A massive adjustment has been done with the Toronto Raptors roster. Out with the old and in with the new, this season the Raptors have a new focus and that involves defense and ball movement. With the additions of DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph, Luis Scola and Bismack Biyombo, the Raptors are on the right track to accomplish their goals.
Ranking at a dreadful 23rd in defensive of efficiency, the Raptors will look to climb back up the rankings, where they were ranked ninth in the 2013-2014 NBA season.
The Raptors accumulated 49 wins last season. Could they amass that win total or will win lesser games this year?
David Bassily (@TRILLBASSILY): 45 wins
That's a tough one, but I'm going to have to go with 45 wins for Toronto, four games fewer than they won last season. For starters, both the Raptors and the Eastern Conference as a whole are both going to look very different this season.
The Raptors are definitely going to be more competitive with a proven small forward in the lineup in DeMarre Carroll, and the additions of Cory Joseph and Bismack Biyombo will certainly bolster the second units defense, but at the same time, we just don't know how the loss of Amir Johnson will affect the starting unit's ability to defend opposing bigs and it also isn't clear whether the second unit has enough fire power without sixth man Lou Williams and Greivis Vasquez, two proven bench scorers.
On top of that, there are a number of East teams that will look a lot better next season such as Miami, Indiana, Detroit, and New York. Toronto will have fewer easy games overall and this should translate to something along the lines of 45 wins and anywhere between third and sixth in the conference come April.
Dayton Stang (@D4ytonstangNBA): 51 wins
The Toronto Raptors are a much better team than they were last season. The team made more positive moves than negatives this offseason, and it should translate to more wins. Toronto has gotten better, but the Eastern Conference has too with teams like the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat getting key players back from injury as well as young, up-and-coming teams like the Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons on the verge of earning a playoff berth.
It is not going to be as easy for Toronto to get homecourt advantage in the first round, but they have the pieces to do so. This offseason, the Raptors focused on defense and efficiency. Toronto’s notable additions have been DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph, Luis Scola, and Bismack Biyombo.
The most notable losses for the Raptors have been Amir Johnson, Lou Williams, Greivis Vasquez, and Tyler Hansbrough. When looking at these transactions, it is easy to see that this club will be much stronger on the defensive end which was a major issue last season. Losing shot chuckers like Williams and Vasquez and adding smart offensive players like Carroll and Joseph should enhance Toronto’s efficiency on the offensive end as well.
The biggest concern for Toronto is competition, but they should be able to win a couple more games this year with a more well-rounded roster. Final Prediction: Toronto wins 51 games despite having a much tougher conference, good for a top three seeding in the East.
Oti Donkor (@otisdonks): 46 wins
My prediction for the 2016 Raptors is that they will finish the season with 46 wins and finish anywhere between the fourth and sixth seed. The thing with the Raptors this season is that they are hard to predict, although they should finish with a top-10 ranking defensively with the acquisitions they have made, I am not too sure where they will finish offensively.
I am not saying the Raptors are going to be in the bottom of the league offensively, but if Terrence Ross cannot provide the same spark as Lou Williams off the bench, their offensive rating will fall a few spots.
Another reason why I think the Raptors will finish with 46 wins is because every single team in the East has gotten better, with the Pacers getting back George and the Heat getting back Bosh and others, even the Knicks and Sixers have gotten better this season. This season, the main objective for the Raptors is for them to win a round or two in the playoffs, because with the team currently constructed, that should not be a problem whatsoever.
In conclusion, 46 wins and a first-round playoff victory is what I am predicting for the upcoming season.
Yash Tamhane (@YashTamhane): 45-47 wins
Looking at all the roster changes that happened this year, it is evident that Raptors have made a commitment to making defense a priority. By getting players like DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph and Bismack Biyombo, it is entirely possible that the Raptors could win more games than their franchise record 49 wins that they had last year. But that being said, looking at the offensive side of the ball, the Raptors are going to struggle, this is evident by watching them in pre-season trying to run the offense.
