We know what the Raptors have accomplished in the past – a few All-Star appearances, dunk champs, and five straight post-season appearances – including an Eastern Conference final, and a top seed in the East last season.
What they have not done is appear in the largest basketball stage in the world – the Raptors have never made it to the NBA finals. But this season, beginning tonight, that could all change.
After club president Masai Ujiri shook the whole country – and himself – he acquired arguably the best two-way player in the league, Kawhi Leonard. Danny Green was also brought over from the Spurs in a trade package for Jakob Poeltl and DeMar DeRozan (</3), who will add a strong veteran presence to the team, and quite frankly, seems like he is enjoying his time here and bonding with other vet, Serge Ibaka.
Especially now, since LeBron James – who ended the last three straight Raptors playoff appearance, is now competing in the Western Conference.
“If our team goal is to win a championship, you add some champions to the mix,” backup guard Fred VanVleet said of the deal for Leonard and Green. “The goal is to have the best team possible and I like our chances. I think that come playoff time, those two guys will be vital to our playoff success.”
What should Raptors fans keep their eye out for this season?
- This Raptors team actually plays defense now!
- More freedom offensively. If Siakam grabs a rebound, he’ll take it all the way for the quick lay in. And make it.
- Versatility in the starters and bench mob (if that will even be a thing anymore since the line-ups will be more meshed this year).
- Higher efficiency in their long-range jumpers.
“It’s not so much that we’re trying to shoot a ton of threes, we’re just trying to get good, high-value shots. Some nights it happens to be a lot of threes,” head coach Nick Nurse said. “We’ve got more guys that can shoot em’ at a higher percentage so that would probably tend to favor that we’re gonna shoot a few more. But we’ve got to create them first with great ball movement, cutting, rhythm, chemistry.”
- Remember when Greg Monroe and Jonas Valanciounas got into a scuffle last year? Well, Monroe got traded from the Bucks to the Raptors – and expect the same level of toughness.
- A finals appearance.
The Toronto Raptors host the Cleveland Cavaliers in both team’s season openers tonight at 7:30 PM. This will be the first game the Raptors play in the exact-same but name-changed Scotiabank Arena. This will also be Toronto’s first official time to see and welcome Kawhi Leonard the true Toronto way. If the city wants him to stay longer than one year, the journey and efforts start tonight.