I enjoy playing poker. Am I good at it? After 30 minutes, I’m still looking for the sucker. Anyways, a common scenario I often see play out is this. Player, which is sometimes me, pushes all the chips into the middle of the table and says, “All you can eat, baby!” Either the chip stack get bigger or said player takes the walk of shame to the ATM. That’s what I thought about the Raptors offseason. They are either making it to the Finals or taking that rebuilding walk of shame. Respect.
2017 record: 59-23
Vegas has the win total at 55.5. The team is stacked for sure and LeBron has moved to the Western Conference. With that said, there’s a new coach and superstar on the roster. How will everything mesh? There are a lot of questions for me, but the potential is there for this squad to be an absolute juggernaught. It will be interesting to see how Nick Nurse runs the ship, as he’s been an assistant with the Raptors his entire career. The final three years of Casey’s reign, the Raptors were basically top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating. Interestingly, Casey often had his teams playing at one of the slower paces in the league, but that changed last year, as the Raptors ended 14th in offensive pace after routinely being in the 20s.
Kyle Lowry, Delon Wright, and Fred VanVleet. Lowry is the guy in Toronto now. Or is he? It will be interesting to see how the pecking order establishes itself over the course of the season. Lowry was good friends with DeRozan and wasn’t thrilled when they shipped him away. From a purely statistical perspective, Lowry is an awesome fantasy asset. He can get buckets, rebounds very well for a guard, dishes out plenty of dimes, provides a trifecta of threeecolas, and gets his 211 on. The only blemishes are the lack of blocks and not-so-great field goal percentage. Other than that? Oh, there is an injury history and he’s 31 years old. In addition, he has one year and $33.3 million left on his contract. If things go south up North, a potential walk of shame could be in order. Wright was the #20 overall pick of the Raptors back in 2015. He’s 6′ 5″ and very athletic. Plays great D and has shown the propensity to get buckets. 36% from downtown is very nice. The potential PG of the future. VanVleet is solid as a rock. Shoots very well from the outside and provides plenty of steals. Able to run the offense and distribute the ball where it needs to go. Minutes will be an issue as he’s buried on the depth chart, but should get a little run each game.
Danny Green and CJ Miles. Green should get the majority of minutes at shooting guard and will provide steals, blocks, and threeecolas. Outside of that, not much. In addition, he’s very inconsistent. Miles is Green without the D stats with the same inconsistency.
Kawhi Leonard, OG Anunoby, and Norman Powell. When healthy and engaged, Kawhi is arguable a Top 5 player for fantasy. Is he and can he stay healthy? And is he and will be stay engaged? If so, fantasy owners got a bargain and the Raptors will probably maul the rest of the East. If not, walk of shame time. OG is a physical beast at 6′ 8″ and 232 pounds. Imagine lineups with both he and Leonard neutering opposing wings. So scary. He will contribute in steals, grab some boards, and shoot threeecolas at a high percentage. No dimes and the free throw shooting is poor though. Powell is athletic but kind of sucks. Look at me. Guy in moms basement saying an NBA player sucks. Ok, relatively speaking, he does suck because he doesn’t contribute for fantasy. Real life? He’s the 1 percent of the 1 percent.
Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam. I’m excited about this combo, but without Ibaka. I kid. Ibaka will score, grab some boards, and get some blocks. Not like back in the day when he literally erased everything, but enough to be relevant. Speaking of black holes, I kept track of the number of assists Ibaka had with the number of blocks for Blake Griffin last season. It was a tight race of futility I tell ya. Anyways, Ibaka could play plenty of 5, which could theoretically boost his rebound and block numbers? Possibly? I’ll believe it when I see it. Siakam is the guy I’m excited about. With Poeltl gone, he should suck up plenty of minutes. Siakam is super athletic and should provide excellent FG%, boards, D stats, and dish out some dimes. Even chip in some threeecolas, but not at a high percentage. The FT% is poor, though.
Jonas Valanciunas and Greg Monroe. JV can score and board with the best of them. And the FG and FT percentages are excellent for a big man. It’s all about minutes for him though. Last season, Casey often left him on the bench in favor of a small ball lineup. How will Nurse manage the situation? All you need to know about Monroe is that he played for three different teams last season (MIL, PHO, and BOS).