2018-19 NBA Season Preview: Toronto Raptors
Left to Right - Kawhi Leonard's Toronto Raptors' jersey, Nick Nurse and Kyle Lowry
The 2017-18 NBA regular season was a record-breaking campaign for the Toronto Raptors, setting a franchise record for wins (59) and winning their fourth consecutive Atlantic division title. Unfortunately, the postseason didn't go as planned for the team from the North.
Despite their success and achievements in the 2017-18 regular season, the Raptors had to slog hard through 6 games in the first round against the Washington Wizards but what transpired in the next round against the Cleveland Cavaliers surprised everybody. They didn't just lose to the LeBron James-led squad but they got swept by the 4th seeded Cavs, bringing an abrupt and far too early end to a season that had legitimate championship aspirations.
Following their elimination, it would have required a very brave front office to stick with the same roster and coaching staff. In fairness to the management, the franchise had already done so, with the core trio of guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, and head coach Dwane Casey for over six seasons which included three seasons with 50+ wins.
But that's all in the past, as the offseason is almost near its end, here's a preview the 2018-19 season for the Raptors:
The Toronto franchise's offseason is headlined by their early morning trade on 18th July for disgruntled San Antonio Spurs' superstar Kawhi Leonard. Through the deal, the team also received Danny Green in exchange for 4-time All-Star DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick.
But this move still came almost two months after their exit from the 2018 postseason. The first consequence from their elimination was Dwane Casey, who was fired after coaching the team to a 320-238 (57.3%) over seven full seasons. The front office replaced Casey with his assistant Nick Nurse, who was named the NBA D-League Coach of the Year in 2011 and twice led the Raptors' D-League affiliate Rio Grande Valley Vipers to two D-League Championships in 2011 and 2013.
The firing of the coach and trade pretty much summed up the summer for the Raptors but the franchise also added free agent forward Greg Monroe to bolster their frontcourt depth.