2015-16 NBA Previews – Raptors
The Toronto Raptors set a team record for wins and captured an Atlantic Division title in the process. It was shaping up to be the best season in franchise history but injuries hampered them down the stretch and then they lost to the Wizards in the playoffs – an ugly sweep.
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Toronto Raptors Season Preview
Head Coach: Dwane Casey
2014 Record: 49-33
Raptors Odds to NBA Title: +5000
Raptors Odds to Win Conference: +2500
They are still the odds on favourite to win the division and should do so easily. The real measure of this team will come in the playoffs where they have not advanced the last two seasons.
When Toronto started strong it was in part because Kyle Lowry was playing as well as any point guard in the league. He made the All-Star team but eventually fatigue and injury caught up with him and the team was never the same.
This year he has come in lighter and looking more fit so hopefully he can better withstand the rigours because this team desperately needs him.
Similarly shooting guard Demar Derozan was not the same after his injury. He has been on a steady ascension over his whole career and last season averaged 20ppg.
He has to become more aggressive in crunch time but he can easily make another jump and be among the Top Ten scorers in the league.
The Raptors had good depth last season but they have improved it this year with the additions of Luis Scola up front, Corey Joseph in the backcourt and Demare Carroll who forces Terrence Ross into a reserve role. James Johnson is an x factor that can dominate any game, when he feels up to it to.
Their bench is strong.
The Raptors struggle against teams that can really go after it on the backboards. They made a couple of moves to improve their physicality upfront but until they prove to have that effect this team may continue to get pushed around.
Last year the Raptors went from one of the better defensive teams in the NBA to one of the worst. Coach Casey is a defense guy but with this roster I am not sure they can really be elite on that end. Carroll helps a lot but he is the only one in the rotation who is considered above average on defense.
He can guard four positions though and will make an impact.
Pelicans 2015 Betting Prediction:
All of the offseason rhetoric is about being a better defensive team and the roster machinations support that – bye bye Lou Williams. My hunch is that the oddsmakers might be a little slow to adapt so there could be some opportunities on some unders early as they establish that new identity.
Also, look for the Raptors to be strong on the road. They are a veteran team and will be playings lots of road games against weak competition in the division. That and their depth means they should cover often away from Air Canada Centre.
Raptors Key Personnel Losses:
- SG Lou Williams
- PG Greivis Vasquez
- PF Amir Johnson
All three veterans were important contributors last year. Williams was the best bench scorer in the league while Vasquez held down the point while Lowry was hurt. Johnson was only the heart and soul of the team. All will be missed.
Raptors Top Newcomers:
- SF Demare Carroll
- PF Bismack Byombo
- PG Corey Joseph
- PF Luis Scola
This group dramatically improves the defense of the club in key spots. Carroll is one of the more underrated players in the game.
- G Delon Wright
- G Normal Powell
If all goes well they won’t need the rookies that much, or at all. Wright has a nice all around game and Powell can shoot it.
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