The Toronto Raptors will be quietly confident of challenging for a first Conference title in 2018/19 after a busy summer. The acquisition of Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs will give Toronto a proven superstar and he could be the difference maker for the Canadian side this season. This might just be the most significant year in Toronto’s history…
Dwane Casey’s departure for the Detroit Pistons was hardly ideal but Nick Nurse knows this franchise inside out and he is more than capable of making the step up from assistant coach to head coach. The Raptors organisation trust Nurse enough to offer him the chance to prove his worth and the arrival of Leonard will only help his chances of instant success.
The first port of call for Nurse is to ensure that Toronto maintain their grip on the Atlantic Division. With four divisional titles in the past five years, the Raptors have been dominant and fans will be expecting more of the same. Toronto, priced at 16/1 with Betway to win the NBA Championship, are coming off the back of their best ever season in terms of regular season wins; topping that 59-23 record is going to be tough.
Kawhi Leonard is a household name in the basketball world. If you watch the NBA, you know who Kawhi Leonard is. Toronto now have one of the few genuine world beaters in the sport at their disposal and the Raptors will benefit immediately from his impact and influence on the organisation.
After sitting out most of the 2017/18 campaign, Leonard should be relatively fresh ahead of the new season. With a .495% career field goal ratio, Leonard will bring consistency to the Raptors this year – and consistency at an elite level. With 87 playoff games under his belt, he has been there and done it all on the big stage too; he really is the ideal signing. For those interested, Leonard is 10/1 with 888sport to win the NBA Most Valuable Player award.
Toronto were sublime in the regular season last year but the Raptors crumbled against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs. That 4-0 defeat ensured that Toronto became the first number one seed to get swept before the Conference Finals since 1969 – not the kind of record you want to be breaking in the postseason.
Nurse will have his troops fired up and ready for another deep playoff push. Finishing as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference again would be nice but that will count for very little if Toronto fall short in the postseason. Only time will tell but the blueprint is there for a very successful Raptors season in 2018/19. The 5/2 with William Hill for Toronto to pip arch rivals Boston Celtics to the Atlantic Division crown should be snapped up…
How will Toronto line up without former star DeMar DeRozan? The four-time NBA All-Star left the Raptors as part of the deal to acquire Leonard; most Toronto fans believe that the organisation made the correct move. After spending the best part of a decade with Toronto, it will be strange seeing DeRozan starring elsewhere. At least he will be plying his trade in the Western Conference and not the East…
The Toronto Raptors have been one of the most consistent teams in the NBA in recent years but it has been all change in the offseason. A move at head coach and a trade for Kawhi Leonard may shift the dynamics a little at Scotiabank Arena – but Toronto are well equipped to cope with those changes. In an ever-changing sport, the Raptors are one of the best at adapting to new scenarios.
Predicting Toronto to go out and win the Eastern Conference would be foolish; but retaining the Atlantic Division title is an absolute must. From there, it is about building momentum for the postseason. Leonard’s past experience will help matters and the Raptors could go one better if everything goes to plan. Who knows, a first Conference title could be on the cards for Kawhi Leonard and co in 2018/19.