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Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 11/23/15

There seemed to be little doubt that the Raptors would repeat as Atlantic Division champions. They won 49 games last season and finished nine games ahead of their closest competitor.

Despite a disappointing opening-round loss to the Wizards during the postseason, the Raptors headed into this season looking like an even stronger contender. They won the free agent sweepstakes for small forward DeMarre Carroll, adding not only outside shooting and creativity on offense but also a much-needed wing defender to the lineup. Toronto also brought in veteran power forward Luis Scola and backup point guard Cory Joseph, and both have contributed in the early going.

The backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan remains highly productive, yet the Raptors have not looked like a dominant team. Then came the news over the weekend that top post threat Jonas Valanciunas would miss approximately six weeks because of a fractured hand. Shot-blocking specialist Bismack Biyombo, another offseason pickup, seems likely to inherit most of Valanciunas’ minutes while he mends.

Meanwhile, two other Atlantic teams have stuck close to the Raptors in the standings. The Celtics don’t have a star but they have plenty of depth and coach Brad Stevens has expertly juggled his 10-man rotation. They’re getting steady offensive contributions from guards Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, while Jared Sullinger has emerged as their top frontcourt player despite the additions of veterans David Lee and Amir Johnson.

The Knicks have been an early surprise, thanks to the swift development of rookie power forward Kristaps Porzingis. New Yorkers are no longer booing the pick of Porzingis, as many did on draft night, but rather singing the praises of team president Phil Jackson for choosing him over Emmanuel Mudiay and Mario Hezonja. Porzingis leads the team in rebounds and blocked shots while providing a complementary scorer to Carmelo Anthony.

The Knicks theoretically figure to get even better once free agent signee Arron Afflalo, who missed some action with a hamstring injury, rounds to form.

Thus, our question of the day is: Will the favored Raptors live up to their billing and capture the division title or will the Celtics or even the Knicks overtake them?

Please take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the subject. We look forward to what you have to say.

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7 thoughts on “Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 11/23/15

  1. Xyrak

    Absolutely the Raps take it. Boston will be relatively close, but Raps take it by at least 3-4 games.

    Consider that the Raps have had 4th quarter leads in all of their games save the loss to Miami (by memory, may be off by a game), including at least 3 games where terrible calls influenced the outcome.

    The team defense and moving the ball on offense will only get better. The JV injury hurts, but the tough road sched to start the season is over, so if there was a time for a major injury, this is it.

    Personal Prediction: Demar finishes top 5 in scoring, possibly as high as 3rd.

    • Dana Gauruder

      I still see the Raptors taking it but the Celtics will give them a run. I doubt the Knicks can hang in there all season.

  2. Tyeo87

    Its been a surprising start to the season, to say the least! The C’s seem poised to make a strong playoff push. The Raptors are kind of stagnating in the 4rth Q on offense lately. The Knicks will fall off. If the Raptors can get away from the 4rth Q DeRozan ISO ball, and play the same way the do the first 3 Q’s, then I would have no doubt. I don’t think DeRozan is a chucker. he’s just not that type of player. I think you could say to him, that the 4rth Q hero ball is efficient. He would probably listen. I feel like this is Casey, still feeling out the offense. he admittedly spent all camp on the D. They will figure it out. JV being out may be a blessing in disguise. They can experiment with some funky small ball lineups. They don’t run any set plays for JV anyways (JV is one of the most elite scoring threats who gets no set plays run for him). All in all I think the Raptors will bring another Division title to WE THE NORTH, but the C’s are really gonna have something to say this season.

  3. Chuck Myron

    I would say the Raptors can do it, certainly. That 9-6 record is pretty good for a team that’s dealt with some injuries and is integrating a fair number of new players. The Celtics will make it interesting at times, and maybe even the Knicks, too, but the Raptors are by far the best team in the Atlantic Division.

  4. formerlyz

    Why are we no longer able to see the rest of our comments once it goes a certain length? That “Read More” button comes up, but nothing happens when you try to click on it

  5. The Raptors have had the toughest schedule in the NBA thus far. JV is hurt but if any coach can persevere, it’s Coach Casey. I mean, he seems to ignore JV’s existence in the offense anyway.
    I think they still win the division, but I’m hoping somehow, someway Casey gets canned in the process. The guy is terrible

    • Dana Gauruder

      Expectations have risen in Toronto over the past couple of years but I doubt Casey loses his job this season unless they flounder for a long period of time. Most likely, he’ll be judged by how they do in the postseason.

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