Reviewing the 2019-20 Toronto Raptors

November 11th, 2020

by Alan Lu

This is the current Toronto Raptors’ logo.
(Photo:
The Toronto Raptors, via Sports Logo History)

The Toronto Raptors were able to win the 2019 NBA championship in six games in the 2019 NBA Finals over the Golden State Warriors, with superstar forward Kawhi Leonard, star point guard Kyle Lowry, and then rookie head coach Nick Nurse leading the charge.

A lot has changed since then.  Kawhi left to go to the Clippers, and the Raptors were suddenly long shots for the title in 2020.  Head coach Nick Nurse did a tremendous coaching job in 2020 though, as he was able to lead his team to 53 wins in 72 games during the regular season, which far surpassed expectations, and he ended up being the 2020 Head Coach of the Year award winner.  Also, they received strong play from first-time All-Star forward Pascal Siakam in the regular season, and he had a breakout season as the team’s leading scorer this year.

The Raptors swept the Brooklyn Nets to get to the second round.  Once there, they dropped their first two games to Boston, but they were able to pick up a pair of nail-biting wins before losing the series in 7 to the Celtics.  The Raptors had a solid season overall, and they will be looking to carry that momentum into the next season.

Kyle Lowry has been the heart and soul of the Toronto Raptors, and his strong play and leadership helped his team win many games in 2020.
(Photo:
Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images, via Digital and Radio Facts)

G Kyle Lowry – A-

2020 (TOR): 58 GP, 19.4 PPG, 7.5 APG, 5.0 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 42 FG%, 35 3PT%, 86 FT%, 36.2 MPG, 17.7 PER, 7.5 WS

Lowry had a solid season for the Raptors.  He was a very good all-around player for his team during the regular season, and he was also very efficient in making shots for them.  He also came up big in Game 6 of the second round against the Boston Celtics, as he hit the go-ahead shot from mid-range to help get his team a Game 7.   The only downside was that he struggled to make threes consistently in the playoffs.  Though they ended up losing that series, Lowry proved that he was the heart and soul of his team, and his skills and leadership will help the Raptors for the upcoming season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting point guard of the Toronto Raptors
Projected 2021 Rating: 3.5 stars

Toronto Raptors’ forward, Pascal Siakam made his first All-Star team in 2020 as he played very well for most of the regular season, but he didn’t quite play as well in the Orlando bubble as hoped, and he struggled to make shots efficiently in the postseason this year.
(Photo:
Kim Klement/USA Today Sports, via Essentially Sports)

F Pascal Siakam – B

2020 (TOR): 60 GP, 22.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 3.5 APG, 45 FG%, 36 3PT%, 79 FT%, 35.2 MPG, 17.9 PER, 5.4 WS

He is an athletic, energetic big man that had a very good season with the Raptors this year.  He excelled as a shooter and scorer for his team in the regular season, and he also showed off solid playmaking and defensive skills.  However, there were concerns that his play had tapered off in the Orlando bubble, and Siakam had trouble making shots efficiently in the playoffs.  With his woeful performance in the playoffs, the conclusion seems to be, Siakam may not be an elite player, but he is a solid player that can certainly help his team get plenty of wins in the regular season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting power forward on the Toronto Raptors
Projected 2021 Rating: 3 stars

Toronto Raptors’ forward, OG Anunoby’s best moment of the 2019-20 season was when he made a game-winning three over the outstretched arm of Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown to get the Raptors a Game 3 win in the second round of the 2020 NBA playoffs.
(Photo:
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images, via Yahoo)

F OG Anunoby – B

2020 (TOR): 69 GP, 10.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.4 SPG, 51 FG%, 39 3PT%, 71 FT%, 29.9 MPG, 13.2 PER, 5.7 WS

OG Anunoby also had a solid season with the Raptors.  He excelled as a shooter and defender for his team, and he was able to make a clutch, game-winning three-point shot in Game 3 of the second round against the Boston Celtics to get Toronto the win in that game (although Boston would go on to win the series).  Anunoby’s not exactly an elite scorer, but his solid 3 and D skills will allow him to earn a lot of minutes with the Raptors for the upcoming season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting small forward for the Toronto Raptors
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars (3 star potential)

