The Raptors have run into LeBron James the last few years, but now he is off in Hollywood. Kawhi Leonard found himself in Toronto, and while they had to give him DeMar DeRozan for him, Leonard is a big time upgrade. They have a great bench, and still their core minus DeRozan. They are up with the elite teams of the Eastern Conference, but now could this be the year they can make the finals? Boston and Philly are the teams that will likely stand in their way, and Leonard is a tremendous upgrade on both sides of the court to get them past.
After averaging over 20 points in back-to-back seasons, Kyle Lowry averaged just 16 last year, shooting 42% from the field. He also played four less minutes per game, but did see a drop off. His steals went down a little as well. Lowry will now play with Leonard, after having DeRozan take all the usage over the last few seasons. It will be interesting to see him play with Danny Green, who is stronger from three than DeRozan. Lowry is now 32 years old, and turns 33 mid-season. He is getting up there, and you have to wonder if last season was a fluke, or is Lowry starting to trend downwards?
Last season Toronto really spread themselves from the field with their bench play. Delon Wright and Fred Vanvleet were both excellent change of pace guards to help rest Kyle Lowry or handle the game when he was struggling. Toronto was also blowing out a lot of teams which gave them time in the fourth a lot as well. They also have now Greg Monroe and Pascal Siakam in the front court, which adds to their depth. C.J. Miles and OG Anunoby are backup depth players. Toronto will likely see similar production from these guys, who are going to be entering the same role.
Despite winning Coach Of The Year last season, Toronto had failed to beat the Cavs again and Dwane Casey got the boot. He is now in Detroit, while Toronto turned the head coaching job over to Nick Nurse. He has been an assistant with the Raptors for quite some time, which offers some familiarity, as well as similar coaching techniques from Casey. It is hard to see Toronto fall off a cliff with Casey, and his regular season coaching was never an issue. Toronto failed to adjust in the playoffs, but then against how do you stop the greatest player in LeBron James.
Kawhi Leonard is 27 years old, and had zero interest in playing in Toronto before being traded there. It was been rumored that Toronto has grown on him and potentially could resign. If Toronto gets the vibes that Leonard will not resign, could they move him for a big return. Teams like the Lakers will likely try and gauge interest at times, especially with room for a contact moving forward, and the ability to build a team with LeBron already there. Toronto would likely have to be underperforming to do all this, and the likeliness of that happening is pretty slim.