The Toronto Raptors are in a transition period after letting Kyle Lowry go in free agency, but they are still loaded with talent and have one of the best coaches in the NBA in Nick Nurse.
I believe that the circumstances of last season are driving the Raptors win total and Futures prices down.
We’ll start there. The Raps were relocated to Tampa Bay, Florida, for the entire season due to COVID-19 restrictions, and the season quickly went sideways with injuries and possible mental fatigue. The Raps finished 27-45 in the shortened season, their worst winning percentage since 2013.
This season, though, the Raps will be back in Toronto and welcome a spirited home crowd.
The team lost Lowry, the heart and soul, but they have emerging prospects such as OG Anunoby, who maintained his efficiency despite an uptick in volume.
Annunoby’s scoring average jumped more than four points on four more field goal attempts and shot 48% from the field. He also took three more three pointers, six per game, and hit 39% of them.
This is a promising development for the Raptors who need to fill some scoring for Lowry. However, the Indiana product is a menace on the defensive end, with a positive defensive box plus/minus and defensive win shares mark each year in the league.
Fred Van Vleet will shoulder a bigger load on offense, a devastating three-point shooter, but the team will also hope to bring Scottie Barnes along, the team’s No. 4 pick. Barnes and FVV can be a nice pairing with the undersized Van Vleet running the offense and Banres giving Nurse another long potentially devastating defender in Barnes.
Despite playing guard at Florida State, Barnes is 6’7” with a near 7’3” wingspan.
Of course, there is Pascal Siakam, who has some negative sentiment around him after two straight underwhelming seasons after emerging as the future of the franchise. Yes, his three-point efficiency fell, but Siakam still averaged 21 points per game and saw his assist rate jump up. There’s cause for optimism that last season was a necessary dip so he can shine in a bigger role in this one.
There’s also nice complimentary players on hand, namely Gary Trent Jr. who came in a mid-sesaon trade last season and Goran Dragic who is set to run the second unit. Chris Boucher emerged as a strong rim protector as well.
Last season was a bit of an outlier considering the circumstances I listed above. The Raptors have more than enough weapons on offense with FVV running the offense and Anunoby emerging as a strong third option on offense.
The Raptors have options on defense and should get a boost coming home for the first time. This team may have a low ceiling, but I see it more likely that they are battling for the play-in game at .500 rather than below this win total.
While there have been trade rumors around Siakam, and Dragic may not be long for Toronto, I do expect Toronto to be a frisky underdog bet throughout the season.
The Raptors are not getting any love at WynnBET to return to the postseason. They are +275 to make the playoffs and -350 to miss it.
Again, I think this is underselling an innovative coach with a malleable roster that has upside. There is a negative view towards the Raptors after a shaky year, but I can see a serious boost for the roster playing in front of the hometown crowd.
In a crowded middle class in the Eastern Conference, I can see the Raps jumping ahead of team’s like the Hornets, Knicks, and Wizards to name a few comparable teams. With an implied probability of about 27%, I see value on this prop.