Toronto Raptors
Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

The Toronto Raptors had a good year last year before losing to the Boston Celtics in game 7. They put up an outstanding effort after losing Kawhi Leonard in free agency. Toronto was able to bring back Fred VanVleet and added a couple of other players to the roster this year.

Key Additions: Aron Baynes, Alex Len, DeAndre Bembry, Malachi Flynn

Baynes started well last season but did not play much down the stretch for the Phoenix Suns. He made nine threes in one game and shot 35% from three, which is good for him. Len is a player than can rebound and shoot a little bit. He will add depth to the Raptors’ front line. Bembry plays good defense, but his offensive game could be better. Flynn is a crafty point guard who could be outstanding in pick and roll offense. In college, he excelled in pick and roll situations.

Keys Losses: Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

The Raptors lost some veterans on the front line in Ibaka and Gasol. Ibaka brought stretch four ability, and they will miss his 15 points per game. Gasol got a high basketball IQ and good team defense; he was rarely out of position. Hollis-Jefferson was another capable defender for the Raptors that is now gone.

Staring Five; Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Aron Baynes

Lowry enters the season with the last year of his contract but still is a solid player for Toronto had some big games in the playoffs. VanVleet is a player that keeps getting better; he was used a lot more this past year and did not disappoint. In this season, he will need to continue the growth. Anunoby is an excellent on-ball defender. He brought his three-point percentage up to 39%, Siakam one of the best two-way players in the NBA, played outstanding last season but struggled big time in the series against the Celtics. Look for him to improve more this season. Baynes will be the Center; he plays hard, and if he continues to improve his outside shooting, Baynes will be able to help space the floor.

Outlook

The Raptors could be in that 4-5 this year in the Eastern conference because they play tough defense and are well-coached. The east is a little more crowded with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving returning from the Brooklyn Nets. If Anunoby and Siakiam continue to develop offensively, Toronto could scare some teams.

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