What to Expect Ahead of Tonight’s Clash vs the Cavaliers.

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Article Written by Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6)


Basketball is back! The three words everyone loves to hear this time of year. The NBA season is indeed back and we’re not talking about pre-season anymore. This is the real deal. The full 82 game season as the Toronto Raptors face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight in Game 1 of 82 in Toronto at the new Scotiabank Arena.

Call it a rematch if you will, but without LeBron James, this Cavaliers team is what swept the Toronto Raptors in last season’s Conference Semi-Finals. Although they might not be able to accomplish that now without The King, they still have a lot of returning firepower from the team; Tristian Thompson, Kyle Korver, Kevin Love, and J.R Smith (doubtful to play due to injury.). Also, young rookie sensation and 8th overall pick in this year draft; Collin Sexton.

The Raptors should not take this Cavs team lightly. However, this new and improved Raptors’ team has something to prove to the world that this is their time and their year to win it all. 110 percent will be given each and every night. Based off of the few pre-season games played for Toronto, fans will be treated to a ton of minutes handed to Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard to carry the Raptors to victory; not only tonight, but all season long. Head Coach Nick Nurse paired them together almost every minute and every chance he had in the pre-season to help them grow and gain chemistry with each other. Also expect a ton of shooting beyond the arc. Adding the sharpshooting ability of Danny Green deepens the threat of more three pointers made alongside with fellow teammate C.J Miles.

That’s not all. You can’t leave out the two big men for the team - Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas. Ibaka has a bit of a chip on his shoulder after his poor performance all throughout last post-season. The veteran big has something to prove this season, who, not to mention can also shoot from beyond the arc. As for Valanciunas, could this be his break out year? We’ve seen Valanciunas have amazing games where the team feeds him the ball early along with great rebounding and defensive abilities. But we’ve never seen that consistently throughout the full 82 game season. Some could say former coach Dwane Casey was holding Valanciunas back by not giving him minutes in the 4th quarter of close games. But with Nick Nurse, this could certainly change.

There’s also OG Anunoby. Just when you thought his defensive skills couldn’t get any better, the team adds two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Kawhi Leonard, who is someone Anunoby can learn from, become better, and grow with this season. OG isn’t all about defense as he can show off a bit of flare from time to time by getting to the rim with authority and showing off his strength. We’re not sure how often we will see these two on the court at the same time this season, but if we do, you know the opposing team won’t score many points on them.

The Bench Mob. Almost no introduction needed, but nobody can forget quite possibly the best bench in the NBA last season. Fred Vanvleet, Delon Wright, Norman Powell, Pascal Siakam and now Greg Monroe. Raptors’ fans will have no shortage of seeing these men coming off the bench adding their flare and versatility to the game from every aspect. Vanvleet and Wright with their three-point shooting and great ball handling. Powell and Siakam with their hustle and slashing ability. Monroe with his grit and rebounding. This team sounds unstoppable.

Lastly, Chris Boucher, Malachi Richardson, Jordan Loyd, Lorenzo Brown - do these names come to mind? These are the third strings for the Raptors this season. You may not see a lot of them on the court, but if an injury ever occurs, you bet you’ll see one of these men step up to the plate when needed. Brown was a G-League MVP last season with the Raptors 905. Loyd, who had tryouts and had a great summer league with the Raptors,’ ultimately made the team. Boucher, possesses a great story behind him and how he got to where he is today is unbelievable. Something that started out as a 10-day contract in the NBA led to signing yearlong contracts. The local Canadian kid out of Montreal deserves it. Richardson is a great role player and always doing what is needed whenever his name is called.

Sounds pretty dominant right? The pressure is on for the Toronto Raptors. They know what is at stake. While nobody knows what the future holds for this team, the ceiling is as high as it can possibly be.

Championship or bust.

Let’s play some basketball, Toronto!


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4 Key Topics For The Upcoming Raptors Season

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


The beginning of the Raptors’ season is just a day away, with the club playing Cleveland on Wednesday in what should be a great start to the season. Every new season is exciting, but with everything that went down this off-season, this sets up to be a special one for the Raptors. There’s a ton to look forward to, and that’s why I’ve come up with 4 main things to be excited about for this Raptors’ season.

1. Kawhi Leonard is a Raptor

Until I see actually see him on the court on Wednesday, it still won’t set in that the Raptors have Kawhi Leonard. We’ve definitely had good players in Toronto before, but no one that has lived up to Leonard’s caliber. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with all season. Unless the Raptors are playing a team like Golden State or the Lakers, they’ll have the best player on the court with Kawhi and that’s something Raptors have never seen before. Although they’ve always had a deep roster and good role players, and they still have that, but now they also have the a Top-5 player in the league.

2. Breakout for Valanciunas?

The Dwane Casey era in Toronto was highlighted by many things; one being his reluctance to play Jonas Valanciunas at the end of games when it really mattered. He’d always start Valanciunas, but he never trusted him to close games. Now that Casey is gone, I’m interested to see if new head coach Nick Nurse will give Jonas more of a chance to prove himself in big spots. We know for sure that Kawhi and Lowry are the Raptors best two players, but I think that if he’s put in a position to succeed this year, Jonas Valanciunas can be the team’s 3rd best player.

3. Another Year for the Bench Mob

One of the biggest stories from last year’s team was the emergence of the Raptor’s bench unit, one that became the best in the league. They lost Jakob Poeltl this off-season, but the rest of the guys can definitely take a step forward this year. Specifically, I really think that Pascal Siakam can become a dynamic player, especially on the defensive end where he could be part of one of the league’s best defensive teams. Delon Wright will also look to a have a big year, since his contract is set to expire at the end of this season.

4. Relatively Weak East

LeBron James is no longer in the East, which means that there will finally be a new team in the Finals out of the conference this year. Boston is probably a bit better than the Raptors, but the latter are definitely close and it’s not that far-fetched to say that we could see the Raptors in the Finals this year. Who knows what will happen - but at least we know that we won’t see the Raptors get swept by LeBron again this year.


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SOT6 Podcast - Episode 79

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Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 79

"SEASON PREVIEW ROUND TABLE"

TORONTO RAPTORs talk

Weekly Toronto Raptors Talk

  • Here we go - the start of the 2018-19 Toronto Raptors regular season has finally arrived. This is, without a doubt, the most anticipated Raptors' season in franchise history. Expectations have never been higher as the team's future will be riding on the success or failure of the team's performance this season. What's more, the reputation and legacy of the team's President, Masai Ujiri, is very much on the line and will be put to the test with this team.

    The stakes have never ever been higher than they are right now.

  • To preview this season, host Adam Corsair is joined by three familiar guests for a special ROUND TABLE discussion! Demar Grant of Tip of the Tower, Jordan Kligman of Hashtag Basketball and host of the 416 Basketball Podcast, and Connor Chambers of Toronto Sports Views all discuss what fans have in store for the Toronto Raptors this upcoming season. Topics include leveling our expectations, what this season means for Masai Ujiri, the landscape of the Eastern Conference, our win total predictions, and much more!

    It's a special Raptors ROUND TABLE show that you will not want to miss!

Follow Jordan on Twitter: @416Basketball

Subscribe to the 416 Basketball Podcast on iTunes HERE

Visit Jordan's work HERE

Follow Connor on Twitter: @TO_SportsViews & @connorchambers

Visit Connor's work HERE

Follow Demar on Twitter: @DemarJGrant 

Visit Demar's work HERE

Music:

Drake Stafford - "Casets"

Auxl Studio - "Blue Bloods"


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SOT6 Podcast - Episode 78

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Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 78

"HAPPY THANKSGIVING"

TORONTO RAPTORS talk

Weekly Toronto Raptors Talk

  • With the season fast approaching and preseason well underway, we are finally getting a taste of what this team can look like and the potential it carries. We've finally seen Kawhi Leonard in a Raptors jersey and, although a bit rusty, has shown signs of his MVP-caliber self and should be able to make an immediate impact for the team.

  • To discuss this and other topics, host Adam Corsair is joined by Jordan Kligman of the 416 Basketball Podcast and HashTag Basketball.com. They discuss all the latest preseason action regarding the Raptors, as well as the landscape of the Eastern Conference.

It's a Raptors podcast that you won't want to miss!

Follow Jordan on Twitter: @416Basketball

Subscribe to the 416 Basketball Podcast on iTunes: HERE

Visit Jordan's work: HERE

Music:

Drake Stafford - "Casets"

Auxl Studio - "Blue Bloods"


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


The Good, the On the Fence, and the Ugly!

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Article Written by Rodrigo Albizurez (@Unclerodzy)


Hey Raptors fans, these are my takeaways of what I liked, kinda liked, and didn’t like from Friday’s Raptors game vs. Melbourne United. Enjoy!