Toronto Raptors’ guard, Fred VanVleet had a solid season with the Raptors in 2020, and Toronto will look to re-sign him during the upcoming offseason.
(Photo:
Kevin C. Cox/AP, via The Wichita Eagle)

G Fred VanVleet – B+

2020 (TOR): 54 GP, 17.6 PPG, 6.6 APG, 3.8 RPG, 1.9 SPG, 41 FG%, 39 3PT%, 85 FT%, 35.7 MPG, 16.3 PER, 5.8 WS

Fred VanVleet had a very good season in 2020 with the Raptors.  He excelled as a scorer and shooter, and he excelled as a facilitator and defender when he was on the court.  He struggled to make two-point shots consistently in the playoffs, but VanVleet generally played well this year, and he will likely be a solid player for the Raptors or another team in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starter/solid bench player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

C Marc Gasol – B-

2020 (TOR): 44 GP, 7.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.3 APG, 43 FG%, 39 3PT%, 73 FT%, 26.4 MPG, 11.8 PER, 3 WS

Gasol is a skilled big man that excelled as a shooter, facilitator, and interior defender for his team.  He was a versatile scorer that made shots in a variety of ways, and he also passes the ball well.  However, he struggled to rebound the ball consistently, and he had trouble making shots in the postseason.  Still, Marc Gasol has had a very good career in the NBA.  He’s been rumored to want to go overseas to play professionally in Spain, but either way, the Raptors are in good hands if he comes back or not to play for them for the upcoming season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Solid role player either in the NBA or in the Spanish ACB League (has been rumored to want to retire from the NBA)
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

Side note: Marc Gasol will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

F-C Serge Ibaka – B+

2020 (TOR): 55 GP, 15.4 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 51 FG%, 38 3PT%, 72 FT%, 27 MPG, 17.3 PER, 3.9 WS

Serbe Ibaka also played very well this past season, as he excelled as a shooter, rebounder, and interior defender for his team.  While he’s not really an elite scorer, he made shots efficiently, and he also played solid defense in the playoffs.  He excels in his role as a floor spacer and rim protector, and he will likely earn a lot of minutes on the Raptors for the upcoming season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starter/solid bench player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

G Norman Powell – A-

2020 (TOR): 52 GP, 16 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 49 FG%, 40 3PT%, 84 FT%, 28.4 MPG, 16.8 PER, 4.6 WS

Norman Powell had a really good season with the Raptors, and he really ramped up his scoring efforts in 2020.  He excelled as a shooter and scorer, and he also played solid defense.  He will need to improve his rebounding, but overall, he excelled in his role, and he will likely earn a lot of playing time next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starter/solid bench player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

G Terence Davis – B+

2020 (TOR): 72 GP, 7.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 46 FG%, 39 3PT%, 86 FT%, 16.8 MPG, 13.8 PER, 3.1 WS

Terence Davis had a very good rookie season with the Toronto Raptors.  The undrafted rookie guard excelled as a shooter and scorer, and he played a solid all-around game in the regular season.  He didn’t quite defend as well in the playoffs, but Davis has shown that he can be a key contributor on one of the best teams in the NBA.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars)

F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – C+

2020 (TOR): 60 GP, 7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 47 FG%, 13 3PT%, 73 FT%, 18.7 MPG, 15.1 PER, 3.4 WS

Hollis-Jefferson is a very athletic, energetic combo forward that is a defensive specialist for the Raptors in the NBA.  He will attack the basket to score inside, and he also is a solid passer and rebounder.  He will need to improve his shooting and scoring ability, and he did not get much run in the playoffs.  Still, his ability to defend and make high-motor plays will likely enable him to be a regular rotation player for an NBA team for the upcoming season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Side note: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

F-C Chris Boucher – B

2020 (TOR): 62 GP, 6.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 47 FG%, 32 3PT%, 78 FT%, 13.2 MPG, 20.7 PER, 3.8 WS

Boucher is a very athletic big man that can space the floor to help his team on offense, and he is a high-motor player that also is a solid rebounder and interior defender on the court.  Boucher also is a speedy big man whose rim running abilities allows him to be an effective scorer around the basket.  He’s been behind Marc Gasol and Ibaka on the depth chart, so he hasn’t been able to get many minutes up until this past season, but Boucher excelled at making plays on both ends of the court. 

