With all of the talk about the improvement of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls (and that talk is certainly justified), the Toronto Raptors seem to have been lost in the shuffle. They will return a team that turned what looked to be a lottery season around after the trade of forward Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings. They finished 48-34, won the Atlantic Division and finished third in the Eastern Conference.
Jabari Davis of Basketball Insiders believes teams are overlooking the Raptors and thinks guard DeMar DeRozan could be a breakout star.
How about the Toronto Raptors as a whole for the EC? It seems like some are almost disregarding the tremendous season they put together last year. Part of that is likely due to the fact that the conference simply wasn’t very good last year, but part of it is because the Raptors don’t quite get the coverage and promotion they should…like many of the smaller market teams. I expect a big year out of DeMar DeRozan as sort of a forgotten man at times. Put simply, a strong argument could be made for DeRozan being a top-5 small forward in this game coming off his first All Star appearance. I look forward to seeing whether he can take the next step and really establish himself as a developing star, and I’m also looking forward to seeing how Lowry responds to the big contract he certainly earned last season. It seems that some have categorized last year as more of a contract year productivity, but part of me expects Lowry to actually look even better this year as he’s finally found a good fit and system to work within.
DeRozan averaged 22.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 42.9% from the field, 30.5% from beyond the arc and 82.4% from the free throw line last season.
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