The Good

Offensive Rebounding - The Raptors were an absolute beast on the offensive boards Friday at Scotiabank Arena (the name still doesn’t feel right eh?). They have been crashing the boards hard all preseason, which is an absolute positive because offensive rebounds are all about hustle, in my opinion. If they can continue to hit the offensive glass all season, they are going to create a lot of open looks from 3 or easy buckets around the hoop.

Stormin’ Norman’s Shot Selection -  Norman Powell was an absolute delight to watch. I know they played Melbourne United, but Norm played very efficiently. His shot selection was on point, strictly because he didn’t try to force his game; he let it come to him. He passed up an open shot for an emphatic dunk or dished it to a wide open teammate after bringing help defenders his way. An overall dynamic game for the kid from San Diego.

Ma Fuzzy’s Grooving Play- Serge Ibaka has been consistent all preseason and he was steady again Friday for the Raptors. Again, it’s just preseason, but it’s great to see him play consistent and not forcing his game. He was able to get some buckets down low in the paint and also knock down some jumpers from outside. Last year, he would go on hot streaks that would knock your socks off but then he would go on cold streaks that felt like a 6 month dry spell. If he’s able bring the same level of consistency that he brought Friday into the regular season, then the Raps are going to be a next level team.

On the Fence

Headband Pascal’s Aggressiveness – Alright, I knew I was going to get some hate on this selection, so hit me up on my mentions on Twitter if you disagree. Let me explain why Pascal is in my “On the Fence” section. P Skills was an absolute menace Friday for the Raptors. From hitting the offensive and defensive glass, hitting open jimmies from the 3 point arc, to slashing to the basket with reckless abandonment. Hell, I’m sure he even helped the water boy out! Yes, his game was on point, but am I absolutely sold on his controlled aggressive play? Not yet. Siakam has a tendency to play a little wild at times, much like he did in Utah. Looking for fouls instead of settling for the easy turnaround in the paint, or stopping to find an open shooter from the outside. I absolutely love that he can take the ball up the court because that opens up so many more plays/sets for Nick Nurse’s offence, but he needs to pick and choose when to be controlled or when to turn on the jets. These are senses that he will develop over the season, and there will be growing pains at first. But the reward will outweigh the pains once he fully kicks those senses into high gear.

Norman’s Performance – Again, I bring up Norman Powell because since last year he’s been part of a story of 2 heads.  On the one hand, his performance Friday was lights out and it brings tears to Raptors’ faithful eyes. Then on the other hand, for the next two games he can go MIA and bring another type of tears to Raptors’ faithful eyes. So am I absolutely sold on Norman’s performance? Yes, but am I sold that he can bring that type of smart shot selection and aggressive play into every game during the regular season? No. I believe that he can bring that type of play into every game he enters, but he needs to prove that early in the season or he will be engulfed into the Raptors bench yet again. It all comes down to getting early season minutes, and honestly just staying healthy through the entire year (knock on wood).

Delontino’s Wit on the court- Delon Wright is a lot of fun to watch when he’s moving and grooving on the court. Friday was a perfect example of how to play the point guard position in the NBA. He was pushing the ball up the court, which led to open jump shots for his companions, and it also led to open shots for young himself due to his teammates drawing help defenders and looking for him from the 3 point arc. Wright was able to knock down his shots because he didn’t hesitate. Last year was a different story because more often than not, he would pass up an open 3 and force his game in the paint. Delon still takes some tough layups in the paint which lead to turnovers or poorly missed lay ups. That’s why I’m on the fence with the young guard. But if he can consistently take open 3’s and limit the tough layups, he’ll get over the fence.

The Ugly

The Amount of Fouls Given – The Raptors are notorious for racking up fouls during games. It was a little different Friday because a lot of their fouls were early in the game and in garbage time which don’t really matter. For the most part, they played great defense during this game which resulted in less fouls called during the ideal times of the game. But if they can clean up their early fouls by setting the defensive tone and less reaching, they will be alright. The only reason I call it ugly is because it was ugly during the Utah game and it was ugly all of last year. It’s going to continue to be ugly until they full commit to playing lockdown defence without relying on last second swipes as the opposing player blows by their lazy run-outs.

Raptors Fans on Twitter- I was able to hit Twitter before the game and see who was starting for the Raptors. I noticed that my sister replied to a fan’s tweet by stating that Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, CJ miles and Fred Vanfleet weren’t going to play because they were resting. My initial reaction was, “Man that makes a lot of sense”. Other Raptors fans reactions were the complete opposite. They were upset that those guys needed rest and they weren’t going to suit up against a team from Australia.

First off, give your head a shake if you were one of those fans that reacted this way. Second of all, it’s a team from AUSTRALIA! Those guys weren’t needed out there and this game was meant for the guys who needed the reps to get ready for the regular season. If Nick Nurse could have rested his whole roster for this game, then I bet he would have done that. You’ll most likely see the starting unit play more minutes during the Nets preseason game on October 10th because that’ll be a good warmup before the regular season. Don’t worry Raptors fans, you’ll see the guys who rested a lot during the regular season (knock on wood). Don’t be that guy or girl that complains about a preseason game. Sit back and enjoy the young cats out their balling for a spot on the roster!

These are strictly my opinions and if you have any comments or inquires then hit the comment button or mention me on Twitter, @unclerodzy!


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 77

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Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 77

"MEDIA DAY REFLECTIONS"

TORONTO RAPTORs talk

Toronto Raptors Talk

  • This past Monday, the Toronto Raptors held their annual Media Day Event to kickstart the 2018-19 NBA Season. Pressers were held as head coach Nick Nurse, Kawhi Leonard/Masai Ujiri/Danny Green, and Kyle Lowry each held their own respective segments. There's a LOT to unpack as to what we saw on Media Day, as well as many questions that have been left on the minds' of Toronto Raptors fans.

  • Joining host Adam Corsair is Connor Chambers of Toronto Sports Views to unpack everything that went down on Media Day. They talk what we should expect from Nick Nurse in comparison to Dwane Casey, the first impressions from Kawhi and Danny Green being introduced to the media, and what we should make of Kyle Lowry and his demeanor. We also touch on the Jimmy Butler trade rumors and why the Raptors wouldn't be a fit.

It's a Raptors centered episode that you WON'T want to miss!

Follow Connor on Twitter: @TO_SportsViews & @connorchambers

Visit Connor's work: HERE

Music:

Drake Stafford - "Casets"

Auxl Studio - "Blue Bloods"


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


Regarding Jimmy Butler

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


      4-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler seems to be unhappy in Minnesota and is planning to meet with the team to discuss his future soon. It’s not completely known why Butler is upset, but it has something to do with his relationship with Karl-Anthony Towns, the centre on the Timberwolves. With these rumours swirling, many people are putting the idea out there that the Raptors should trade for Butler. In this article, I’ll explain why I don’t think that’s a good idea.

      Before even talking about the Raptors, let’s talk about Jimmy Butler himself. First of all, he’s got 2 years left on his contract, making $18 million this year, and $19 million next year. His free agency year is 2020, and he’ll most likely get to that point without an extension if he remains in Minnesota. As for on the court, Butler has averaged 20 points or more in the last 4 seasons, while grabbing at least 5 rebounds per game in that time as well. He also averaged a career high 2 steals per game last year.

      Now, there have been some vague rumours going on saying that the Raptors “could be” interested in Butler, and that a package going to Minnesota would start with Serge Ibaka in order to even out the money in the deal. These reports aren’t from reputable sources at all, so until I see a real report, I won’t believe that a deal is coming. Even if these “reports” aren’t true - which they probably aren’t - it raises an interesting question; should the Raptors go after another unhappy star and bring him to Toronto, like they did with Kawhi Leonard?

      Something to remember about the Kawhi trade is that the Raptors acquired a guy who’s a top-5 player in the league. Jimmy Butler is very good, don’t get me wrong, but he’s not in that tier. I’d put Butler in the top 15-top-20 category, but he’s not as good as Leonard is.

      One of the things that I really liked about the Kawhi trade is that the Raptors didn’t have to give up OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam; they had to trade away Jakob Poeltl. OG and Siakam both have higher ceilings than Poeltl. If the Raptors want Jimmy Butler, they’ll likely have to give up one of those two, Ibaka, and a 1st round pick, which would leave them without a 1st rounder for the next 2 seasons.

      The 1st rounder that the Raptors sent to San Antonio likely won’t affect them that much, because if they finish high in the standings - which they should - then the pick will be in the mid-to-high 20’s. But once you start trading picks multiple years down the line, you’re entering a danger zone because you have no idea what will be happening in a few years and you could end being like the Brooklyn Nets; a rebuilding team that has no 1st round picks.

      So, let’s say the Raptors do well this year and end up re-signing Kawhi, then you can trade your picks all you want because you have the assurance that it’ll be a low pick, and that you won’t be missing out on any top talents. But as long as you’re unsure about the future of the team, don’t mortgage anymore of your future. I say, you play this year out, and then if you can convince Kawhi to stay, go ahead and add to this team by trading away draft picks. But for now, hang onto the picks and young guys until you know for sure that Kawhi is staying.