Moreover, looking at the bench scoring, it is definitely going to be lower than last year, and we saw how many games the bench won for us last year, so with that being said, I think the Raptors win anywhere from 45-47 games this year. We know defense wins championships but offense is key in the regular season.
Ralph Salame: 40 wins
After closely absorbing most of the Raptors pre-season games, there is a clear desperation at the power forward position. Patrick Patterson was nowhere close to meeting his expectations, averaging just 3.0 points and 2.1 rebounds while shooting a sickening 27.6 percent from the field in 19.3 minutes in six pre-season games. This isn't the same Patterson we saw last season, who was ranked sixth in three-point percentage among the league. Patterson naturally belongs off the bench, spacing the floor and knocking down threes and having the ability to guard faster forwards. I suggest the Raptors bring him off the bench as that is where he produces the best.
On the other hand, Luis Scola has been doing a solid job but won't just fit the bill. Anthony Bennett has also been great, but it'll take some time to develop him to his true potential. The Raptors need four star caliber power forward that will make them a force to be reckoned with that can actually contend for a title. I don't mean to be harsh, but I predict the Raptors to win around 40 games this season. The Raptors need to address their issue at power forward before it comes back to bite them.
Rami Al-muzaini (@RapsFeed): 52 wins
The preseason has come to an end and fans can start speculating about their teams 2015-16 season. The Toronto Raptors had a great off-season. They added an actual defensive specialist who can shoot threes, in DeMarre Carroll, technically what Terrence Ross was supposed to be. Their search for defense continued this off-season with the signings of Cory Joseph and Bismack Biyumbo. The three newest Raptors were very impressive, bringing a defensive intensity and encouraging their teammates to play harder on the defensive end. The Toronto Raptors finished first in the East for PA (points against), at 88.9.
Kyle Lowry dedicated his off-season to slimming down, getting in better shape, in hopes of getting faster and sustaining a longevity of health. He averaged 22 points in only 26 minutes during the preseason. He was blowing past opponents, scoring at will, and was playing at an entirely different level. I know it was just preseason, but he looked like pre-All-Star Lowry.
Although Lowry and the new additions were successful, their All-Star DeMar DeRozan, struggled immensely during the preseason. He was taking contested shots and insisted on taking long twos, instead of driving and getting to the line, which is what Raptors fans are accustomed to seeing. Then again, his bad play in preseason could be justified. Why would anyone want to get to the line in preseason? Why would a potential All-Star endure the bumps and bruises of getting to the line and risk injury? It just doesn't make sense. DeRozan should be able to return to his old self, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Now that the preseason has been summarized and we've discussed the good and bad, it's prediction time. I believe the Toronto Raptors will finish the season with a 52-30 record, good for fourth in the East. If Lowry can play anything like he did pre-All-Star break, this team can potentially be very scary, especially with a healthy DeMar DeRozan. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan only played 51 games together last season, going 34-17. With the addition of DeMarre Carroll and a revamped defensive lineup, this team should be able to improve from last season and set a new record for wins.
Libaan Osman (@libaanstar1): 45 wins
After getting swept in the playoffs to the Washington Wizards, the Raptors have a lot of doubters entering this upcoming season. The Raptors are expected to win the Atlantic division once again, but that means absolutely nothing now with the NBA making playoff seeding solely based on a team’s record.
With a new approach this season, coach Casey and the Raptors don't just want to set another franchise record in wins, they'd like to actually make some noise in the playoffs and win a round or two. Most teams would rather settle with less wins in the regular season and advance a round, than win 50-plus games and get swept in the first round. When the playoffs begin, your season record means absolutely nothing. This is the mindset the Raptors should have heading into this season. Just receiving a playoff berth and having a controllable pace heading into the playoffs is more important than the amount of wins the Raptors get in the regular season. Yeah, an Atlantic division champion looks nice on a team's résumé, but the playoffs is where a team makes their mark.
I expect the Raptors to land at around third-sixth in the Eastern Conference that is wide open, with them winning about 45 games. A 45-win team isn't something people worry about usually, but if the Raptors are playing their best basketball, which involves ball movement and tremendous defense, the Eastern Conference better be afraid because the men up north will make noise come playoff time.