With Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green off to Tinsel Town, Masai Ujiri quickly filled out the roster with two defensive-minded wings (Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson), one of the best shooters outside the NBA (Matt Thomas), and a bet-on-yourself Fred VanVleet clone (Terence Davis).
The Toronto Raptors enter the off-season in uncharted territory, not only as defending NBA champs, but as a team with an unclear path towards returning to championship contention.
We discuss this and so much more on the latest episode of That’s A Rap. Feel free to comment below.
On This Week’s Episode:
The biggest question plaguing the post-Kawhi Raptors is whether or not the team runs it back with the current core, or start off-loading vets (i.e. Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka), with an eye towards 2020 and 2021 free agency.
Next season will also see a huge transition for the franchise, moving away from the Lowry-DeRozan-Valanciunas era and into the FVV-Siakam-OG core. Fred proved in the Conference Finals and NBA Finals that he’s capable of more minutes and a worthy heir to Lowry. Pascal Siakam will now be handed the reins as the number one scorer. OG Anunoby has the most to prove, but also a long runway to operate.
Now that the dust has settled with free agency, Masai has done well to fill out the roster. He could leave the roster as is, at the 14-player league minimum, or sign one more player. There are still some interesting candidates still available, like Shaun Livingston and Kyle Korver, and some hopeful prospects on the Summer League roster, like Dewan Hernandez and Corey Walden.
The Westbrook-CP3 trade occurred after we recorded the pod, but the commentary doesn’t change — for the first time in the post-Decision era, there are no super teams. That fact alone makes next season as highly anticipated as ever, since so many teams can make a case as title contenders. In the West, at least six teams have a legitimate claim as the team to beat. In the East, Milwaukee and Philadelphia appear to be a tier above the other contenders.
With so many solid teams to choose from, do you have a preference for whom the Raptors play on opening night — when the championship banner is unveiled?
Stick around for the end of the pod, as Dre tests our knowledge of Raptors in rap verses. (Spoiler alert: my lack of knowledge definitely showed my age)
2:55 - Parity vs Parody
6:10 - NBA Jam
7:50 - Run it back or Move the vets
15:00 - Trade proposal dejavu
16:40 - Changing of the core
24:55 - Final roster spot
33:57 - Best in the West
42:55 - Beast of the East
50:45 - Opening Night opponent
54:30 - Rapping about Raptors