On the downside, he didn’t make outside shots consistently in the regular season, and he also struggled to consistently knock down shots in the playoffs in limited minutes, though.  Still, Boucher is an intriguing talent whose skills should allow him to be a regular in the Raptors’ rotation for the upcoming season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Side note: Will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

G Matt Thomas – B

2020 (TOR): 41 GP, 4.9 PPG, 49 FG%, 47 3PT%, 75 FT%, 10.7 MPG, 13.3 PER, 1.2 WS

Matt Thomas is a sharpshooting guard that excels at knocking down jump shots to space the floor for his team.  He did a great job of making three-pointers to help his team on offense, and he also showed off some defensive skills.  Thomas had a solid rookie season, and he could be in line to be a rotation regular for the upcoming season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

F Stanley Johnson – C

2020 (TOR): 25 GP, 2.4 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 37 FG%, 29 3PT%, 56 FT%, 6 MPG, 9.9 PER, 0 WS

Stanley Johnson is an athletic, energetic basketball player that can play multiple positions on the court.  He didn’t especially play very well in the regular season as he struggled to find his footing in the team’s rotation, but he was able to make a clutch, game-winning shot against Brooklyn in the Orlando bubble late in the regular season in 2020

He also played very well in limited minutes in the playoffs.  Overall though, Johnson will need to improve his outside shot and make more shots consistently in games.  While it’s uncertain if he’ll be able to crack Toronto’s rotation next season, he seems to be talented enough to make an NBA team’s rotation, and he could be a useful role player if he can play well on a consistent basis.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

Side note: Johnson has a player option at the end of the 2019-20 season.

G Patrick McCaw – C

2020 (TOR): 37 GP, 4.6 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 41 FG%, 32 3PT%, 72 FT%, 24.5 MPG, 7.3 PER, 1.4 WS

Patrick McCaw is a St. Louis native-born basketball player that is a three-time NBA champion, as he has won two titles with the Golden State Warriors in 2017 and 2018, and one with the Raptors in 2019, all in a reserve role off the bench.  McCaw saw plenty of minutes with the Raptors, though he did miss some time due to having underwent knee surgery during the season.

When healthy, he excelled as a facilitator and defender, but he was entirely too passive on offense, as he did not take enough shots, and McCaw did not shoot the ball particularly well nor score much in games.  Still, he is a versatile swingman that can play a rotational role on the Raptors, and his ability to distribute the basketball and defend could enable him to get some playing time on the court for the upcoming season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

F Malcolm Miller – C+

2020 (TOR): 28 GP, 1.3 PPG, 41 FG%, 36 3PT%, 38 FT%, 5.8 MPG, 6.7 PER, 0.3 WS

He is a swingman that projects to play in a 3 and D role for the Raptors.  Miller has not seen the floor much in his three seasons with them in the NBA, but he has consistently shown the capacity to fill that role effectively in games.  He hasn’t been able to get many minutes for them though because of the depth and talent of their roster.  On a worse team, Miller certainly would be able to challenge for significant playing time, but on the Raptors, he currently projects to be a backend roster player that can play extended minutes for them if they need him to.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

Side note: Miller will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

G-F Paul Watson (Two-Way) – C (D- with Atlanta, B with Toronto)

2020 (TOT): 10 GP, 3.1 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 38 FG%, 33 3PT%, 78 FT%, 8.7 MPG, 12.6 PER, 0.2 WS
2020 (ATL): 2 GP, 0 PPG, 1.5 APG, 1.0 RPG, 0 FG%, 8.5 MPG, -7.1 PER, -0.1 WS
2020 (TOR): 8 GP, 3.9 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 53 FG%, 44 3PT%, 78 FT%, 8.8 MPG, 17.3 PER, 0.3 WS
2020 (NBA G-League): 30 GP, 19 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 49 FG%, 42 3PT%, 65 FT%, 35.3 MPG, 14.1 PER, 1.3 WS

