The Toronto Raptors have had a season of drastic lineup changes, new milestones and some disappointments that came to a close at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
DeMar DeRozan lead his team off the court on Sunday to a standing ovation of chanting fans.
DeRozan finished the fourth and final game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals with 22
points, eight assists and four rebounds. Despite the season ending with a sweep and an injured Kyle Lowry, there is a host of highlights that Toronto should take into account when determining the quality of this season.
Acquiring Serge Ibaka: Though it resulted in the departure of fan favourite Terrence Ross, trading with the Orlando Magic for Ibaka was a move that provided the roster with intimidating shot blocking, size and a reliable mid-range shot. His experience in the 2012 NBA Finals with the Oklahoma City Thunder could prove to be a valuable asset to a team with championship hopes going forward.
The return of P.J.: Tenacious and multi-faceted defending paired with solid three-point shooting bodes well for the Raptors’ future. That’s precisely why P.J. Tucker was obtained from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Jared Sullinger and two second-round draft picks. The forward was originally a second round pick for Toronto in the 2006 draft, but was released by the team after just 17 games. With his return coming just over a decade later, he is now tasked with being a go-to matchup against opposing stars with elite offensive prowess.
All-star achievements: Both Lowry and DeRozan made the all-star game in New Orleans, with DeRozan being named a starter. This was the third year in a row in which both represented Toronto at all-star weekend. DeRozan also entered the event having just become the Raptor’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing Chris Bosh’s record and cementing him in the hearts of Raptors fans for a long time to come.
Even though the positive factors of this season remain bright and crucial to the franchise, there is still at least one critical uncertainty that looms around after a disheartening playoff sweep.
Lowry: The all-star point guard, who proved once again to be a staple of this playoff-caliber roster has opted out of his contract to become a free agent. A stronger Western Conference team could prove to be his next destination if the East no longer seems suitable for his career goals.
If fans want to know more about the direction of the franchise after this season, they can catch General Manager Masai Ujiri's season-ending press conference.
By: John Pattee