      It would definitely be pretty cool to see the Raptors go out and get another star player. But unless they can do that for a small return, I don’t think it’s a good idea. I’m interested to see where this Jimmy Butler saga goes, because he is a very good player. But as long as Kawhi’s future is unknown, the Raptors should stay away from trading away more assets in my opinion.


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Where Does Stormin' Norman Fit?

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Article Written by Rodrigo Albizurez (@Unclerodzy)


Norman Powell came in like a wrecking ball during his rookie season with the Raptors and no one predicted that he would have that big of an impact. He brought a hurricane type force and mentality on every offensive or defensive possession, and that's why Raptors fans fell in love with him right away. Now we're on the eve of his fourth season with the Raptors and it looks like he has gotten lost in translation and experts don't know where he fits in with the Raptors' current roster and depth chart. For Norman, he has to feel like he's Waldo and waiting for someone to discover him off the bench so he can prove that he's the missing spark plug that the Raptors need to take the next step. At the end of the day, Norm definitely fits in with this Raptors roster but he can't afford to fit in when he was born to stand out.  

This year, I expect Norm to make a big splash; not strictly based on intuition, but also looking at his past numbers and behaviors. If you look at his rookie year, he didn’t do anything extraordinary. Norm averaged 5.6ppg, at a 42.4% clip which is nothing to rave about, but his 3 point shooting was pretty good for a rook at 40.4%. His shining moment happened during the 2016 playoffs when he played incredible defense against Paul George, which included a steal during a crucial moment in the game, topped off by an emphatic rim-rocking dunk. The entire arena was in shock at that moment. 

But what was more shocking to the Raptors' faithful was his disappearance in the following season. During the 2016-2017 season, Norm started in the Raptors' coaching staff's good book, but slowly found himself sinking into the unforgiving quicksand of the NBA they call "the bench." He never really dug himself out until he was given a helping hand from the Raptors' head coach, which led to him making a major impact during the first round of the 2017 playoffs. He came off the bench and provided the spark that the Raptors needed to close out the series against the Bucks. After that magical performance, experts thought that would guarantee him some heavy minutes during the entire 2017-2018 season, which didn't happen. Yet again he fell into the quicksand but this time he wasn't saved by anyone. He ended up shooting a career-worst 28.5% from the 3-point arc with minimal playing time.

When he was given an opportunity to make his case to be in the rotation, he never proved himself. He tended to force his game, which resulted in less and less playing time for the 3rd year guard. To be fair, he was never really given a fair shot for the entire season because his bench mates were playing so well together without him in the rotation. As a player, this would most likely discourage you and most would take it to heart and I'm sure he did at one point. Now, what makes Norm great is that he understands the grind and he knows that when he is given an opportunity now, he needs to consistently run with it. He needs to make it a marathon instead of a 100-meter sprint. If he stays true to that motto, he isn't going to have an issue this year. Norm is more than capable of being a lethal weapon in the NBA, he just needs to be taken out of the holster.  

As we draw closer to the 2018-2019 season, one of the biggest questions that the Raptors' coaching staff has yet to answer is - how does the team use Powell? This year, he can’t afford to fall out of the rotation. He has all the talent in the world, but he needs to capitalize on his opportunity when it arises. If he can take advantage of his opportunity, then he’s going to stay in the rotation. If he doesn’t, you know the story. The 2018 season is going to be interesting one and everyone should have their eyes on Powell.

I expect him to stand out this season.


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SOT6 Podcast - Episode 73

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Follow Host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 73

"A NOT SO RAPTORS CHRISTMAS"

TORONTO Raptors talk

Toronto Raptors Talk

  • Even after the trade involving Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan, the Raptors have been busy in their attempts to strengthen their squad. They successfully signed Greg Monroe to a 1-year, $2.2MM deal to provide some big-man depth to lessen the load off the shoulders of JV and Serge. 

  • However, despite the team's success last season, as well as acquiring an elite talent in Kawhi, for the 17th straight season the Raptors were denied a Christmas Day game from the NBA. This, of course, angered many fans, but the NBA seemed to have redeemed themselves as the team was granted 15 Nationally televised games during the regular season. It's safe to say, the tide is turning and the Raptors are starting to be taken seriously.

  • To explore these and other topics, host Adam Corsair shares the Main Event with Peter "HB" Kaye of Life In Repeat. Peter & Adam unpack the aforementioned topics, as well as touch on the future of Norman Powell, the impact of DeMar returning to Toronto on February 22, as well as touch on the remainder of the Raptors' newly released schedule. 

It's a Raptors focused podcast that you WON'T want to miss!

Follow Peter Kaye on Twitter: @lifeinrepeat
Visit Peter's work HERE

Music:
Drake Stafford - "Casets"
Jim Johnston - "Sexy Boy"


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


What Can Brown Do For You?

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Article Written by Rodrigo Albizurez (@Unclerodzy)


Every Raptors fan has probably taken a look at the team's depth chart a few times and thought to themselves - “man, I thought this team was deep last season, but this season it’s as deep as Lowry’s love for DeRozan!” As a Raptors fan, it feels like you’re a contestant on The Bachelorette and have no choice but to fall in love with this gem of a roster. Just like the Bachelorette, people might be questioning the depth of the contestants (point-guard position) and you wouldn't be wrong for questioning it. Depth is something that could really impact one of the 4 points guards' minutes in a serious way. Kyle Lowry, Fred Van Fleet, Delon Wright and Lorenzo Brown are your PG’s and the initial thought is Brown will barely play and have less of an impact. I would question that notion right away and say to you, this is what Brown can do for you!

Lorenzo comes into the 2018-2019 season as the 4th string PG and basketball experts are wondering if he’s ever going to get on the court and make a meaningful contribution to the Raptors' endeavors. There’s a reason the Raptors signed the 6’5 point-guard from Roswell, New Mexico; they have a plan for him that requires him to be ready when called upon. Speculation is key in this situation but I strongly believe there is a lot in store for the dynamic guard for this upcoming season because he can absolutely hoop with the best of them. Brown will play a significant role, but with minimal minutes. Looking at the depth chart, there isn’t a lot of minutes to be given out for a role player like Brown, but he can still find a way to make an impact when given the opportunity.

Last year versus the Orlando Magic, the Raptors had nothing going for them until Lorenzo “the Menace “Brown came in and brought the defensive intensity which resembled a young Tony Green. He had some strong defensive stretches and was able to score a couple key buckets while finding open looks for other players. Every player was struggling that night, but he found a way to get players much needed confidence building buckets. He single-handedly brought the Raptors back and led them to that victory. Yes, at that point of the season, a win wasn’t that dire, but it shows that when you give a young and success-hungry player an opportunity, he’s going to take it and run with it. That night’s performance may not earn him a key spot in the rotation, but his G-League numbers speak volumes to how he can impact a team’s chance to win the game when he’s inserted. 

Brown's performance in the G-league during the 2017-2018 season alone, earned him a spot on an NBA roster. Like Shakira’s hips, his stats didn't lie. Brown ended the season with an 18.8  ppg, 5.2rb, 8.ast stat line and those numbers earned him the honor of becoming the G-League MVP. If you’re thinking “who cares about a G-League MVP honor? It’s the G-league and that doesn’t mean a thing!”, then give your head a shake. Studs like Danny Green, Clint Capela , and Rudy Gobert emerged from the G-League and have made a name for themselves in the NBA. Overall, most players in the G-League must battle for an opportunity just to crack an NBA roster and face an even bigger challenge to stay there. For Lorenzo to nab the MVP honor is outstanding and it’s an accolade that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The G-Leagues MVP shot a whopping 50.5% from within the 3-point arc and 33% from beyond the arc, which totaled to a stellar 46.8% overall shooting percentage. His 3- point shooting isn’t something to marvel over and he’s no Jesus Shuttlesworth, but who really is? The Raptors coaching staff see a player that isn’t afraid to launch the deep ball when given an open look and he’s not afraid to chuck it at an efficient rate.

Brown roughly attempts 4 three-pointers a game and makes approximately 1. Like I said, it’s nothing to drool over. But when he’s on the floor with the Raptors, he’s going to have a lot more open looks from beyond the arc. The Raptors were launching 3's like they were beads at Mardi Gras, but they weren't shooting them at a real efficient rate - only making 35.8% of their shots from beyond the arc.  Brown is around that mark, and if he continues to work on his craft he should be able to get that percentage up which will only help the Raptors in their run towards a title. The Raptors motto is shoot first, ask questions later. They, as a team, need to improve their long-range shooting. With the additions of Leonard and Green (prolific 3-point shooters) should free up some open looks for players like Brown. Brown has a high basketball IQ and he will use his assist trait to find an even better shot for the Raptors while on the floor. If you don't believe me, go watch some highlight tapes of his game and you'll see that he's smart and makes the right decisions. Such decisions got him this far and he’s about to turn more heads as the years go by.