Paul Watson is a skilled swingman that projects into a 3 and D role at the NBA level.  He played for both the Hawks and Raptors this season, and he showed off some playmaking and defensive skills.  He shot the ball well in limited minutes for the Raptors, but he was not able to score in two games with the Hawks.  He will need to be able to make more shots consistently at this level, but he could be due for more minutes for the upcoming season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

F Oshae Brissett (Two-Way) – C-

2020 (TOR): 19 GP, 1.9 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 36 FG%, 20 3PT%, 80 FT%, 7.1 MPG, 6.7 PER, 0.1 WS
2020 (NBA G-League): 28 GP, 15.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 42 FG%, 27 3PT%, 71 FT%, 29.8 MPG, 14.2 PER, 1 WS

Brissett is an athletic, high-motor combo forward that played as a rookie on a two-way contract with the Raptors this past season.  He rebounded the ball very well and showed off some defensive skills, but he will really need to improve his ability to make shots and passing skills in the meantime.  He projects to be a backend roster player for the Raptors for the upcoming season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth forward, fringe roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1 star (2 star potential)

C Dewan Hernandez – C-

2020 (TOR): 6 GP, 2.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 36 FG%, 50 3PT%, 60 FT%, 4.7 MPG, 12.9 PER, 0 WS
2020 (NBA G-League): 9 GP, 13.4 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 2.0 BPG, 1.6 APG, 40 FG%, 15 3PT%, 57 FT%, 29.3 MPG, 12.8 PER, 0 WS

After having missed the 2018-19 season due to an unfortunate ruling by the NCAA, Hernandez’s  journey to the NBA was a feel-good story, as he had played very well in the NBA Draft Combine, and he ended up being a late second round pick selected by the then-defending champions, Toronto Raptors.

The athletic, high-motor big man didn’t see the floor very much with the Raptors, but he was able to knock down a three to show off some stretch big potential, and he also excelled as a passer and rebounder on the court.  He will need to improve his scoring ability and defense, but he has the skills to be a solid backup center in the NBA.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth big man, fringe roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1 star (2 star potential)

Toronto Raptors’ head coach, Nick Nurse won an NBA championship in his rookie season as an NBA head coach in 2019, and he is one of the best coaches in the NBA right now.
(Photo:
Tom Szczerbowski/USA Today Sports,via The Athletic)

Head Coach:
Nick Nurse – A-

When the Toronto Raptors lost Kawhi Leonard to free agency, many people (myself included), thought that would take them out of title contention and hurtling towards a mid-to-low tier playoff seed in the East.

Instead, Nick Nurse did a tremendous job of leading his team to get many wins in the regular season, and they far exceeded expectations that were placed upon them.  They won 53 of 72 games to get the 2nd seed out in the East, and they were able to get two All-Stars in Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam.

Nurse also was instrumental in taking his team to 7 games in a tough, hard-fought second round series against the Boston Celtics, and they were able to eek out nail-biting wins in Games 3 and 6.  They fought valiantly in Game 7, but they couldn’t hold on, as they ended up losing a close one to Boston in a game that would decide which team would advance to the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals.  Still, Nurse did a great job of coaching his team overall, and he managed to get a lot out of his players, and they will look to build off of the 2019 and 2020 seasons to create something special for the upcoming season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Head Coach of the Toronto Raptors

Projected 2021 Rating: 4 stars

The 2020 Toronto Raptors, season grade: A-

The Raptors won far more games than anyone had anticipated, and Nick Nurse seemed to have made believers out of even the most hardened of skeptics.  Thought to be at best a long shot for the title in 2020 after having lost Kawhi due to free agency, head coach Nick Nurse managed to get great years from many of his players, and they played unselfishly, cohesively, and they were collectively a very good basketball team that won many games. 

