The Toronto Raptors deserve a lot of credit. They've put together an incredibly competitive squad and are one of the best well-coached teams in the league. People continue to sleep on them even though they won the NBA Championship two seasons ago.
Obviously, they don't have Kawhi Leonard anymore and that's going to take a toll on the team's ability to compete with the biggest powerhouses in the NBA. Nonetheless, they've proven that they can match up and give a lot of trouble to any team in the league.
Following the NBA Draft and the offseason, the Toronto Raptors are going to look slightly different to start the year in Tampa Bay but they will have the same defensive identity. That's why today, we're going to break down their projected starting lineup for the 2020-21 season.
Bench: Malachi Flynn, Paul Watson, Norman Powell, Terence Davis, Jalen Harris, Patrick McCaw, Matt Thomas, Stanley Johnson, DeAndre Bembry, Nate Sestina, Oshae Brissett, Alize Johnson, Yuta Watanabe, Aron Baynes, Chris Boucher, Alex Len
Point Guard: Kyle Lowry
It took him some time but Kyle Lowry has finally established himself as one of the best point guards in the league and is getting the credit he deserves. He's the undisputed leader of this team and one of the main reasons why they're able to play hard all 48 minutes.
Even though Kyle Lowry isn't getting any younger, he hasn't shown any signs of slowing down whatsoever. If anything, he continues to put his body on the line on every single possession and continues to be a huge threat from beyond the arc.
Shooting Guard: Fred VanVleet
Fred VanVleet got paid big time this summer and it's pretty safe to say that he's earned every single penny of his new deal. Even if he may seem overpaid now, he's a lock to become their starting point guard once Kyle Lowry leaves or retires.
VanVleet is the true definition of hard work. His grit and grind on both ends of the floor made him the best player on the team during some key stretches. He's a pesky, physical defender and has the ability to shoot lights out from all three levels.
Small Forward: OG Anunoby
People continue to sleep on OG Anunoby but he's one of the best defenders in the league already. He's got the length, skills, and athleticism to lock down the best scorers on earth and he proves it by often handling the opposition's toughest assignment.
Anunoby is an athletic freak that can jump off the roof. He brings a lot of energy on both ends of the court, either with his electrifying dunks or his ability to lead the fast-break with a steal. He's a massive threat in the passing lanes as well.
Power Forward: Pascal Siakam
Pascal Siakam's reputation took a big hit since the bubble. Everybody expected him to step up big time as he did during his championship season and lead the way for the Toronto Raptors. Instead, he kind of regressed and struggled a lot with his shot.
Nonetheless, Siakam is still the Toronto Raptors' franchise player and we expect him to bounce back as such next season. He's too skilled and quite a hard-worker, and to be fair, he wasn't the only player to struggle in those empty-gym games.
Center: Aron Baynes
The Toronto Raptors suffered a couple of tough losses in the offseason, as Marc Gasol joined the Los Angeles Lakers and Serge Ibaka left for the Los Angeles Clippers. Now, Aron Baynes has some big shoes to fill as their starting big man.
Baynes is one of the strongest and most physical players in the league. He'll contest every shot even if he gets posterized, and that kind of grit and energy will be quite welcome on Nick Nurse's system. Then again, we'd expect the Raptors to go small more often next season.