All in all, Brown will have to fight for minutes day in and day out, but that should not discourage him. Instead, it should motivate the hell out of him. He’s on a legitimate Eastern Conference squad and he gets to learn the game from one of the best point guards in the East - Kyle Lowry - and play alongside arguably one of the top 3 best players in the league - Kawhi Leonard. There’s minimal downside ahead for the 6’5 PG's situation, and if he accepts his role and buys into what the Raptors have planned for him, you’re going to see him flourish with the opportunity. Brown is going to turn some heads this season; not only Raptors fans' heads, but the league is about to be put on notice. Brown is here to stay and ready to show you what he can do for you!


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Highlighting Keys Games for The Toronto Raptors' 2018-19 Season

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Article Written by Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6)


Upon the NBA releasing the full 82 game season schedule today, the most anticipated match-up that all of Toronto was waiting for was when the San Antonio Spurs would come to town with All-Star DeMar DeRozan, thereby making his return to Toronto. After playing his final game with the Raptors in Game 4 of the 2018 playoffs vs the Cleveland Cavaliers, DeRozan picked up a questionable Flagrant 2 foul late in the fourth quarter, leading to an ejection in a blowout elimination game with just two minutes remaining. Nobody knew that that game was going to be DeRozan’s final game in a Raptors uniform.

Today, Raptors fans have found out that DeMar DeRozan’s first game in Toronto in a San Antonio Spurs uniform will take place on February 22, 2019. After DeRozan’s nine-year career in the NBA and playing against every other team, this will be his first game against Toronto. DeRozan isn’t the only All-Star set to make a home-coming appearance against their former team(s) this upcoming season. It was also announced that newly acquired All-Star Kawhi Leonard will make his return to San Antonio on January 3, 2019 with the Raptors.

Outside of the DeRozan/Leonard fiasco, it was also announced that the Raptors will open up their season - not against the Boston Celtics - but the Cleveland Cavaliers at home on October 17, 2018. The Raptors will play their first 6 out of 8 games at home to start the season and will head out on an early 4 game Western road trip right after that from November 2nd-7th. Although Toronto opens up their season with a match-up vs the Cavaliers, there’s something missing. Ah, LeBron James. Toronto won’t have to wait long to get a first look at The King in his new threads, facing off vs the Lakers on Nov 4th. The Raptors will once again see King James and the Lakers, this time at home on March 14th 2019.

Another big circle on the calendar this season comes on Nov 14th. On this day, the return of former head coach and Coach of The Year Award winner, Dwane Casey, to Toronto as new and current head coach of the Detroit Pistons. November seems to be a big month for Toronto as another big match-up and must-see game comes near the end of the month, when the defending NBA champions in the Golden State Warriors come to town on Nov 29th.

The Raptors longest home stand comes in the new year of 2019 in February from the 11th to March 1st.  It may seem long, but it’s only a 6 game home-stand due to the All-Star break. Toronto will also have two-4 game Western road trips throughout the season - one in November and another in December from the 11th to the 16th. The Raptors will also have a game on New Year’s Day 2019 at home against the Utah Jazz.

The Raptors final home game of the 2018-19 season will be against the Miami Heat on April 7th at 12 p.m. and will finish off the season on the road - surprisingly - against the Minnesota Timberwolves at 8 p.m. on April 9th.

The NBA has also released all the games that will be televised nationally. For the second time in franchise history, the Raptors will have 15 games nationally televised throughout the season; the first time was back in the 2000-01 season. The most Toronto has ever had in a season was in 2001-02, with 17 nationally televised games.

Toronto will have eight games on ESPN and seven games on TNT. This is also without including the games on NBA TV. Many fans felt a lack of respect from the NBA for not giving Toronto a Christmas Day game, which was announced just over 48 hours ago. But this will have to do. Given that Toronto only getting five nationally televised games last season on both ESPN and TNT, tripling that this season is a great sign.

It won’t be too long before the Raptors are out on the court again. Upon the NBA releasing this schedule, it means there’s only two more months until fans get to enjoy basketball again. Raptors fans will get their first look at Toronto Raptors basketball on September 29th, in pre-season action as the team takes on the Trail Blazers in Vancouver. Although it’s only pre-season, we could see our first look at All-Star Kawhi Leonard sometime throughout, which includes six-games. It’s also our first look at new coach Nick Nurse and his experimentation with the possibility of lineups he could use throughout the season.

Stay tuned, Toronto. Raptors' basketball is just around the corner.


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Toronto Raptors Snubbed Christmas Day Game Once Again

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Article Written by Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6)

Earlier today, the NBA released the opening week games for the 2018-19 season, as well as five Christmas Day games and three MLK (Martin Luther King) Day games. Raptors fans were quick to point out that their beloved team was nowhere to be found on the list of teams set to play on December 25th this year. The list goes as follows:

  • Milwaukee Bucks vs New York Knicks
  • Oklahoma City Thunder vs Houston Rockets
  • Philadelphia 76ers vs Boston Celtics
  • Los Angeles Lakers vs Golden State Warriors
  • Portland Trail Blazers vs Utah Jazz

Although all five of these games won’t disappoint, many Raptors fans disagree with Milwaukee getting the spotlight to play on Christmas over the Raptors. After the latest acquisition of All-Star Kawhi Leonard in a blockbuster trade involving DeMar DeRozan, a lot of fans thought December 25th set up perfectly for Toronto vs San Antonio. Although the San Antonio Spurs are not the team they once were, it still would’ve been a great treat to Raptors and NBA fans to get a first look at the two All-Stars play against their former teams for the first time. Many also point out that the Knicks shouldn’t have a Christmas Day game with their not-so-great looking roster as it once looked in past years. However, it’s hard to compete with a great franchise from a business standpoint and also the aspect of playing at a historic arena in Madison Square Garden. So, the Knicks have that.

Although the Raptors didn’t get a Christmas Day game, they also did not get a game on January 21st 2019 (MLK day). The Raptors playing on Martin Luther King Day isn't unusual, as they have had multiple games on that day throughout the years. The recent Martin Luther King Day game was last season on January 15, 2018 - suffering a defeat from the 76ers.

Although Toronto missed out on Christmas and Martin Luther King Day games, they get an early jump into the season. It was announced that the Raptors will open their season against the Boston Celtics on October 19th at 8 p.m. on ESPN at home in the newly named Scotiabank Arena. As some of you may remember, last season on opening night the Boston Celtics lost their newly signed All-Star, Gordan Hayward, for the whole season due to a horrific leg injury. This year, however, the Celtics plan to have Hayward back and in the lineup, so people can see what this Celtics squad with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving can really do. After that game against the Celtics, the Raptors will quickly hop on a flight to Washington where they will play the Wizards in D.C. at 7 p.m. for a back-to-back the next evening. That game will be televised on NBA TV.

A few other games that stand out on opening week is the Thunder vs Warrior;. or as many may call it, Westbrook vs Durant. Other huge games include the new look Lakers with the debut of LeBron James in his new threads. His first regular season game in a Lakers uniform comes against the Trail Blazers on October 18th at 10:30 p.m. ET. Two days after that, LeBron will make his home coming debut in Los Angeles as the Lakers host the Rockets at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN, where I’m sure millions will tune in to watch the King on his new team.

Although the Raptors and their fans didn’t get that special Christmas game they’ve been asking for for years, they get two early tough and televised games just days into the season. With the full NBA schedule rumored to be released in the coming days, Raptors fans will quickly look for the match-up vs the Spurs and DeMar DeRozan. But for Christmas and Martin Luther King Day, there’s always next year.

Right, Toronto?


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SOT6 Podcast - Episode 72

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Follow Host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 72

"Spurs In The 6"

TORONTO Raptors talk

Toronto Raptors Talk

  • With the dust finally settled regarding the biggest trade in Raptors' history, it's important to view it with an open mind. More specifically, it's vital to gain a better understanding of who the Raptors have on their team in Kawhi Leonard, and what he brings to the table both on and off the court. In order to do so, it's best to discuss the matter with those that are die-hard Spurs fans and have experienced him on the team on almost a daily basis... and we've done just that.
  • Joining host Adam Corsair is a very special guest - Gareth Gibbins of Spurs in the 6. Like Adam, Gareth follows his favorite team from a completely different territory with pride and honor, as he's been a die-hard Spurs fan since the era of David Robinson. They unpack the Kawhi/DeMar trade in a different light, as Gareth lays out what Raptors fans have in store with Kawhi on the team, what Danny Green offers, and how the Spurs/Kawhi relationship fell apart.

It's a Raptors episode that you will NOT want to miss!