They couldn’t quite make it to the Eastern Conference Finals though after having been a tough series battle against the Boston Celtics in the second round, but it became a very plausible and logical thought after they had won 53 of their 72 games in the regular season.  The Raptors will likely need more offensive firepower moving forward, but their talent, depth, and strong coaching will help them go far next season.

The Toronto Raptors’ Projected 2020-21 NBA Rotation

Projected Starters:
C Serge Ibaka* (UFA)
F Pascal Siakam
F OG Anunoby
G Fred VanVleet* (UFA)
G Kyle Lowry

Key Reserves:
G Norman Powell
G Terence Davis
F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson* (UFA)
F-C Chris Boucher* (RFA)
G Matt Thomas

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
G-F Patrick McCaw
F Stanley Johnson
The 29th Overall Pick of the 2020 NBA Draft

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
F Malcolm Miller
F Paul Watson (Two-Way Contract)
C Dewan Hernandez
F Oshae Brissett (Two-Way Contract)
The 59th Overall Pick of the 2020 NBA Draft

Players that will be Restricted Free Agents:
Chris Boucher
Malcolm Miller

Players that will be Unrestricted Free Agents:
Fred VanVleet
Serge Ibaka
Marc Gasol (Projected to Retire)
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Projected Players Cut from Next Season’s Roster:
Dewan Hernandez, Oshae Brissett

2020 NBA Draft Picks:
#29, #59

Projected Offseason Plan for the Raptors:

 Now that the Raptors are in the post-Kawhi Leonard era, for the time being, it seems like they will build their team around Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam.  Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka are both in their 30s and are not getting any younger, so the best course for the Raptors would be to continue to move forward to make the title push.  According to Spotrac, they have nearly $20 million to spend, but assuming that they would want to keep that intact, they will likely use that money to retain their current impending free agents.  Marc Gasol is already rumored to indicate his intentions to leave and head home to Spain. 

Therefore, it may be wise for the Raptors to place their efforts to re-sign and retain VanVleet, Ibaka, and Chris Boucher, and they could also look to re-sign Hollis-Jefferson, too.  The Raptors can use all the depth they need, and the players they could bring back have already shown that they can play well within their team system.  If they don’t bring back those players, then they will need wing players that can 3 and D, as well as interior players that can protect the rim.

In the NBA draft, they have two picks (29 and 59), as one is towards the end of the first round, and the other is towards the end of the second round.  It’s uncertain if they’ll be able to find a player that can crack their rotation right away, so they could very well just look to select the best player available.  If they’re looking for a positional fit, they could always look to find more wing players that can shoot and defend, and they also could look to draft ball handlers or rim protectors to round out their rotation.

Expected Regular-Season Win-Loss Record in 2021*: 50-22, 2nd in the Eastern Conference

The 2021 Toronto Raptors are projected to contend to have the most regular season wins, and in this scenario, they would play the winner of the 2021 play-in game between the 7th seeded Indiana Pacers and the 10th seeded Atlanta Hawks.

Expected 2021 Season Outcome:  They will likely finish at or near the top of the Eastern Conference standings, and the Raptors will likely win a lot of regular season games.  However, they don’t have one elite player though, so they could end up stalling in either the second round or in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021.

(* – The asterisk denotes that the expected regular season win total is adjusted for the 72-game schedule that the NBA will play for the 2020-21 season.  The initial projection for the Raptors was for them to get 57 wins in an 82-game season. This is a preliminary projection and it does not take into account the NBA Draft or free agency, as those events have not happened yet.)

In case if you need the rubric for my player rating system of projecting NBA players for the 2020-21 season, here is the link. In addition, Basketball-Reference, RealGM, and Spotrac were vital information sites that I used to look at player and team statistics, as well as contract information.

Side note: Also, the letter grades attached to the player name was my grade for their 2019-20 season, as it is my judgment of their performance and whether or not they met or exceeded my expectations, and didn’t have much bearing on my projection of how they will perform for the 2020-21 NBA season.

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