The Toronto Raptors are coming off winning their first NBA Championship in franchise history by the lead man himself Kawhi Leonard, who unfortunately decided to leave Toronto and head for Los Angeles. But this victory did not come easy, they had to get rid of a long-lasting piece that not only hurt the hearts of fans but also players. DeMar DeRozan was drafted by the Raptors and became of the teams leading scorers during his career there. Now with the leaving of Leonard, they are basically in reset mode. Now, this doesn’t mean they’ll skip out on the playoffs this year, but it does mean that we won’t see the same results that we have seen that last year.

They brought back Kyle Lowry, who has turned into a good leader, and Marc Gasol, one of the most underrated big men in the league even though he is on the tail end of his career. They also brought back Fred VanVleet, who has turned into an outstanding backup point guard that can give you the spark you need to succeed. Pascal Siakam is coming into this season with a new contract that makes him one of the highest-paid players on his team, and he deserves every penny.

Point Guards

Credit: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
  • Kyle Lowry
  • Shamorie Ponds *Two-Way
  • Norman Powell
  • Fred VanVleet

Lowry is the man that controls the offense and things will stay that way until he either retires or leaves for another team. VanVleet is a player that has been playing with a chip on his shoulder ever since entering the league. After being an undrafted free agent and then starting in the G-League, he quickly found his way to a roster spot and accomplished what everyone in the league dreams of doing, which is capturing an NBA title. Powell is another good player to have your bench, for he is a really good defender to have that could cover both the point guard position and the shooting guard position.

Shooting Guards

Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images
  • Terence Davis
  • Patrick McCaw
  • Isaiah Taylor
  • Matt Thomas

Patrick McCaw will be running the show from the shooting guard position, while having two rookies in Thomas and Davis, and a two-year vet in Taylor. This shooting guard core is very young, which means that it has a lot of room to grow and become the next of All-Stars to take over the team when the team fully goes young. But before that, they’ll be learning from the few veterans they have on the team and continue to build the culture of winning based off of last year, that can truly help in the long run when the team is run by players five years and younger in the league.

Small Forwards

Credit: Ron Turenne/Getty Images
  • OG Anunoby
  • Oshae Brissett *Two-Way
  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
  • Stanley Johnson

This is another part of their young core and with everyone who plays this position, it gives them a chance to try and understand who can be the next guy up and help them get back to the NBA finals. OG Anunoby is going to be the man who is going to take this starting position.

Power Forwards

Credit: Reinhold Matay
  • Chris Boucher
  • Dewan Hernandez
  • Serge Ibaka
  • Pascal Siakam

Pascal will be the main one to play the power forward position, but if need be, Serge can play that position if they are trying to stay big on the inside. Serge can also come out to the three-point line and facilitate and even run from the top of the key. He can occasionally knock down a couple threes if need be. Chris is coming back for his second season and is hoping to be a good number two when the time is right. Even though Serge can play the power forward position we will see him play at the center position a lot more with Marc Gasol, which gives Chris a lot more opportunities to play behind Pascal.

Centers

Credit: Dylan Buell/Getty Images
  • Marc Gasol

Marc is in his 11th season in the league and is taking on a more facilitator role than a role where he will be more involved. Don’t worry, he is still going to get his during the season, but with the team that’s slowly getting younger by the year, it’s getting to the point not only him, but Serge and Kyle are turning into groomers for the future.

Coach

Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Nick Nurse took over last year after the organization got rid of Dwane Casey, who had a great run with the team but couldn’t get over the hump, and that hump ended up being LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. But with Nick, they seem to have found the right guy. In his first year, he brought them home an NBA championship and is expecting to do it again this upcoming season.

Projected Starting Lineup/Roster Cuts:

  • PG: Kyle Lowry
  • SG: Patrick McCaw
  • SF: OG Anunoby
  • PF: Pascal Siakam
  • C: Marc Gasol
  • Sixth Man: Fred VanVleet
  • Rest of the Bench: Serge Ibaka, Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Isaiah Taylor, Chris Boucher, Matt Thomas, Terence Davis, Dewan Hernandez
  • Two-Way Players: Oshae Brissett, Shamorie Ponds
  • Roster Cuts: Matt Morgan, Devin Robinson, Cameron Payne

Overall, this team can still make it back to the playoffs, but winning the championship is far from it.  With the East not being as powerful as the West, this team shouldn’t have a problem getting back to the playoffs, the only problem this team has is trying to figure out their new identity. With Kawhi Leonard gone, it gives them a chance to figure out their third go-to guy, with Kyle and Pascal being number one and two of course.

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