Follow Gareth on Twitter: @SpursInThe6
Visit Gareth's work HERE

Music:

Drake Stafford - "Casets"
Auxl Studio - "Blue Bloods"
 


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The Curious Case of Danny Green

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Article Written by Rodrigo Albizurez (@Unclerodzy)


Who is Danny green you may ask? No, it’s not Danny Devito from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – it’s actually the sharp shooting ranger who once resided in the Eest, but now has graciously taken his talent to the East coast to join the bad boys in the north: The Toronto Raptors. When I say graciously, I mean he was thrown into the real life ESPN trade machine springing him north of the border alongside Kawhi Leonard and Toronto’s 6ix god, Drake. Ever since that trade, nothing has been the same. DeMar DeRozan is gone and two pieces that never thought they would be traded to Canada's team are now two minutes away from a Tim Horton's at all times. All jokes aside, two great pieces were added to the Toronto Raptors' roster and Kawhi is the cake of the trade. But never forget about the icing, Danny Green, cause without icing, the cake isn’t the same.

To top it all off, Green isn’t only bringing his sharp shooting skillset to the city of Toronto, but also his great low-key personality that loves to give back to the community. Green was known for being great off the court in San Antonio and all across Texas. His unselfish traits always landed him in the local shelters giving back to the kids or teaching young hoopers to play basketball all across Texas. As an example of how great of a citizen he was, he would show up to the Elf Louise Christmas Project dressed as Santa clause and hand out presents to the youth of San Antonio. If you didn’t already love Danny Green, I bet you do now! Why is this important to the Toronto Raptors, you ask? You’re not only bringing in someone who is highly skilled, but also a player who has an unselfish nature off the court, translating in his effort and demeanour on the court. These traits can only help the Raptors, strictly because that’s the way they want to play - unselfish pendulum-like basketball which results in an open shot for shooters like Steddy Freddy, OG, and CJ “Sniper” Miles.

Green may already have his inner Canadian embedded in his DNA off the court, but when it comes to playing in between the lines, he makes it his personal mission to bring his opponent to lock-down island. The only way you’re getting off that island is by taking contested jumpers or pray that by some miracle Green didn’t bring his A-Game. As an offensive weapon, destined into Lock-down Island, you might as well put yourself in shackles and call it night, because the ranger is bringing the Calvary and some. You might escape every once in a while from Green’s defensive efforts, but like Michael Scofield, you’ll always end up where you belong - prison. Green is an NBA ALL DEFENSIVE FIRST TEAMER for a reason, ladies and gentleman. His ability to guard the perimeter will be crucial for the Raptors this season if they really want to take a step forward into being one of the elite teams in the NBA. Let’s get real for a second and realize that DeRozan was a liability on the defensive end which hurt the Raptors greatly in the playoffs. His inability to guard his man forced other players to helpm which left Cleveland’s shooters wide open in their sweet spots. With the DeRozan/Green swap in the starting lineup (I believe this will happen) you’re losing an offensive threat who was a prolific bucket getter and a 4xNBA All-Star, but the Raptors are also getting Kawhi “The Claw” Leonard back as well and he’s no offensive slouch either. So by replacing that certain threat with a defensive minded player who can shoot the 3 at a consistent clip becomes an ever bigger nuisance for opposing teams. Now they have to shift their focus on Leonard which opens up shots for guys like Green. With that being said, you know he can bring his defensive prowess Day N Night like Kid Cudi once said. But people keep sleeping on the Northern Rangers dynamic in your face modern shooting like they lived in the states.

When it comes to dynamic 3-point shooters, you think of Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, Kyle Korver, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and of course Jonas Valanciunas. All these guys (besides Jonas) are proven snipers from beyond 24 feet on the hardwood and their NBA resume speaks for themselves. Now when it comes to Green, your initial thought is that he’s coming over from a great organization and he was coached by Pop, so he has to be great player. You wouldn’t be wrong! Now, if you’re big into hoops, your second thought would be, he’s a silky shooter that proved himself during the 2013 NBA Finals by knocking down 27 3-pointers during that series! Not only is that an NBA record, but he broke the record in game 5 of the NBA Finals. If that’s not sick, wicked, and nasty, I’m not sure what is to be honest. Throughout his illustrious 9 year career, he’s always been able to knock down shots when it matters. With that said, he’s also been able to keep his career 3 point shooting percentage at an efficient 39.5% rate. He’s also a walking bucket getter, and that’s exactly what the Raptors need. I wouldn’t tell you that you needed guy who can strut out of a walk-in freezer and still be able to knock down bucket. I would ask you, do you need that Raptors fans? Obviously every Raptors fan is going to say yes, and Danny Green can be that guy for the Raptors faithful. Not only is he a knockdown shooter, but his basketball IQ is through the roof. By watching in-game highlights, you’re able to see how he gets all those open looks. Yes he was a part of a great system that would free shooters up, but you also need someone who understands the game and can adjust to certain situations. Some players don’t have that high basketball IQ, but if you watch Green move without the ball, you’ll understand how intelligent he really is. Green is able to find open spots from beyond the arc by reading what his teammate is doing with the ball and how the defense is adjusting. He also comes from a system that was not only shot friendly, but also made them shoot conscience as well. Players like Steph Curry and James Harden can get away with 30 foot jumpers, but players like Green understand when and where to knock down shots while also being fearless of the big moment when it arrives.

Great times are ahead for the Raptors this upcoming year and Green will play a big part throughout this journey. The journey may be short lived if the Raptors can’t figure out a way to reach the NBA Finals and re-sign Kawhi Leonard to an extension, but that’s all in the future. The Raptors need to focus right now and figure out the best way to utilize the gruesome twosome that they have acquired in the trade. Danny Green is the sharp shooter and the defensive monster that the Raptors didn’t want, but in fact needed, to beef up their chances at taking a real shot at the NBA Finals.


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Getting to Know The New Toronto Raptors Coaching Staff

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Article Written by Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6)


Wednesday afternoon, the Toronto Raptors announced the four final spots of coaches added to their staff. The likes of Adrian Griffin, Sergio Scariolo (Scar-Eee-Oh-Low), Nate Bjorkgren (Bee-ork-gren) and Phil Handy will join the assistant coaching roles behind Patrick Mutombo, Jim Sann and Eric Khoury to round up Nick Nurse’s staff for the 2018-19 NBA season.

38-year old Patirck Mutombo is a former Congolese basketball player from the Democratic Republic of Congo who also played in the Italian league (Lega Basket Serie A). Mutombo also played at the University of Metro State in Denver back in 1999 until 2003 in the NCAA at the Division Two level, winning two titles in 2000 and 2002. In his final championship run in 2002, Mutombo scored 29 points in the final game and was named Most Valuable Player. Scoring 1,360 points in his career, Mutombo was inducted into the Metro State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011. That same year, Mutombo began his coaching career in the NBA joining the Denver Nuggets as a player development coordinator. In 2012 he was then promoted to an assistant coach.

Jim Sann has been in the NBA as part of numerous staffs for just over a decade now. He has found his way back to Toronto after being with the Raptors in 2003 as an assistant coach. He then left the year after in 2004, joining the Houston Rockets as an advance scout. After the 2005 season, Sann joined the New Jersey Nets (now known as the Brooklyn Nets) as an assistant coach and coaching associate until 2010. From 2010-12, Sann joined the Chicago Bulls as an assistant coach and video coordinator. Sann ultimately made his way back to Nets shortly after his two-year stint with the Bulls for a few more seasons, and has now landed his role back on the Raptors’ bench. Also joining Mutombo and Sann will be Eric Khoury. Khoury joins the Toronto Raptors as the final assistant coach and will also serve part in the analytics aspect of the job.

Adrian Griffin is a name who may sound familiar to some. The 44-year old retired small forward played nine seasons in the NBA, mostly with the Chicago Bulls. Shortly after his playing career had ended. Griffin joined the Milwaukee Bucks in 2008 as an assistant for the next two seasons. In 2010, Griffin became an assistant coach for Tom Thibodeau for the next five years in Chicago, ultimately ending in 2015. He then joinde the Orlando Magic for a season in 2016. Griffin helped USA Basketball win a gold medal in the 2014 FIBA World Cup as an assistant. After his short job with the Magic, Griffin was hired by Oklahoma City under head coach Billy Donavon for two seasons.

The 57-year old Sergio Scariolo is next to join the Raptors’ staff. Scariolo has a pretty decent résumé, winning Coach of the Year Awards and many championships overseas. Scariolo first won an Italian League championship in 1990 and winning Italian Coach of the Year in 1994. In the year 2000, Scariolo won the AEEB Spanish Coach of the Year (Spanish Basketball League). Scariolo is also a two-time Spanish Cup winner in 1999 and 2005, and also a two-time Spanish League Champion in 2000 and 2006. Scariolo also has a great Olympic record as a head coach of the Spanish national team, winning the gold at the EuroBasket 2009, 2011 and 2015 and a bronze medal in 2017. He also won the silver in the 2012 summer Olympic games and a bronze medal at the 2016 summer Olympic games.

