Toronto Raptors: Clawing Their way Into Training Camp

The Toronto Raptors enter the 2019-2020 as the defending NBA Champions for the first time in franchise history. Even though they won it all against the Golden State Warriors in six games, it will feel like Toronto will have to be the ones that have to chase that crown once again rather than the ones being the hunted.

One of the reasons this is the case is because Kawhi Leonard decided to leave the Raptors in the offseason and sign a four-year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers to go back home. Toronto’s roster will still be talented enough to get back to the playoffs this season.

Leonard was acquired in a trade during the 2018 offseason and Danny Green also came along with him for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl. It was probably the best trade in NBA history. Masai Ujiri, who is currently the President of Basketball Operations for the Toronto Raptors, made that trade.

Kawhi Leonard was the main reason why the Toronto Raptors won it all last season. He won NBA Finals MVP for the first time since 2014 with the San Antonio Spurs.

Leonard also hit the biggest shot in Toronto’s history when he hit a buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Raptors also trailed 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks. Toronto won the next four games of that series.

Another bold move the Toronto Raptors made this last offseason was firing Dwane Casey in favor of Nick Nurse. The front office must have known something with Nurse because Kyle Lowry was sensational in the playoffs on both ends of the floor when Nurse coached him. Lowry disappeared at various moments of the playoffs when Casey was coaching him.

Pascal Siakam also blossomed last season and he is only going to get better. Siakam is 25 years old. O.G. Anuoby will also be back this season for them and he has the potential to be very good as well. Anunoby didn’t participate in the playoffs last season because of an injury.

The potential starting five for this team this season will be (C) Marc Gasol (PF) Pascal Siakam (SF) Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (SG) OG Anunoby (PG) Kyle Lowry.

Key players off the bench: (F) Chris Boucher, (F) Stanley Johnson, (F) Serge Ibaka, (G) Patrick McCaw, (F/G) Norman Powell, and (G) Fred VanVleet.

It will be interesting to see how this team develops over time as the season progresses. It would not be a surprise to see this team get off to a slow start. Toronto will most likely not be the favorites to win the Atlantic Division because the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers will most likely be better than them this season.

Toronto will most likely be a 4,5, or 6 seed in the east this season. A training camp date has not been announced yet. They will begin preseason play on Tuesday, October 8 against the Houston Rockets at Saitama Super Arena in Toyko, Japan. The Toronto Raptors will be the home team for this game.

Toronto will raise the banner when they take on the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, October 22. Kawhi Leonard returns to Toronto as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, December 11. They will also play each other in Los Angeles on Monday, November 11.

How do you feel about the NBA Champion Toronto Raptors in 2019? Leave a comment below.

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Follow Glenn on Twitter @glennkaplan13.

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