Toronto Raptors: 2016 Preview, Offseason/Draft Recap, Outlook
Toronto Raptors 2016 NBA Season Preview
October 10, 2016
NBA Championship: 75/1 Over/under win total: 50.5 See the Latest Odds
The kings of the Atlantic division come into this season looking to defend their crown as the Toronto Raptors embark on a 2016-17 season that saw Canada’s team reach the conference finals for the first time in franchise history. Expectations will be at an all time high, time to see if they can be met or even surpassed for a 2nd straight year.
Here is your 2016 Toronto Raptors preview.
USA TODAY Sports
Key Additions: The only addition that the Raptors made with any previous NBA experience came in the form of utility forward Jared Sullinger, who signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Raptors after coming over from the division rival Boston Celtics. Toronto also signed a pair of undrafted rookies, Wichita State’s Fred VanVleet and Jarrod Uthoff of Iowa Hawkeyes fame. Both have seemed to make a positive impact on the team throughout the summer league and will be looking to crack a spot in the lineup for the Raptors.
Key Losses: The main subtraction for this year’s Raptors squad will definitely be big man Bismack Biyombo. Biyombo went from being a squad rotation player in garbage time to a forceful presence in the paint that was key to Toronto’s defensive success throughout the later part of the regular season and the playoffs including multiple 20 rebound performances. The Raptors decided Biyombo was a luxury they could not afford as Biyombo signed a four-year, $72 milion deal with the Magic, granted it was one that Biyombo definitely earned.
Breaking down the draft: Toronto managed to acquire a top-10 pick as part of the deal that sent Andrea Bargnani to the Knicks in the summer of 2013. With that 9th overall selection, the Raptors used it to select Utah product Jakob Poeltl. Poeltl has been regarded by many scouts as the best center prospect in the 2016 draft class, bringing a near double-double from his sophomore Utes season in 2015-16 where Poeltl averaged 17 points and 9 rebounds per game. The main criticism on Poeltl is his need to improve his low post game but with fellow bigs such as Jonas Valanciunas around, Poeltl will have a strong support system to help him navigate the learning curve.
Outlook: The big concern for the Raptors last season was whether or not the team would re-sign all-star DeMar DeRozan, which they managed to do in the offseason. Now we enter the same situation with point guard Kyle Lowry, who has said he will test the free agency waters but wants to stay in Toronto. I’m not sure that will have too much of an effect on the Raptors, as this team is still clearly the best in the Atlantic division and the only team that appears to be ready to try to hang with the Raps is Boston, and I’m not sure they have enough to take down the reigning division champs. I’m expecting a 4th consecutive division title for the Raps, the first since the Celtics did it from 2008-2012.
Projected record: 55-27