CSN is looking around the league as we prepare for the 2017-18 NBA season. Today, we break down the Toronto Raptors' outlook...
2016-17 record: 51-31, 3rd in East
Coach: Dwayne Casey
Key additions: SF C.J. Miles, SG K.J. McDaniels
Key losses: SF P.J. Tucker, PF Patrick Patterson, SF DeMarre Carroll
Projected lineup: PG Kyle Lowry, SG DeMar DeRozan, SF C.J. Miles, PF Serge Ibaka, C Jonas Valanciunas
1. How will Lowry bounce back?
The 2016-71 season was statistically the best of Lowry's career, as his 22.4 points per game, 46.4 percent shooting from the field and 41.2 percent from three were all personal highs. However, injuries to his right wrist and left ankle greatly affected how his season ended. He missed 21 regular season games due to the wrist and two playoff games because of the ankle.
Lowry was a free agent this summer, but decided to re-sign with the Raptors on a three-year, $90 million deal. He's 31 and now playing under his first big contract. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the pressure that comes with that.
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2. What impact will Ibaka make?
Ibaka joined the Raptors in a trade deadline deal last February. After acquiring Ibaka, Toronto went 19-8 the rest of the regular season, a 58-win pace over a full 82 games. That was the second-best record in the NBA during that span behind only the Warriors and much of it was played without Lowry running point. Now after Ibaka re-signed on a three-year, $64 million deal, the Raptors get to see him in the mix for a full season.
3. Are the Raptors being overlooked?
The Raptors brought back Lowry and Ibaka, and already have DeMar DeRozan who made All-NBA in 2016-17, so the chances seem good the Raptors will be right back near the top of the Eastern Conference this upcoming season. Despite missing Lowry for a quarter of the year, they won 51 games last season and finished third in the East. If he is healthy, there's no reason to think they can't get back to being the team that won 56 games the year before. With all the attention on the Cavs and Celtics as the two top teams in the East from last year, and with all the praise the Wizards and Bucks are getting for being young teams on the rise, don't forget about the Raptors who probably as much of a chance to take advantage of an increasingly thin conference as anyone.
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