Regular Season Preview: Toronto Raptors Discussion

As we continue to highlight each team leading up to the Philadelphia 76ers regular season, we talk with Libaan Osman about the Toronto Raptors.

As we preview this incredibly exciting regular season for the Philadelphia 76ers, we move forward with our question and answer sessions with writers from other teams. To talk about the Toronto Raptors, we brought in Libaan Osman, who writes about the Toronto Raptors at Vavel USA. You can follow him on Twitter: @libaanstar1.

Libaan provided us with some incredible insight to the Raptors upcoming season, as well as some good takes on relating their frontcourt situation to the Sixers.

Here’s the question and answer session:

The Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors, as far as history goes, could not be more contrasting. The Sixers are deep in history in a sense that they have been around for a long time, and the Raptors are still fairly fresh, coming into the league in 1995. Still, the Raptors have a pretty rich history for a team that’s been around for just over two decades. The Raptors made it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the very first time this past season. In your estimation, how far away is a championship?

After making the eastern conference finals this past season, the Toronto Raptors should only be thinking about how they can continue to grow as an organization. The Raptors aren’t that far away from a championship but are still missing a hole at the power forward position. Don’t get me wrong, Patrick Patterson is great but you can’t feed him the ball and expect him to get you buckets on a regular basis. The Raptors are in need of a Paul Millsap or Blake Griffin type player to catapult them to a championship. With Masai Ujiri as general manager, anything can happen. So if the Raptors are hoisting the championship in a few years, I wouldn’t be surprised at all.

The Raptors have a pretty loaded frontcourt, very similar to the Sixers. Philly has Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, and Joel Embiid (and those are just the centers). The Raptors have Jonas Valanciunas, Jared Sullinger, Jakob Poeltl, and a bunch of lesser-known frontcourt players that look like they’re at a disadvantage as far as making the Raptors final roster goes. First off, who do you think gets cut from the Raptors frontcourt, and how do you see the Raptors approaching balancing their frontcourt for the regular season?

The Raptors front court situation is pretty tricky. Lots of depth which gives head coach Dwane Casey a lot of options he could roll with come opening night. The one front court player that is not expected to make the final cut is Yanick Moreira. He played for the Raptors in the Summer League but the most likely reason he’s on the team is to just fill in a roster spot for the Raptors training camp. One should also expect the power forward position to be up for grabs as either Patterson or Jared Sullinger could potentially start for the team. One thing I would like to see is Casey try out Carroll at the four position to go small in some scenarios. Other than that Casey should get creative with who he rolls in certain situations depending on the matchup.

Speaking of big men, I loved Bismack Biyombo this postseason. It was good to see him finally get minutes he deserved after being tucked away in Charlotte and then behind Jonas. Were you sad to see him go, or was it just one of the roster moves you saw coming?

Bismack Biyombo’s departuring was going to happen if you liked it or not. I’d be lying to say he won’t be missed, but I’m more excited to see rookie Jakob Poeltl attempt to replace Bismack’s impact. Poeltl was picked 9th overall by the Raptors in the 2016 NBA Draft and will be most likely counted on to come off the bench this upcoming season and provide a spark for the team. Poeltl can space the floor with his shooting and pass the ball so fittingly for a big man. I’d like to see him play alongside Jonas Valanciunas to see if these European big man can play off of one another.

Last question: The Raptors were fourth in overall attendance last season. The atmosphere, from what I could tell from my living room couch, seemed electric in the Air Canada Centre. The Sixers, on the other hand, were 28th in overall attendance. Obviously the fans can’t make the skills of the players better, but how much of a home court advantage do you think the Raptors actually have?

The Raptors have one of if not the best fan base in the NBA. It’s not just a city rooting for them like most teams, it’s a whole country united as one to support Canada’s team. Die hard fans that are willing to stand outside of the arena in the cold and through the rain to just get a glimpse of the team in action, there’s no way the players don’t feed off of the energy the crowd provides. The enthusiasm day in and day out only encourages the players to perform at their highest level.

Thanks again to Libaan Osman for taking the time to talk Raptors and Sixers with us! We really enjoyed the conversation, and are looking forward to doing more season previews of each team moving forward!

Be sure to follow Libaan Osman on Twitter (@libaanstar1).