Yeah I’m worried. Last night should’ve been a win for your Toronto Maple Leafs but evidently the team didn’t agree. CBJ isn’t the most talented team by any stretch but you could see that they wanted that win. We’re 10 games into the season and Toronto’s biggest problem has been the fact that their core four, Matthews, Marner, Nylander and Rielly, have had zero interest in battling for the puck. Sure they’ve been capitalizing and scoring when the other team makes a mistake. But the rest of the time, particularly in their own zone, they’re letting the other team dictate the pace and physicality. Last night’s game was the perfect example where Marner , Matthews and Nylander had good nights on the box score, but were invisible in the neutral zone and their own end.
Here’s a clip of the O Dog on Over Drive going off on the team’s effort last night:
Now tonight they’re in Boston with back-up Michael Hutchinson in net. Unless Babs lights a fire under these guys you can see the loss coming from a mile away. That’s why I’ll be tuning into the Toronto Raptors season opener tonight.
Tonight the 2019 championship banner is being raised at Scotiabank Arena in tonight’s NBA season opener between the Raptors and the New Orleans Pelicans. I for one am fired up to tune in and watch one of my teams finally in a championship banner celebration. I may blog Leafs games but I’m equally as big of a Raptors fan as I am a hockey fan. How can you not be pumped up for tonight?
Here’s a few thoughts I have on the 2019-20 edition of the Toronto Raptors:
Kyle Lowry is still here
With a big booty that would have Mike Babcock flustered, Kyle Lowry is entering his 14th NBA season. The savvy vet is still good enough to carry offensive play, as evident by his performances in games Kawhi was load managing. At 33 years old Lowry is still a top 10 point guard in the league. Last season among guards (includes point and shooting guards) Kyle ranked 13th in Win Shares (6.6), 9th in Assist % (34.8), 12th in defensive rating (108), and 12th in Value Over Replacement (2.8). Last year he only had the 24th ranked usage rank among guards so expect his scoring to tick up closer to where it was during the DeRozan era.
The core of “the next” Raptors team is already on the roster
Fred Vanvleet is the eventual heir apparent to the starting point guard role. Patrick McCaw and Norm Powell are solid, young two-way wings. Before a sophomore season from hell, OG Anunoby’s rookie season garnered optimistic (if not wildly unrealistic) Kawhi Leonard comparisons.
But the centrepiece of this core is Pascal Siakam. The 2019 NBA’s Most Improved Player, Siakam looks like a guy who can be a 20-10 power forward with playmaking abilities and a bit of shooting touch. Last year he was the second scoring option on an NBA winning roster and is still only 25 years old. I can’t wait to see how good this guy can be.
The Raptors are the hardest team to predict for 2019-20
If everybody’s healthy and all breaks right for the Raps, I could see them being a top three seed in the Eastern Conference. But of any team with legitimate playoff aspirations, Toronto is probably the most likely to tear the roster down. They have Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka on expiring contracts and will likely flip them to a contender at the first sign of a lost season. Lowry has a year and a half left under contract and a championship team in need of a point guard might give up a nice haul in order to chase a ring.
The Action Network as the Raptors over-under win total set at 46.5. The last time the Raptors dipped below 47 wins was when they had 34 in 2012-13. Hammer that OVER folks. Let’s have ourselves a year!