Hoops from the 6ix
What to expect from the Toronto Raptors in 2015-2016
By Bigoa Machar
It’s been a long summer for us Toronto Raptors fans. After an embarrassing 4-0 sweep at the hands of the Washington Wizards, many were calling for heads to roll after such an abysmal showing. Personally, after listening to Drake’s Marvin’s Room on repeat after the playoff series and an undisclosed number of alcoholic drinks, I am now ready to re-up for the 2015-2016 season. At the time of writing this, the Raptors are currently sitting pretty at 5 and 0 atop the eastern conference and one of only four teams still undefeated at this point in the league. However, if you’re not as crazy addicted to following this team like I am, no worries. I gotchu fam. Here’s everything you need to know for the Toronto Raptors 2015-2016 season.
Young Blood, New Money
With the new NBA salary cap, GM’s across the league are making it rain like a mid-2000’s rap music video. Recently, both Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross signed monster contracts to play a children’s playground game. Valanciunas received a hefty raise of $64million over the next four years. While some might say that this price tag is asinine for a center who’s still developing, there’s no question that the extra faith from management will help improve Lithuania’s finest export. Ross, who will enter this season coming off the bench for newly acquired Demarre Carroll, signed a deal worth a whopping $33 million over three years. Much like Valanciunas, the raise should help the 23-year-old swingman lay his worries solely on the court this season.
Forward paces with new faces
Speaking of Demarre Carroll, the hightly-touted small forward decided to take his talents to the north pole this season and sport those retro purple jerseys we all know and love. Coming over from the Atlanta Hawks, Carroll brings perimeter defence and size to the starting rotation, something that was dearly needed after being exposed by Paul Pierce two years in a row. In addition to Carroll, the Raptors also signed 2015 FIBA Americas MVP Luis Scola. The big man out of Argentina brings with him years of NBA experience and a consistent post game that will fit nicely into the starting lineup. Another welcome addition to the team is 6’9 rim protector Bismack Biyombo, who will provide energy and defense off the bench.
In addition to the aforementioned trio, the Raptors also brought in some hometown talent to fill in the roster. Backup point guard Cory Joseph, hailing from Toronto, brings with him NBA Championship experience from the San Antonio Spurs. Joseph is an upgrade defensively from departed guard Greivis Vasquez and should become a fan favourite in no time. Another Canuck on the roster is former first overall pick Anthony Bennett, another Toronto boy. Previously released by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the offseason, Bennett will look to get his career back on track in his friendly hometown city, where there is no pressure for him to perform on a night-in-night-out basis.
The Queen’s Guard(s)
Despite all these new changes, the focus of the team remains in the all-star backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Averaging close to 20.0PPG apiece last season, the bulk of the scoring will come from the backside of the court this season. After undergoing a Princess Diaries-esque transformation last season, Lowry lost a bunch of weight, ready to keep up with the agile point guards in the league. Statistically, both Lowry and DeRozan had up years last season, so one can only assume that the only way to go now is up.
Now you’re set to hop on the Raptors bandwagon for the 2015-2016 season! If you need more info as the season goes on, feel free to follow me on Twitter for some really angry rants about my favourite basketball team this season (@bigoamachar).
FEATURE PHOTO COURTESY OF RICHARD LAUTENS / TORONTO STAR