It's summer time, August to be exact, so there's very little content to be passed around in basketball circles. Thankfully, the folks at ESPN are nice enough to keep things moving with their latest summer forecast standings in the East, which you can check out in full here.
The Raptors are projected in these standings to be the sixth best team in the East, and finish with a record of 44-38. For what it's worth, they're the only team in the Atlantic projected to finish with an above .500 record, with the Celtics coming in next at 40-42 in the eighth spot. The five teams ahead of Toronto? Cleveland, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami and Washington.
I'm of the belief that it's Cleveland, and then anything goes. You could make an argument for probably up to six teams that could be in that second spot, and it really depends on a myriad of factors. How will Chicago fare in their first season under rookie head coach Fred Hoiberg? The Hawks are slightly retooled, are they better for it? When healthy, the Heat have a formidable starting five, but will they be healthy, and even so, will it propel them to the second spot? Are the Wizards simply going to build on their playoff runs from the last two seasons?
As for Toronto, they are also a team of mystery, having gone through significant turnover with the roster with a renewed focus on the defensive end, which at least in theory should eventually lead to improved results. At least they're hoping the process of building a defensive identity will pay off come playoff time. But what about the regular season? The schedule in November certainly doesn't seem to offer an opportunity for the team to get off to the same quick start they did last season, and at the same time we'll be figuring out how all the new pieces fit.
But over the course of the 82 game season, we'll see how everything pans out for these new-look Raptors. Sixth place and a drop off in the win total doesn't feel entirely unrealistic, although you could argue that is probably on the low end of the optimism scale.
What does everyone think?