The time is upon us. The Toronto Raptors’ training camp begins in five days in Quebec City. There is less than one month left before the season officially begins. Fans have been waiting patiently for almost three months now and we’re getting pretty darn anxious for the life-giving action of the NBA to hit our television screens again.
Three months is a long time. Plenty of time to think about what happened last season, revel in how epic the post-season was, and wonder about the future season on the horizon. There are so many questions to consider! Here are the top five things I’m most looking forward to for the 2019-20 season.
1.Pascal Siakam stepping up as the team’s leader. Will he sign a contract extension?
I’ve already made my feelings clear about Pascal. I believe he has what it takes to fill Kawhi’s leadership role and I believe he’s going to be great. While Serge Ibaka wasn’t that far behind Siakam as far as points go (Spicy P had 16.9 per game while Mr. I-Block-A had 15.0), his performance last year was pretty dependant upon Kwahi to attract the opponents’ best defenders, this year he’s on his own. Will this still allow him to shine the same way? Will it be enough for him to get offered a contract extension? Fans will be biting their nails until this decision is announced, that’s for sure.
2. Will they make Fred a starter?
It’s impossible to forget Fred’s stellar performance in Game 6 against Golden State. Respect. Never mind the rest of his wicked reputation as a cool-headed never-say-die-er. Michael Grange of SportsNet said that Fred “might be the smartest, the most tenacious” player on the team. With an attitude like that and skills that are/were proven when it mattered most, how could he NOT be made a starter?
3. The new/old court and jerseys
Everybody loves some good sports nostalgia! We all know that the Scotiabank Center has been undergoing some serious renovations, including the installation of a huge new screen in Jurassic Park (Maple Leaf Square), a bridge over Bay Street, and some impressive new signage. But then there’s the new court design. Ah! Just look at that huge dino at centre court! And there will be jerseys to match? I can’t even wait.
4. When the Raps play Kawhi
December 11 is the day. Toronto’s favourite fun guy will once again be on the court with his buddies from the six. Raptors fans across the globe will have to employ the stiff upper lip as we watch our boy pound the boards wearing the wrong colors.
5. How Kawhi’s absence will be felt.
And speaking of the MVP, the thing I’m looking forward to the most – and simultaneously dreading – is how the Raps are going to proceed without him. Will it feel like there’s something or someone missing? Will they be completely cohesive and embrace their power as Champions? (Yes, I meant to capitalize Champions) They were great before Leonard and they will absolutely continue to be great, but I’m very interested to see exactly what kind of greatness emerges from his absence.