The 2019 NBA World Champion Toronto Raptors will open the 2019-20 regular season for the NBA on Tuesday night with confidence despite all the changes that occurred during the summer. After absorbing the shock of NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard’s departure to L.A., just about everyone who follows basketball has been coming to terms with the fact that this team is still pretty good.
“We still good man. People are sleeping on us,” Serge Ibaka said after practice on Monday. “We got players… We know how to play together and we don’t give up. We good man.”
The preseason predictions at FiveThirtyEight have Toronto finishing third in the East with 46 wins and the opening NBA Power Rankings by John Schuhmann at NBA.com confirm Toronto as the third best team in the East and eighth overall.
The Raptors have talent and by current standards guys who are on the right side of 35-years old without injury issues aren’t done by any stretch of the imagination. Only Kyle Lowry (33) and Marc Gasol (34) are even close to 35 and they look good heading into this season. Serge Ibaka just turned 30 and the rest of the returning roster from the Championship run is young and a lot tougher for the experience.
Head coach Nick Nurse still has decisions to make about who fills out the back half of his rotation, but his top seven are solid and the preseason gave hints about who might grab those fill-in minutes coming off the bench. Undrafted guard Terence Davis looked like a guy worth developing for the future for example and former eighth overall pick Stanley Johnson should be highly motivated to show he can handle a reserve role on a good team, among others Nurse has to choose from.
There is confidence in abundance in the Raptors locker room and there should be. Even without Leonard, don’t sleep on these guys.