By Pasha Ho
The Toronto Raptors’ first regular-season game will be on Wednesday, October 20, at 7:30 pm. Kyle Lowry will not be the starting point guard, as he signed a 3 year / 90 million dollar contract with the Miami Heat this offseason. Instead, expect to see 4th overall pick Scottie Barnes make his regular season debut, with Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa also coming in the sign and trade with Miami.
Pascal Siakam is entering the second year of his 4 year / 136 million dollar contract; Fred Vanvleet is entering the second year of his 4 year / 85 million dollar contract; O.G. Anunoby is entering the first year of his 4 year / 72 million dollar rookie extension; Gary Trent Jr., the young forward acquired in the Norman Powell trade with Portland, is entering the first year of his 3 year / 52 million dollar extension. Expect all four players to take on a bigger role this season in spite of Lowry’s departure.
This season, the Raptors will not be playing in Tampa Bay and will welcome vaccinated fans back to a Scotiabank Arena packed at its maximum capacity. Here are a couple notable home games on the Raptors schedule:
Nov 7: Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets
With or without Kyrie Irving, this Nets team will still be a formidable team with Kevin Durant and James Harden. They are the early title favourites, according to Vegas Insider. This game will be a good test to see how the Raptors’ young core will fare against the experience of the Nets’ superstars.
Feb 3: Toronto Raptors vs. Miami Heat
Kyle Lowry is in town. Enough said.
My Final Predictions:
The Raptors have a strong, young core that will be fun to watch every night, but I think they will struggle against experienced teams such as the Bucks, Nets and Heat. In an 82 game schedule, I expect them to finish with around 35-40 wins, and finish 10th to 12th in the Eastern division, just shy of the playoffs. If the Raptors want to make the playoffs, the role players will need to step up this season.