Few teams have as many questions to answer as the Toronto Raptors, who last played on 9/11, and will need to provide quick answers ahead of the season ahead. From draft to free agency and beyond, here’s a quick rundown of the biggest scenarios the Raptors face heading into the 2020-21 season.
What happens with the draft?
While the November 18 date makes this project later than ever, it’s still the first task to officially kick off the new season.
Toronto has her two picks this year, where she will select 29th and 59th overall, the result of winning the league’s second best record for a third consecutive year. Where this draft class may lack infallible superstar power, it is complete with a number of players capable of becoming very solid players.
With their two picks, the Raptors have a number of options.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, teams are limited to 10 in-person workouts with project perspectives. Several reports have confirmed that the team have used at least three of these practices, meeting with guards Malachi Flynn (San Diego state) and Devon Dotson (Kansas) as well as forward Tyler Bey (Colorado).
MOCK DRAFT 3.0: Who will be the Raps at 29?
Flynn and Bey are screened as mid-to-late first-round picks, although Bey’s action increases after an impressive draft performance. Flynn, a solid two-way point guard, could be an option to complete the team’s backcourt rotation whether or not Fred VanVleet chooses to stay in Toronto.
Dotson is screened as a late pick, which means he could be an option at No.59 or could very well be the next undrafted diamond the Raptors will make the most of.
With the pre-free agency draft, the team can’t base their selections on who starts, but they could factor in the potential uncertainty in the backcourt and frontcourt, meaning that some many big ones will be involved.
As the draft nears, keep an eye out for other Raptor-related prospect reports.
A busy free agency period awaits you
Reports have indicated that free agency could begin within 48 to 72 hours of the conclusion of the NBA Draft, meaning Toronto will need to have a game plan for an approach leading up to the free agency period.
The first priority is the team’s impending free agents, a roster that includes unrestricted free agents in the aforementioned VanVleet, Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a restricted free agent in Chris Boucher, and Stanley Johnson, which has a player option. that he will probably exercise.
From a priority point of view, VanVleet and Ibaka are the two free agents with the most crucial roles for the success of the team followed by Gasol, who has always shown great value as a starter despite his regression. during the past season and more specifically, the restart.
POTENTIAL FREE AGENT DESTINATIONS: VanVleet | Ibaka | Gasol | RHJ | Butcher
With top-tier free agents the price tag is steep, complicating matters as the Raptors will look to retain financial flexibility ahead of the free agency class of 2021. Toronto will need to overcome the hurdles that come with retaining key players. without making short-sighted decisions.
The free agency period isn’t limited to the Raptors’ impending free agents, either. Similar to the Draft Class, the Free Agent Class of 2020 may not be starred, but a number of players can come in and have an immediate impact starting in their respective roles.
Toronto could look to fill a need through the draft and one in free agency, meaning the targets could be players who can provide depth, whether in the backcourt or the frontcourt. Recently, the Raptors used free agency to sign players who were once top picks in the draft, but signed friendly deals after being struck off in a number of ways, such as Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson in the last offseason. .
As free agency has not been officially announced, there have been no reports indicating the Raptors’ interest in free agents, but Kris Dunn, Harry Giles and Alex Len each fit the list of early players. who can make great contributions in the right situation.
Front office contract extensions
In this time of looming uncertainty, Raptors fans can find solace in the fact that the decisions for the franchise are being made by the triumvirate of Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster and Nick Nurse.
Shortly after Toronto left the playoffs, Nurse was selected as a member of the franchise’s future as he signed a contract extension that made him one of the highest paid head coaches. of the league. Now, the franchise will look to do the same with Ujiri and Webster, both of whom are entering the final year of their contracts.
Around the time Nurse signed his contract extension, Kevin O’Connor said on The Ringer’s NBA Show podcast that expansions for Webster and Ujiri would be coming soon. Two months later, there is no indication that either of the executives has moved closer to a deal to keep them longer with the franchise, although there is no indication that they would be looking to move elsewhere.
The point is, these two are some of the best at their jobs and while there would surely be widespread interest in either league, the fact that neither of them has yet accepted an extension could very well be straightforward. correlated with the team’s need to quickly understand their approach to the draft, free agency and the season ahead.
Ultimately, when these concerns are resolved, there will still be plenty of time for an extension to be signed. And an extension for either could come at any point in the process.
Where will the team play?
As the NBA season returns, there are still a number of health and safety protocols and mandates that must be followed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Among them are the strict guidelines for international travel to Canada that could impact Toronto’s ability to play its home games at the Scotiabank Arena.
Over the summer, those same guidelines meant that the MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays would play their home games in Buffalo, New York and there have already been a number of reports linking the Raptors to a few different US cities.
Among the places the Raptors might feel at home for part – or all – of the upcoming season are Tampa, FL, Newark, NJ, Kansas City, MO and Nashville, TN, where the Raptors’ brass are said to have been seen. reviewing the facilities last week.
Not being able to play in Toronto would be a disadvantage as the team would not have access to their top tier facilities, nor would they have the chance to play at the Scotiabank Arena, with or without fans present. Since the Raptors would be looking to make the most of an unwanted situation, this developing situation will be one to watch out for.
Back to action
While there are many questions surrounding the coming season, there are of course some certainties.
Regardless of free agency decisions, we know that barring injury, Toronto’s opening night lineup will center on All-Stars Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam as well as OG Anunoby, who is set for another jump. in the next level of contribution. That core alone makes them a playoff team, but what remains to be determined is how high the cap the team will have.
Lowry is a year older, which adds another momentum to the rapid turnaround that would come with a start in late December. With Lowry, 33, off to a good start to start the 2019-20 season, Lowry, 34, faces an unheard-of turnaround after playing heavy minutes in the 2020 playoffs.
CARTES DE RAPPORT POSTSEASON 2020: Lowry | Siakam | Anunoby | Powell
After the Raptors won the 2019 title, more than four months – or 131 days – passed between the title shot and night in the ring. This year, Toronto could return to action just over 100 days after seeing its season end in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
As for Siakam, all eyes will be on how he bounces back from the disappointment of the playoffs, which he has promised to improve. Up to this point in his career, Siakam has added a new wrinkle to his game each season, which is an encouraging prospect given his quality last season and the room for improvement that remains.
It’s also not limited to the three above. Norman Powell could end up in a starting role depending on the offseason developments, while the development of players such as Oshae Brissett, Dewan Hernandez, Stanley Johnson, Patrick McCaw, Matt Thomas and Paul Watson takes on increased importance due to uncertainties surrounding how the rest of the list fills up.
MORE: Paul Watson is next
In places these players have shown they can contribute and we know the reputation of the Raptors development team. In the event that only two of the above players make a noticeable jump in the upcoming season, Toronto would have less depth issues and there are some very realistic time frames in which each of the above players makes big jumps.
The storylines and questions make this a particularly exciting season that is just around the corner.
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