this season, especially with the Milwaukee Bucks expected to take another step up. However, there’s no reason to think they can’t be a solid playoff team in the fifth or sixth seed with around 45 wins if DeRozan and Lowry stay healthy.

The playoffs could be another story, though. Their style just doesn’t seem to be conducive to success against the best, and after losing the talent they did this summer, it’s hard to see them getting better. A first-round exit wouldn’t be surprising.

Is Toronto still a top team in East? Let us know in the comments below!

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Brad Taningco

Brad Taningco has been a RealSport NBA contributor since Decemeber 2016. But apart from basketball, he's also a fan of soccer, American football, baseball, and ice hockey.

Toronto Raptors: NBA season preview, roster and schedule 2018

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