Predicting the Toronto Raptors 2019-20 Opening Night Roster
As we approach opening night, the Toronto Raptors 2019-2o roster is beginning to take form.
The defending NBA champions entered training with 20 players vying to crack the Raptors roster and while a number of those players will be relegated to the G League, a select few may find themselves on the waiver wire looking for new jobs. Such is the life of the NBA, but with that being said, the Raptors have seen a lot of good stuff to this point in preseason play.
Taking all things into consideration, the Raptors have already guaranteed 12 players with deals, leaving three spots up for grabs as well as two two-way spots with the Raptors 905.
So with just one final preseason game left against the Brooklyn Nets on October 18, we have decided to predict the opening night roster of the reigning champs!
PG – Kyle Lowry
- Although Lowry has yet to suit up in preseason action, the veteran point guard remains the heart and soul of the organization. With a new contract extension in hand and regained health following offseason surgery, there should be little concern about the All-Star guard heading into the year.
SG – Norman Powell
- After spending a big chunk of his offseason training with Kobe Bryant, early preseason takeaways suggest that Norman Powell is as confident as ever in his offensive game. Entering an important season in which he will be placed in a far more important role, Powell, to this point, has scored 36 points across two preseason appearances while shooting the ball at an efficient clip.
SF – OG Anunoby
- Expectations are incredibly high when it comes to third year forward OG Anunoby. Pascal Siakam experienced an incredible third campaign last year, and the Raptors hope Anunoby can follow in Siakam’s foot steps. In what was a down sophomore year, largely in part to injury, Anunoby has come into camp in peak physical shape and has everyone within the organization incredibly excited for what is to come.
PF – Pascal Siakam
- Siakam has improved in each year of his NBA career and as he is closing in on a massive extension with the organization, the Raptors believe that the 25-year old out Cameroon has yet to reach his ceiling. Working on improving his mid-range shot and ball-handling ability over the offseason, if everything clicks for Siakam, we can expect the Raptors forward to make a trip to Chicago this season for the NBA All-Star Game.
C – Marc Gasol
- The acquisition of proven veteran Marc Gasol at the trade deadline proved to push the Raptors over the edge last season. Coming off a FIBA World Cup victory with Spain, Gasol is entering the new campaign as confident as ever and the Raptors will look for his playmaking ability, poise, and top-tier defense to push their championship defense efforts.
The Key Reserves
C – Serge Ibaka
- When you have a near seven foot athletic freak coming off the bench, you’re in a pretty good spot. Serge Ibaka offensive game may be hit or miss depending on the night, but he remains one of the best shot-blockers in the entire NBA. High energy and versatile, Ibaka’s play off the bench will be huge for the Raptors this season.
PG – Fred VanVleet
- Steady-Freddy silenced a ton of doubters after stepping his game up tremendously in the second half of the 2019 postseason. To this point, it is unknown if he will be the organization’s next franchise point guard once the aging Kyle Lowry moves on, but after his incredible play in the Eastern Conference Finals and NBA Finals, it’s probably in everyone’s best interest to not doubt the Rockford, Illinois native.
SG – Matt Thomas
- An elite shooter overseas, Matt Thomas hasn’t done anything to change that perception in preseason and training camp. Moreover, he has even shown the ability to put the ball on the floor and play effectively in the pick-n-roll. It is uncertain as to where Thomas will fit in the team’s rotation, but his play style is comparable to former Raptor CJ Miles for being a knock-down perimeter shooter with obvious limitation on the defensive end of the floor.
SF – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
- Entering the preseason, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson appeared to be a lock for opening night’s rotation. While he still looks to garner some minutes out of the gate, his level of play has been largely discouraging through the Raptors’ first three preseason games. He is still an above average defender and after two disappointing offensive performances in Japan, Hollis-Jefferson showed some life against the Bulls.
C – Chris Boucher
- There has always been plenty of hype around Chris Boucher. At seven feet tall, Boucher was a monster at Oregon prior to tearing his ACL and continues to have incredible projectability and tools. Unfortunately, things have yet to come together for the Canadian big man who continues to be plagued by an inconsistent outside shot and lack of strength. That being said, Boucher has had one of the best preseasons on the team, showing his versatility, his impressive ability to run the floor and even scoring from long range.
- “I think he’s played well, he’s had a good camp, he ‘s certainly got what I would consider a fearless approach to playing in the NBA,” said Nick Nurse before the Raptors played the Bulls. “He thinks he can play and he shows that. He played well in both of the games over there, but in game one, there were a lot of mistakes defensively and we’ve gotta clean that stuff up. Again, we’ve gotta know that those guys can go out there and execute a defensive game plan and execute a personnel game plan defensively. And he’s gonna run, he’s gonna play hard, he’s gonna get some garbage buckets and that’s all kinda icing on the cake, really.”
SG – Terence Davis
- Although putting together a sloppy performance against the Chicago Bulls, the undrafted guard out of Ole Miss has been very impressive ever since his Summer League debut. He is an elite athlete with the ability to shoot from deep and after securing an unlikely guaranteed deal, the Raptors have high hopes for the 22-year old rookie
SF – Malcolm Miller
- Malcolm Miller’s play was largely a disappointing last year and his inability to consistently knock down the perimeter shoot on the NBA level even forced the question of potentially cutting ties with the veteran wing. Through three postseason games and a strong camp, Miller has worked his way out of the doghouse and with a strong string of performances, Miller may even get some rotation time if Stanley Johnson’s poor early play persists.
SG – Stanley Johnson
- Still a versatile defender, Stanley Johnson has been absolutely putrid on the offensive side of the ball. To the point where there doesn’t appear to be a fit for the young forward. He makes poor decisions with the basketball, is not a strong shooter, cannot effectively put the ball on the floor, and does not have the strength to consistently finish at the rim. It will be interesting to see where his fit on the team is, but to this point, Johnson has been one of the organization’s biggest disappointments
SG – Patrick McCaw
- Complimented on improving his jump shot early on, McCaw is one of those players any contending team would love to have. He can defend multiple positions, he’s always playing with high energy, doesn’t give up on any plays and ultimately, always plays within himself. You won’t see anything flashy from McCaw, but the three-time NBA champion consistently makes the winning plays that don’t always show up in the boxscore.
SG – Oshae Brissett
- Brissett has been incredibly impressive this preseason, to the point where the rookie out of Syracuse may have an outside shot at cracking the roster. He has shown a projectable shot and the ability to create his own offense, proving that his playing style in college can carry over to the NBA.
PG – Isaiah Taylor
- He hasn’t been spectacular, but he has been far better than Cameron Payne, who’s career in the league looks to be coming to an end. That being said, Taylor looks to be competing for the final spot on the roster and will likely be fighting for minutes against Matt Thomas, Stanley Johnson, and Terence Davis.
G League Transfers
PF – Sagabe Konate
C – Dewan Hernandez
SF – Devin Robinson
- The trio of young players have all shown some promise over the preseason, but simultaneously have all looked fairly raw. Konate is progressing well from injury and even got some playing time against Chicago, while Dewan Hernandez has made very noticeable strides since his first Summer League contest. Meanwhile, Robinson is an intriguing athlete who can shoot and a prospect the Raptors may want to get more looks from in the G League with the 905.
PG – Cameron Payne
- Undersized and unable to find his niche in the NBA, things are coming to an end for Payne who has been the weakest link on the Raptors preseason roster. He is unable too run an offence from the point guard spot, takes ill-advised shots, and his limitations on both end of the court may spell the end of his Raptors’ career.