The Toronto Raptors have truly experienced an offseason that will be one of the more memorable periods in team history. It all began with the decision to part ways with Nick Nurse, the former Coach of the Year in 2019-20, and the subsequent hiring of Darko Rajakovic to replace him. This was only the beginning of a series of major moves for the Raptors.
One of the most significant departures was Fred VanVleet, who left for the Houston Rockets on a jaw-dropping three-year, $128-million contract. As a replacement, the Raptors signed Dennis Schroder, the reigning FIBA MVP for the German national team, to fill the starting point guard spot.
The Raptors, coming off a challenging season with a record of 41 wins and 41 losses, had their season cut short by the Chicago Bulls in the play-in tournament. Nevertheless, they made the most of their 13th pick in the NBA Draft, selecting Gradey Dick, a sharpshooting talent from the University of Kansas. They also added Jalen McDaniels from Philly and veteran Garrett Temple from the Pelicans to help with the depth the team was lacking last season.
Here are three season-long prop bets available at bet365 relating to the Raptors to consider before the regular season tips off on Oct. 24:
Raptors over 36.5 regular season wins: +100
There’s an abundance of optimism surrounding the Raptors this season. Several key factors contribute to this positivity. Firstly, the re-signing of Jakob Poeltl is seen as a significant move. His presence provides a valuable anchor in the paint, especially defensively. It all signalled that the Raptors intend to remain competitive this season, and not enter a rebuilding phase.
The depth the Raptors have heading into this season is the best depth they have had in recent times after the bench-mod era. This includes the possibility of Gary Trent Jr. coming off the bench, Dick, Otto Porter Jr., Precious Achiuwa, Christian Koloko and others. Depth was always an issue for the Raptors and an underlying cause as to why they have not been performing as well. To specify, Pascal Siakam played the most minutes per game (37.4) in the entire league last season. VanVleet was right behind him in the top 5 and OG Anunoby placed in the top 20 as well.
The greater depth ensures that the Raptors won’t have to rely as heavily on their starters, reducing the risk of injury. Darko has expressed a desire to implement a nine- or 10-man rotation strategy to preserve his star players’ energy over the course of the season which will help for the playoffs.
Raptors over 36.5 regular season wins
Raptors to make playoffs: Yes, +160
With a healthy team and more depth, the Raptors have a good chance of making it to the postseason whether it’s clinching the fifth or sixth seed or sneaking in through the play-in tournament as the seventh or eighth seed. On paper, they are one of the best defensive teams in the East that will give teams trouble. The trio of Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, and Poeltl promises to be a defensive nightmare for opponents. With their length, versatility, and tenacity on the defensive end, the Raptors are likely to make life exceedingly difficult for even the most potent offences not to mention Schroder who is known for his quickness.
What is the competition looking like? Well, to assess the competition in the Eastern Conference, we must take a closer look at the teams vying for those coveted playoff spots. Notably, two of the play-in teams from the previous season, the Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls, have remained relatively stagnant during the offseason, making slight roster tweaks.
On the other hand, some teams have made significant moves that could potentially alter the Eastern Conference landscape. The Brooklyn Nets, who once ruled the East during the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving era, experienced a mixed bag of results last season, with 12 wins and 15 losses after the Durant trade went down. The Indiana Pacers, however, have made notable additions, welcoming NBA champion Bruce Brown and former lottery pick Obi Toppin. Their drafting of lottery pick Jarace Walker also adds depth and potential to their roster.
The Detroit Pistons, not to be overlooked, made a splash in the offseason, selecting Ausar Thompson fifth overall and acquiring former second-overall pick James Wiseman from the Golden State Warriors. The continued development of 2021 first-overall pick Cade Cunningham is also something to look out for.
The Washington Wizards have fortified their lineup with the acquisition of Jordan Poole and the selection of Bilal Coulibaly in the draft. Additionally, the Charlotte Hornets have taken steps to improve their squad with the drafting of Brandon Miller and they look forward to the return of Miles Bridges, although he’s currently dealing with legal issues.
The New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers have maintained their rosters with no significant alterations, but they certainly are obstacles to the Toronto Raptors’ playoff aspirations. In the Eastern Conference’s big three, the Milwaukee Bucks made a huge splash by securing Damian Lillard in a trade while parting ways with Jrue Holiday. Simultaneously, the Boston Celtics bolstered their squad by acquiring Kristaps Porzingis and Holiday at the expense of losing Marcus Smart and Robert Williams. The Philadelphia 76ers have also signed Patrick Beverley who is a great defensive presence.
While all these teams possess varying degrees of potential, it’s important to acknowledge that many of them are still in the developmental phase. Their youth could potentially limit their immediate impact and threat to the Raptors’ playoff ambitions while the other teams are hurdles the Raptors have to climb on the way to the playoffs.
Raptors to make the playoffs – Yes
Most Improved Player – Scottie Barnes: +1300
There’s an undeniable aura of optimism surrounding the Toronto Raptors’ young star Scottie Barnes. With the departure of VanVleet, the franchise’s former floor general, a significant void needs to be filled and many believe that Barnes is the man for the job.
Under the guidance of coach Darko, Barnes is expected to thrive. Scottie averaged around 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists playing behind Siakam and VanVleet. The increased touches and playmaking opportunities that come with VanVleet’s absence will only help with his growth.
Many believe Barnes is poised for a breakout season as he stands as a serious contender and the third favourite to clinch the Most Improved Player accolade, with only Cunningham (+1200) and Mikal Bridges (+700) having shorter odds.
In conclusion, the Toronto Raptors have embarked on a transformative offseason, setting the stage for a promising campaign after a short and disappointing season last year. With the departure of key figures, including Nurse and VanVleet, the Raptors have changed their approach. The infusion of new talent and additional depth puts them as a formidable threat in the Eastern Conference. The growth of this team and players, especially Barnes, should be encouraging.