Nate Bjorkgren is a 43-year old Norwegian-based basketball coach and former player out of The University of South Dakota and Buena Vista University. He started his basketball days back in 1994 to 1998, yet never made it far as a player. Ever since 1998, he has been coaching. Whether it be as a high school coach in Phoenix, Arizona, or coaching in the G-League, Bjorkgren has some really great experience as a coach. He is mainly known for his assistant coaching role with the Phoenix Suns in 2015 to 2017.

And lastly, there's Phil Handy. Handy is the final staff member to round out the coaching roles for Toronto. Handy was introduced to the Raptors' organization in a surprising fashion. The latest addition for Toronto - Danny Green - debuted his new podcast where he confirmed that Handy would be joining the Raptors’ coaching staff. Pretty neat right? Although it wasn't confirmed in an official statement at the time, Green knew it was certain that Handy was going to join the Raptors. Handy’s NBA resume began in 2011 where he was with the Lakers as a player development coach. He stayed with the Lakers for two seasons, where he then moved on to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013 and worked up to become the director of player development, as well as a full-on assistant coach in until the 2018 season.

Seven open spots are now seven secured spots. Toronto took their time securing up these coaching positions, acquiring a ton of coaching experience. The résumés are stacked and ready to go. The NBA season is still months away, but we’re not that far away from finding out the 2018-19 NBA schedule. There's a lot of buzz surrounding the Raptors on how they’ll do this season with the new All-Star addition, Kawhi Leonard, and the sharpshooting Danny Green. Along with this new and improved coaching staff, I’m sure they’re going to do just fine.


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Predicting the Raptors' Lineups

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


With the Raptors acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green last week, they now have an increased amount of flexibility with their lineups. Both Leonard and Green are versatile players, which will allow Nick Nurse to play around with his lineups a bit more than he could have with last year’s roster. There’s a number of ways in which the lineups could turn out to be, but in this article, I’ll give my take on what I think the floor should look like in certain situations.

The Starting 5

PG: Kyle Lowry

SG: Danny Green

SF: Kawhi Leonard

PF: OG Anunoby

C: Jonas Valanciunas

The way I see the starting 5 is that there are three locks to start, and that’s Lowry, Kawhi and Valanciunas. The spots that are up in the air are at shooting guard and power forward. At shooting guard, the Raptors have a number of options. They could go with Green, C.J. Miles, Delon Wright, or even Fred VanVleet. The reason I see Green staring there is that he’s a solid 3-point shooter (41.8% in his career), and he’s probably the best defender that the team has at the position. I also like the idea of keeping Wright, VanVleet and Miles together on the bench, where they gained a lot of chemistry together last year. As for power forward, the Raptors have 3 options there. They can go with OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, and Pascal Siakam. There’s a case to be made for each of these guys to start, but in my opinion, it makes the most sense to start OG at power forward. First of all, after such a good rookie season, putting OG in a lesser role as a bench player might stunt his growth as a player. He played well as starter last year, and we think he’ll be even better this year alongside Kawhi. Serge Ibaka started at power forward last season, but was very disappointing in that role. He was a defensive liability at times, and he also wasn’t able to contribute offensively enough as he should’ve. Putting Ibaka on the bench might not only motivate him to play better, but it could make him more of a threat, as he'd be playing against bench players instead of the starters. Lastly, I think it’s the right move to keep Siakam on the bench in order to keep him with the same unit that he thrived with last year.

The Bench

PG: Fred VanVleet

SG: Delon Wright

SF: C.J. Miles

PF: Pascal Siakam

C: Serge Ibaka

The Raptors’ bench unit was so successful last year, and you’d ideally like to keep it the exact same so that they can grow even more together. Unfortunately, they had to trade Jakob Poeltl, but other than that, they’ve got the same guys coming back. By trading Poeltl, the team doesn’t really have a backup centre anymore, although I’m sure they’ll find one. But for now, they’ll have to go with either Siakam or Ibaka at the 5. As for the rest of the bench lineup, I think they should keep it the same, with VanVleet, Wright and Miles. Like I said earlier, they could swap one of those guys into the starting 5 in place of Danny Green, and I’m sure they’ll do that at some point. But for now, I think it’s smart to leave them together so that they can continue to build chemistry.

Shooting Lineup

PG: Kyle Lowry

SG: Danny Green

SF: C.J. Miles

PF: Kawhi Leonard

C: Serge Ibaka

This lineup would be used when the Raptors are trailing by a lot, and need some 3-pointer to get back in the game. Lowry stays in at point guard, and then instead of choosing between Green and Miles, you put them both out there at the same time in order to get extra shooting. Kawhi obviously has to stay out there because he’s the team’s best player, but also he’s improved his 3-point shot a lot since coming into the league. And finally at centre, I went with Ibaka for the sole reason that he’s a better 3-point shooter than Valanciunas and Siakam; but in this lineup, the majority of the shots won’t be going to him so it doesn’t really matter.

The next two lineups I’ve come up with are ones to match up with the Raptors' two main competitors in the East - Boston and Philadelphia. These are the “crunch time lineups” that are used to close out games in the 4th quarter.

Crunch Time V.S. Philadelphia

PG: Kyle Lowry

SG: Danny Green

SF: Kawhi Leonard

PF: Serge Ibaka

C: Jonas Valanciunas

First of all, for this to make sense, I need to show what Philly’s lineup would probably look like. They’d have Ben Simmons at point guard, J.J. Redick at the 2, Robert Covington at the 3, and then Dario Saric and Joel Embiid at the 4 and the 5. Ben Simmons against Kyle Lowry is a mismatch, since Simmons is much bigger, so you might see Kawhi switch onto him in a situation like this, and Lowry covers either Redick or Covington. Danny Green is out there to match up with one of the 76ers’ 3-and-D guys. (Redick or Covington) Kawhi would be out there and probably be guarding Simmons, since you want your best defender on their best scorer. At power forward, I chose to go with Serge Ibaka over OG Anunoby. This is because Dario Saric is 6”10 and a bit bigger than OG Anunoby, while Ibaka matches up better with Saric in terms of their height. I wouldn’t normally want Ibaka out there to close games, but I feel like it’s better if the Raptors play him in this situation, because of the mismatch that it avoids. At centre, I went with Jonas Valanciunas. Now, this will be interesting, because Dwane Casey was notorious for not playing Valanciunas the end of games. But with Nick Nurse now coaching, I wonder whether that will change. I think you have to play him here though, because he’s the only guy the Raptors have that can match up with Joel Embiid. Any other guy that the Raptors put on Embiid will likely get exploited because of their size, so I think it’s a no-brainer to put Valanciunas out there.

Crunch Time V.S. Boston

PG: Kyle Lowry

SG: Danny Green

SF: Kawhi Leonard

PF: OG Anunoby

C: Pascal Siakam

Once again, for this this to make sense, you need to look at the Celtics’ lineup that they’ll likely use. Assuming everyone is healthy, they’ll have Kyrie Irving at point guard, Jaylen Brown at shooting guard, Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum at the 3 and the 4, and then Al Horford at centre. Putting Lowry at point guard is obvious, and then at shooting guard, I went with Danny Green. Miles could go there, but I feel like you’d rather have the defense of Green there in order to lock down Jaylen Brown. At small forward at power forward, I think Kawhi and OG Anunoby match up extremely well with Hayward and Tatum, considering they’re all around the 6”8 mark, and can defend well. In this situation, I see the Raptors putting Kawhi on whoever is scoring more that game. For example, if Tatum is having a great game, you switch Kawhi onto him, and vise-versa if Hayward is doing well. Finally, at centre, with Pascal Siakam there. Now, this is a bit of an odd situation, considering Siakam isn’t a true centre, but neither is Al Horford. Siakam may only be 6”9, but Horford is 6”10, and I think Siakam would match up well with Horford. I also feel like Siakam would be ok in terms of rebounding, because Horford doesn’t rebound as well as most centres.


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Highlights From Masai's Presser

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Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)


Raptors fans had two days to process the trade that will bring one of the best players in the world to Toronto - Kawhi Leonard - but subsequently send out one of the most loyal players to ever play for the city - DeMar DeRozan. The reaction has been polarizing, to say the least, and each of us were anxious to hear from the man that is largely responsible for getting the deal done. 

The opportunity came today, as Masai Ujiri returned from his trip to Africa and - quite literally - went straight to the Scotiabank Arena to conduct his press conference. I'll cover the important parts that ought to be addressed in the (unlikely) event that you missed it.

With Apologies to DeMar

Masai wasted no time from the jump of the conference as he immediately thanked DeMar DeRozan for everything that he had done for not only the Raptors, but for the city of Toronto. The apology seemed very sincere and heartfelt and looked as though he felt genuinely sorry for any miscommunication on his behalf.

First of all, I want to not only apologize to DeMar DeRozan for maybe a gap of miscommunication, but also to acknowledge him and what he's done here with the Raptors, for this city, for this country. There's no measure to what this kid has done and we appreciate him and I promise you we are going to celebrate him in the best possible way that we can as long as I'm here. It's one of the tough things in this business because we want to win. And I have to do everything in this organization to get us to a championship level. But, there's also the human side of this business and that's the part I really struggle with the most. And that's what's most difficult.

