Not a lot of months after winning their first NBA title, the Canadian franchise of the Toronto Raptors will have the huge challenge of defending their title without the star that led the troops to that success: Kawhi Leonard.
A challenge for the Toronto Raptors: Nick Nurse needs to invent a new formula
The commander that guided the team to the title last season, Nick Nurse, will have the Herculean task of defending that tile without their biggest star that made that accomplishment a lot more possible than it was expected during a certain timeframe of the season.
Leonard was at the end of his contract and decided to quickly board on a different challenge, this time in Los Angeles playing for the Clippers, where he will count with a young and promising roster, and also with the complement of another superstar in Paul George.
That way, Nurse – now the first head coach ever to have won the D-League and the NBA – will have the task of rebuilding a team that was formed around Leonard.
The team kept the core that won the title with Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam as excellent players of the team that were capable to support a superstar.
However, this time they won’t have a true star and it would be up to the Canadian coach to create a collective structure that marks that deficiency from the individual point of view.
Toronto Raptors: Transitional period?
Naturally, speaking is very easy, but turning this task into a reality is a lot more complicated.
Besides most of the players mentioned above already being veterans that shouldn’t be commonly utilized during the season, in order to save some energy for the play-offs, it seems like there is a lack of young talents appearing that can truly contribute towards the success of this team.
Fred VanVleet was a good surprise on the path to the title last season as an outside shooter and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson can also be helpful on that department.
— Raptors Nation (@RaptorsNationCP) October 3, 2019
However, there seems to be some lack of depth on the roster that might prevent stability throughout the season.
This way, it’s fair to pose the question: is the team from Toronto starting a new cycle?
In order for it to become more visible, we might see the departure of some veterans such as Lowry or Ibaka in the near future, something that might become a reality in case the regular season goes really poorly.
Imagining that the team goes through difficulties to even reach a play-off spot, the board might opt to start a renewal process, opening up space for new young talents in detriment of the high earning veterans right now.
Bookmakers aren’t very excited about the champions
Another statistic that can’t be hidden is their status of champions that the players will carry on court, something that tends to put some additional pressure on the team, as well as a motivational boost for the opposing teams to
Turning all of that into decimal odds, it isn’t weird to see the Toronto Raptors as sort of outsiders for the title, be it the conference one or the NBA title.
On 1xBet, the Raptors (10.00) appear only in 5th place of the list of contenders to the Eastern Conference title, behind emerging teams such as the Milwaukee Bucks (2.40), Philadelphia 76ers (3.20), Boston Celtics (8.00) or Brooklyn Nets (9.50).
Extending this analysis to the entire North American Basketball league, we see that the team from Toronto is on a modest 11th place amongst the set of favourites to win the NBA title for the bookmakers.
Honestly, I think so.
The team lost their great reference that made the entire team play around him, and that might be the main problem and challenge for Nick Nurse.
Nobody doubts the quality of elements like Lowry, Ibaka or Gasol, but in the most recent years, the team from Toronto always had its star – firstly with DeMar DeRozan and then with Kahwi Leonard, which means these players aren’t used to taking control of the game during an extended period and, as it is known, the ability to take the initiative and the confidence to take on big plays and shots is absolutely decisive to reach success.
The new season kicks off on October 22nd and from that moment onwards we might see if Toronto will be able to defend their title or not, at least in a competitive fashion. It won’t be easy, that’s for sure.