After consecutive first-round playoff exits, the Raptors broke through this spring, winning a pair of postseason series before becoming the only Eastern team to win any games against the eventual-champion Cavaliers. Toronto ultimately fell 4-2 to the Cavs, and the series didn’t really feel that close, but it was still an impressive step forward for a franchise that had never before been on the winning end of a seven-game series.
This offseason, the Raptors were relatively quiet, with the exception of the one massive deal they handed out to DeMar DeRozan. With no cap room to spare after completing that move, Toronto lost veteran free agents Bismack Biyombo, Luis Scola, and James Johnson, ostensibly replacing them with Jared Sullinger and a pair of first-round picks — Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam.
While the Raptors may not be any better on the court in the short term, the team’s roster is one of the youngest in the NBA, with Poeltl and Siakam joining an under-25 group that also includes Jonas Valanciunas, Cory Joseph, Norman Powell, Delon Wright, Lucas Nogueira, and Bruno Caboclo. There may not be a budding mega-star in that group, but Valanciunas and Joseph are already key contributors in Toronto, and Powell and others could join them in that group.
Still, for now, the Raptors don’t appear to have the firepower to match up with the Cavaliers, and the division-rival Celtics gained significant ground this offseason as well. That brings us to today’s discussion question: What do the Raptors have to do to take the next step?
Does the club need to package some of its assets in an effort to trade for another impact player to complement its All-Star backcourt of DeRozan and Kyle Lowry? Is it just a matter of being patient and waiting for young players to improve? Did the team make a mistake this summer by letting Biyombo go and/or giving DeRozan a huge contract? Should Valanciunas and Terrence Ross – both on very affordable deals compared to most of the contracts signed by free agents this summer – have been dangled as trade chips? And will Lowry, who can opt out in 2017, be around for the long term?
Take to the comments section below to share your opinions on the Raptors. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.