It's no secret that DeRozan felt betrayed by the move as reports went as far as stating that he was "extremely upset." He made his feelings known publicly as he produced various cryptic social media posts on his personal Instragram page - 

From DeRozan's perspective, he claims that he was told by members of Toronto's front office in Las Vegas during the NBA Summer League that he would not be traded and was part of their long term plans. Thus, one can understand his discontent, as this was completely contrary to what happened this past Wednesday.

However, as I've said recently on the latest SOT6 Podcast episode, as well as floated out on Twitter, the thought of Masai literally offering such a straight-forward assurance, thereby killing any potential deal that would improve the team seems unbelievably counter-intuitive to me. This isn't to say that I think DeMar is lying about what occurred, but rather it may very well have been a huge misunderstanding. It seems more likely to me that what was said was somewhere along the lines of "We have no current plans of trading you," or "We are not including you in current trade discussions," to which DeMar translated to a definitive "You will not be traded." 

There's a subtle difference between what I speculate to be what was said and what DeMar took it to mean, but the subtly is extremely important. Masai is a master with his words and, from what I have seen, has also been extremely careful with what he vocalizes. I don't see him saying something so definitive, so irreconcilable, and so robust that it would handcuff him from doing any future trades. To me, that's just not smart for a person that runs an organization to do.  

However, what I also take from the beginning of Masai's presser is how he doesn't ignore the human side of the equation. Yes, this is a business, and yes, it is his job to improve the Raptors without completely gutting the team. But there's also an element of emotion, camaraderie, and friendship that shouldn't be underscored. These are human beings that experience human emotions just like you and I, and Masai clearly recognizes that. So for me, it's an extremely class act for him to start off the conversation by thanking and apologizing to DeMar for anything that he may have done to make him feel betrayed. 

The Next Chapter

Masai hyped up the notion of bringing both Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green into the fold. He went so far as to say that "on paper" he feels that he has the team that will be able to compete in the East and, hopefully, for an NBA Championship; the ultimate goal. He described Kawhi as a "Top-5 Player" and is extremely excited to be able to have him as a key addition to the team.

He claimed that the opportunities to acquire a player like Kawhi are rare and he had to jump on it while he could. Sure, it means making sacrifices and making changes that a lot of the fanbase will feel uncomfortable with, but it's what needs to be done if the Raptors are looking to take the next step.

For me, it's simple. After two consecutive sweeps by the hands of Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, it's a tough sell for Masai to trot out the same exact team and have fans and ownership expect different results. Sure, Lebron has gone out West to Los Angeles, but there still stands a stacked Boston Celtics squad, an improving Philadelphia 76ers squad, an Indiana Pacers team that showed resilience to the very same Cleveland team that swept the Raptors, as well as an ever improving Milwaukee Bucks team that includes Giannis Antetokounmpo. It's unreasonable to think that the Raptors, as they were constructed, would be able to be better than they were last year and overcome some of these challenges. Thus, a change had to be made. In a vacuum, it's not even close - Kawhi is better than DeMar. To be able to have a player of his caliber on a team that is already close to being a true contender propels them to new heights. A change was necessary. Masai stressed this beautifully - 

The reality is, if we didn't do anything, it's hard to satisfy everybody in our positions. If we didn't do anything, I think everybody would be pounding on "you didn't do anything! It's the same team, so what's the difference? You're gonna play the regular season and you're gonna get beat again in the playoffs!" That would be the narrative going into the season.

Bingo.

I've been saying this since the Therapy episode of the podcast right after the playoffs ended. There was no way that it makes business sense for the front office to bring back the exact same team and try to convince fans that there would be different results. It just doesn't make sense. A change was absolutely necessary and although it came as a result of the greatest player to ever wear a Raptors uniform being traded, it was a necessary move in order to (greatly) improve the team. I get that the narrative is that Kawhi is a rental and we traded away the most loyal player who had a year more on his contract. Sure, but think of it this way. If the Raptors brought back the same team and got eliminated in the second round againchances are that they were going to blow it up anyway and DeMar would've been traded next year!

How people cannot understand this, I don't know.

Yeah, But Is He Playing? Is He Staying?

There was a collective exhale when Masai outright stated that he's had conversations with Kawhi and his representation. Although a physical has yet to be performed (it will in the next couple of days), Masai is nothing but comfortable with the aspect of being able to attain Kawhi long-term by attracting him to the city and its beauty. 

It's my job. I think there's a lot to sell here. Our team, our culture, our city, our ownership - we have everything here except a championship, in my humble opinion. I don't think we lack anything in this city. We have great fans, we have a great organization, we have a great following, and I think we have a great country. And there is something about this place that reaches out to the whole world and we're proud of that and we're going to continue to sell that. And hopefully it's an appeal, not only to him but to more NBA players.

Nailed it. 

Honestly, the whole idea that it's set in stone that Kawhi is heading to LA is generally overstated by talking heads. If I recall correctly, it was also set in stone this time last year that Paul George would be heading to LA to play for the Lakers, and there was no use trying to convince him otherwise. Fast forward a year later and Paul George has signed an extension to stay with the Thunder.

I don't want to be the person to say that Kawhi will definitely stay, but I will be the person to say that he's not definitely leaving (note: do not confuse that with "he's definitely not leaving." Two different things). In other words, I don't think that there's a 0% chance that he will want to stay in Toronto. There's this unfair growing narrative that Toronto is some wasteland of a destination and that a player's career is considered to be on the tail-end when it comes to getting traded there... until they actually play there. Once they familiarize themselves with the beauty, diversity, and passion that Toronto possess, it's hard to not fall in love with it. I have no doubt that Kawhi will recognize this, but that's not to say that he'll definitely stay. It's just to say that he won't definitely leave. 

Oh, and those definite, set-in-stones, no doubt about it claims that Kawhi has no desire to play in Canada for the Raptors?

Yeah, he didn't express a lack of interest to play in Canada to me. A lot of this is that everybody has their own opinion about everything. And I know first hand, I've dealt with this kind of a situation with my first job as a rookie, so I know first hand how these things work and how they don't work.
...I haven't gotten that sense from Kawhi Leonard or his people and I'm going to give him that chance when we meet him face-to-face.

I'll just leave it at that.

OK, Cool... But The Injury, Tho!

Simply put - we don't know yet. As mentioned above, Kawhi still hasn't undergone his physical, so there's a chance that something may come up to stall this (remember Isaiah Thomas to Cleveland?). However, Masai emphasized today that he understands the risks that he is taking by acquiring Kawhi despite the injury concerns.

All I'll say is that without all this medical drama that there is, we have no chance of talking to a player like that - zero. He would be in San Antonio and we wouldn't have a chance to get him. This is why we have a chance and this is the risk that we're taking. We've looked at some of the medicals when the deal was done and the rest will depend on the physical which will be done shortly.

So... yeah, it doesn't quite ease my concerns completely, but it's at least reassuring that they did take a look at his medicals when the trade was done. There really isn't any indication or reports of there being any red flags after viewing the medicals, so I think that it's best to take it at face-value and assume that he's pretty much good to go. I know that there's a lot of unease in that last sentence, but until I see that Kawhi has passed his physical, the aspect of him not being 100% will be lingering among the fanbase. 

Thus, is he healthy? Is he good-to-go? Probably.

Any More Moves?!?

Masai was noncommittal, as to be expected. Initially, he did sort of pass this one off to General Manager, Bobby Webster, and said that the latter was handling "all the trades," as Masai was in Africa for the past few days. However, he stressed that the organization is confident in this team and the combination of players that they have. But with the chatter earlier in the off-season in regards to nobody being untouchable and everyone being on the table, it certainly makes you want to pay special attention to the following.

If any other moves or deals come our way that make sense for our team to get better to win a championship, I think we have to look at that. There is a certain window and we have to acknowledge that.

Squint hard enough and you'll see that the whole "everyone is on the table" is reiterated here. Normally, when you acquire a player of the caliber of Kawhi Leonard, you do so thinking that the team you already have compliments him well enough to compete. To me, I think Masai thinks he is almost there, and I don't disagree. I believe him when he says that he’s “comfortable” with the current team, on paper. But how much does that comfort translate to confidence? With how teams are built these days (i.e. "super teams"), it's a real tall order to expect this Raptors squad - as constructed - to be able to beat the Warriors, should they make it that far. We can take it a notch below and still not be super confident that they'll be able to beat the Celtics in a theoretical Eastern Conference Finals 7 Game series. The talent matches up well, and Toronto surely has the defensive edge, but the Celtics should still be really good.

