After a promising start that had them flirting with the top seed out East, the Toronto Raptors stumbled on their way to the playoffs and suffered a first-round exit against the Washington Wizards.
The team’s make-up is crystal clear, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan was the primary shot creators while Jonas Valanciunas was supposed to be the inside threat. However, the Raptors weren’t about to scare any other team defensively anytime soon which prompted GM Masai Ujiri to pull the trigger on some moves.
They got DeMarre Carroll on board at 15 million a season for the next four years, and signed Luis Scola, Cory Joseph, Bismack Biyombo, and Anthony Bennett through various and separate deals. They also drafted Norman Powell and Delon Wright which fits exactly well into the new defense-first philosophy, at least, roster-wise. Just to get it out there, the team is 8th-worst in the league in terms of defensive efficiency.
Lastly, Amir Johnson and Lou Williams have already left.
Breakout Candidate: Jonas Valanciunas
The Lithuanian big man has been on the sleeper list for as long fantasyheads remember and one reason he hasn’t realize his potential yet is because he is not who they’re looking for on offense most of the time. Valanciunas is a capable low-post operator who won’t hurt your percentages even when he’s at the charity line (78.6%).
Williams’ and Greivis Vasquez’ combined 20.4 attempts are gone so at least a half of those going Valanciunas’ way could be the big boost we are looking for.
Bust Candidate: Terrence Ross
Simply put, Terrence Ross doesn’t fit the defensive mantra the Raptors are desperately trying to take on. The former eighth overall pick hasn’t picked up on a solid second year with a relatively poor showing last season (9.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1 assist, 41% FG). Carroll will be there to take over the other wing spot beside DeRozan and that doesn’t bode well for the University of Washington product and his fantasy stock.
Deep-League Sleeper: Cory Joseph
What’s not to like? Joseph has been under the tutelage of Tony Parker with the Spurs and he calls Toronto his home. Coach Dwayne Casey oftentimes play multiple guards at once and Joseph is his best choice right now over rookies Powell and Wright.
Joseph’s per-36 minute numbers are not overwhelming but 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists with over a steal per game indicates he can be a multi-category contributor if given the chance.
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