Before I talk about the Raptors, can I just get a word in about the NBA in general?
Gordon Hayward – fresh off his big move to the Celtics – is out for the season after just one game after a terrible injury, the Nets beat the Cavs led by Spencer Dinwiddie’s 22 points (who?). Speaking of the Cavs – Derrick Rose is already hurt and their rivals in Golden State were .500 up until their win (a very close one, if I may add) Wednesday night against the Raptors. Giannis is looking like this year’s MVP, LaVar Ball predicted a come back against the Wizards and The LA
Ballers Lakers of course came back and won.
I can go on…
Dwayne Wade is coming off the bench for what has to be the first time in his career, Ben Simmons recorded his first triple-double in just his fourth game, Markelle Fultz is hurt and struggling…
I’ll stop there.
Did I mention it’s only a week into the season? So much has happened already, and it looks like this season will be as entertaining as ever. Can the Celtics still challenge the Cavs for the top spot in the East without Hayward? Can Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid keep up their great play while also staying on the court for a full season? Will Golden State overcome this rocky start? Are the Clippers really a threat in the west like Charles Barkley thinks? There are a lot of questions looming after the first week of the season, and of course, only time will tell what happens.
Let’s get to the Raptors though. The Raps are off to a decent start. It would have been nice to go 1-1 against the Spurs and Warriors, but ultimately that did not happen. Regardless, through these first five games (3-2), I have been able to see all I need to see to make my Three Bold Predictions for the season.
Adam’s 3 Bold Predictions for the Raptors 2017-2018 season:
1. O.G. Anunoby Will be Starting by the end of the season:
The short-short wearing, soft spoken, cool name bearing, small forward out of Indiana has impressed me so far in the first week of the season. He’s obviously been impressing head coach Dwane Casey too, because he averaged just over 16 minutes per game in his first 4 games with the Raptors. Along with Kyle Kuzma (who the Raps saw on Friday night against the Lakers), O.G. could be the steal of this years draft class. Teams were concerned about his knee injury and that’s essentially how he fell to Toronto. I’m happy he did, and I think the Raptors are too. He’s got great length and can go down to power forward in some small ball situations. He’s really strong for a rookie, he’s athletic and can shoot the 3-ball. I guess the saying third time’s the charm really is true, because it took Masai Ujiri Terrence Ross and DeMarre Carroll to finally get the Raptors small forward of the future.
In his first four career NBA games, O.G. (I’ll never get tired of saying/typing that name) has averaged 6 points, 1.8 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game, while scoring 9 in his first game against the Bulls. In a small sample size, he’s showed me all I need to see to say that he will continue to improve, and he WILL be starting for the Raptors by season’s end.
2. Valanciunas will be traded; Poeltl will replace in starting lineup:
After five years of mediocre play at the centre position for Toronto, J.V’s time as a Raptor is going to come to a close. Masai almost traded him last year to the Pistons for Drummond, and has shown interest in moving him before. Jonas is off to a good start (although he is now injured) and if he continues to play well when he returns, he could up his trade value. Regardless, the Raps need something different down the middle.
Second year man Jakob Poeltl is exactly that. He’s been great off the bench so far this season, especially against the Warriors Wednesday night. He was out rebounding everyone, defensively and offensively. He finished the game with 12 points and 14 rebounds while starting his first game of the season. He showed off his soft touch around the rim and his great hustle on the boards. With the style of play the Raptors are forced to play (courtesy of DeMar and Kyle), J.V.’s style of play isn’t really a fit. If he was a half decent rim protector, it would be a different story, but for a 7-footer he’s really not that effective defensively. Poeltl is a young guy who just hustles and does all the dirty work. He’s what we need, and what we will get once Jonas gets traded this season.
3. This new three-point-centric offense won’t last; neither will Casey:
Screw you Steph Curry. I mean that in the nicest way possible. I mean you’re a great player, but you’ve ruined the NBA. Everyone now thinks you need the three ball to win (which I guess if you can shoot it like Steph, is fair to say, but everyone who isn’t Steph can’t shoot like that). Because of Steph and the Warriors, we now have DeMar and the Raptors unleashing threes at a unprecedented rate. Newly acquired small forward C.J. Miles is being compared to Ray Allen by Dwane Casey…yes, Ray Freakin’ Allen! So far, I don’t see it, and I don’t think I ever will. C.J. Miles is a pretty good shooter, but the Raptors are treating him like he’s the best shooter the world has ever seen. He’s obviously got the green light, I mean just watch him. He’s shooting almost every time he gets the ball. In some games, it’s worked great, like the first game of the season. He shot 6-11 from three and had 27 points in 20 mins, but that was against the Bulls. Last Wednesday night against the Warriors, C.J. was taking some bad shots and struggled going 2-8 from three.
Along with Miles, we now have J.V. taking three’s in games, Siakam and Poeltl working on three’s in practice – everyone is shooting. I think the Raptors, more specifically coach Casey, are forcing themselves to go away from what they are best at. To me, that’s not a good sign. When a coach is forced to adapt to other teams’ offenses and steer away from what his team is actually best at, it means he has no idea what he is doing. I think this new three point oriented offense won’t last longer then the All Star break and because of it, Casey will be fired.
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