Thus, if Masai can work his magic and somehow be able to trade for one more superstar player (hey Jimmy Butler, I hear you hate it in Minnesota. Come join the real north squad!), then it's almost a lock. Again, if the Kawhi/DeMar trade has taught us anything it's that no player is off the table in trade discussions if it means that Toronto can compete for a championship. It's clear that Masai is tired of the status quo of making it jjjjuuuuussssttttt far enough to be considered "good." He wants the Raptors to be great. If it takes another big trade to enable that to be so, then by all means. 

But do I expect that? No. I expect minor tweaks and a Vince Carter deal for the league minimum for his swan song. 

But I've been wrong before...

PS - Take this to the bank.


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The "Against" Perspective: The DeMar/Kawhi Trade

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Article Written by Adam Garfield (@AdamThe6God)


The Toronto Raptors have traded DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected 2019 first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.

My initial thoughts on this is that the Raptors definitely lost this trade. 

Not only do they lose arguably their best player in franchise history, but they also lose a great young talent in Jakob Poeltl. DeMar has led the Raptors in scoring for the past five seasons, and he scored the most points in franchise history with 13,926.

Here are the records DeRozan holds with the Raptors:

  • Most games played
  • Most minutes played
  • Most field goals made
  • Most free throws made
  • Total points scored

Jakob Poeltl was coming into his own with Toronto, and was the only Raptor to play in all 82 games this season. Poeltl had carved out an important role with the bench, and he was a key component of "The Bench Mob." The Bench Mob led the league in net rating (points scored minus points allowed, per 100 possessions) with almost 28 points. Only two other five-man lineups are above 20+ points (Timberwolves and Rockets). Jakob averaged 18.6 minutes per game, and put up 6.9ppg and 4.8rpg. 

The Raptors are receiving Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green as part of this trade. Green put up 8.6ppg this year, but he is known more for his 3-and-D abilities. Danny's defense rating was 102.3 and his opponents FG% when guarded by him was 46.0. Green is not the same player he was back when the Spurs were in the finals. He has no longer been shooting the ball as well from deep, but he is still a serviceable player.

Kawhi Leonard is the biggest uncertainty from this trade and this off-season. Kawhi only played 9 games this year because of a "mystery injury." It was made clear that towards the end of the season that Leonard could return to the Spurs, but he chose to sit out. Now it has been made apparent that Kawhi is determined to go to the Lakers next free agency, and he was willing to sit out unless he was traded to Los Angels. There have already been reports that Kawhi has no desire to play in Toronto.

This is similar to the Paul George trade that went down last year. PG reportedly had no desire to play in Oklahoma City, and he ended up resigning with a long term deal. The Raptors are hoping that Kawhi does the same, but only time will tell.

Basically, it seems like the Raptors traded their best player in franchise history for a one year rental player who has no desire to be in Toronto. 

Last but not least, the Raptors have lost the respect of DeMar DeRozan. According to sources, DeMar met with Raptors officials during the Las Vegas Summer League and he was promised he would not be traded. DeRozan is reportedly extremely upset (via David Aldridge).

The front office of the Raptors ended their ties with DeMar DeRozan on a bad note, but there is no doubt that DeMar DeRozan has been the savior of the Toronto Raptors. Vince Carter put the team on the map, but DeMar took it to the next level and brought them success in the playoffs. If the organization has any respect for what he has done for the city of Toronto, #10 will be hanging in the rafters and there will be a DeMar DeRozan statue outside if the Air Canada Centre when it's all said and done.


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SOT6 Podcast - Episode 69

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Follow Host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 69

"KAWHI"

TORONTO RAPTORs talk

Toronto Raptors Show!

Sooooo this happened... Kawhi Leonard is now a Toronto Raptor and DeMar DeRozan is not. In what is being described as the biggest trade in Raptors' team history, Masai Ujiri undoubtably ditched his mostly conservative approach and is now really going for it, as he successfully traded away the most popular star in the team's history for now the biggest. It's a gamble, as Kawhi is a pure rental piece with only one year of service time remaining on his contract. But it's a risk worth taking.

Yes, this actually happened.

Host Adam Corsair is joined by three guests to break down this move in its entirety - Demar Grant of Tip of the Tower, Jordan Kligman of Hash Tag Basketball and the host of the Hash Tag Raptors Podcast, and Connor Chambers of Toronto Sports Views. Simply put, we covered it all. All of the concerns, excitements, apprehensions, and embraces. 

It's a Raptors centered show that you will now want to miss!

Follow Jordan on Twitter: @416Basketball

Subscribe to the Hashtag Raptors Podcast on iTunes HERE

Visit Jordan's work HERE
 

Follow Connor on Twitter: @TO_SportsViews & @connorchambers
Visit Connor's work: HERE
 

Follow Demar on Twitter: @DemarJGrant
Visit Demar's work: HERE

Music:

Drake Stafford - "Casets"
Auxl Studio - "Blue Bloods"


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


Toronto Raptors' Summer League Officially Comes to An End Against the Cleveland Cavaliers

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Article Written by Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6)


No, your eyes are not deceiving you. And no, LeBron James had nothing to do with this. Whatever the case may be, Toronto cannot break the sacred curse of being defeated by the Cavaliers in a playoff format.

After starting out the preliminary stage with 0 wins and 3 losses, this would’ve sent the Toronto Raptors packing early from this year’s Summer League and not have even seen their way into the Summer League playoffs. But this year is different, as all 30 NBA teams being able to compete for a shot at the Summer League title.

With a semi-finals spot on the line on Sunday, the Raptors were underdogs going into a tough match-up vs the Cleveland Cavaliers where the winner would face off against the number one seeded team in the tournament; the Los Angeles Lakers (Maybe then LeBron might have a thing or two to do with that. But that’s another issue). The Toronto Raptors came into yesterday’s game riding a two-game winning streak. During those outings, they claimed a victory over the Nuggets and a thrilling overtime win over Michigan State star Miles Bridges and the Charlotte Hornets.

Fans were shocked to see that Raptors’ rising star OG Anunoby did not play in the second-round matchup vs the Hornets and quarter-finals matchup vs the Cavaliers. Fans started to speculate a possible injury to the young star. That speculation was quickly shot down as it was listed that Anunoby would not be playing the remainder of games in the tournament for resting purposes and to not risk an injury.

In a thrilling second-round matchup that saw 13 lead changes and only the second overtime game of the tournament, it didn’t disappoint. Rawle Alkins carried the Raptors late in the stages of the fourth quarter with a clutch three which ultimately tied the game and forced overtime. Toronto ended up riding that momentum in OT, giving themselves the edge over the Hornets behind Alkins 25 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes of work.

“We didn’t have a great start to the tournament - starting out 0 and 3; but we’re here now and we don’t want to go home.” said Alkins. Although some may say it’s just Summer League, as a player it’s different. The more you win, the more you can show off to your coaches for a potential spot on the main roster. And that’s exactly what Alkins meant.

Just 24 hours later, the Raptors were on the court again to take on the Cavaliers. The first half was typical Summer League basketball action - nothing shy of what we have seen throughout the tournament. An average score at halftime with Toronto leading by two, 39-37. This is where the game turned around and the wheels feel off for Toronto. The Raptors ended up scoring only four points in the third quarter.

Four.

They were outscored by the Cavs 21-4 in the quarter, pretty much putting the game out of reach. Cleveland never looked back, winning the game 82-68 and will now play for a spot in the NBA Summer League finals vs the Lakers.

Toronto shot an abysmal 1-15 in the quarter. Some can call fatigue a factor, as Toronto played six games in ten nights in Vegas. But that’s no excuse, especially after a clutch performance from Alkins in the previous game. This meant it was time for someone else to step up, as Alkins did not perform up to par vs the Cavs. But no one did. The Raptors shot a woeful 31% from the field and just 20% from three shooting a combined 40 three-pointers on the night. Typically, this is a lot, but under new head coach Nick Nurse, that is the new normal and what Nurse described as “a part of the process."

Although it was a horrid performance by Toronto, there were a lot of guys who held their heads high after the total six games played, some of which deserved attention. The aforementioned Rawle Alkins for his stellar game against the Hornets, as well as Chris Boucher - the 25-year old Canadian who finished with 18 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks. Boucher came from the Golden State Warriors organization, where he was with the team on a two-year, two-way deal, but didn’t play at the NBA level. Instead, he played in the NBA G-League for a few years, to only be here in the Summer League with Toronto for a potential chance to play in his home country for the only basketball team in Canada.

If there are any few names that you should know and take away come this season for Toronto, pay close attention to the following, who played outstanding in this tournament:

  • Giddy Potts.
  • Rawle Alkins.
  • Chris Boucher.
  • Alfonzo McKinnie.
  • Malachi Richardson.

Even though you might be a bit familiar with the last two, for the remainder - anything can happen this season. Toronto could end up calling up a few of these names to the NBA this season as a result of injury or other circumstances. It’s all about earning your spot, and for these men, the opportunity came at the 2018 Summer League in Las Vegas. But for now, there will not be any more Raptors’ basketball until September. As luck would have it, it once again comes from the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers.


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