The Toronto Raptors have one of the best run organizations in the NBA, which is evident by the fact that they have not only managed to remain a perennial playoff team, they have managed to do it while also rebuilding at the same time.
Over the past three seasons, only the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and San Antonio Spurs have won more regular season games than the Raptors. The Cavs and Warriors are also the only teams that have more playoff wins than the Raptors in that span.
After another successful season, the Raptors regular season wins might drop a little this year because they had to let some players go after the team resigned the core group of DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and Serge Ibaka.
Unlike the Warriors and Cavaliers, the Raptors are trying to avoid paying the luxury tax imposed on teams that go over their salary cap to resign their players, so the team decided to rebuild on the fly again with their main core intact.
Role players like DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph, P.J. Tucker, and Patrick Patterson, who have 27 years of combined NBA experience and also combined to play 6,093 minutes last season, were let go by the organization during the offseason to make way for younger, less expensive players, who will play the bulk of the minutes the other guys played last season.
With the Raptors opting to go young this year, their player development will be put to the test this season.
At this point, Norman Powell is the most impressive of their young players, and will likely get a lot of minutes or even start this season if he continues impressing the coaches. For some reason, Powell, who was expected to go higher in the 2015 NBA Draft, fell to the Raptors at #46. Looking back at the draft, he should have been taken in the top 10.
Powell reminds the Raptors coaches of DeRozan due to his work ethic and determination. The team wants to see how he responds when he is given a lot of playing time, which is something the rest of the league would like to see as well.
The Raptors can lock Powell up this season with a four-year $42 million deal. However don’t expect Powell to sign before the end of the season because he will be eligible to receive more from the Raptors next summer.
Delon Wright is another player the Raptors are expecting big things from this season. Wright was drafted in 2015, 26 picks before the team took Powell. The team had hoped to use him as their backup point guard, but the team signed Cory Joseph after he was released by the Spurs, which eventually left Wright buried on the depth chart.
Now that the Raptors have cut ties with Joseph, Wright finally has a chance to shine, and the Raptors are hoping he takes advantage of it and becomes the player they though he could be when they drafted him in 2015.
The 6 foot 5 point guard is just 25-years-old and plays good defense. His offense is still a work in progress, but the Raptors are confident he can become the best player of the young group.