Blogtable Archive

Blogtable: Can the Raptors win 60 games in 2016-17?

Each week, we ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.

NBA.com Staff

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The Toronto Raptors have improved their W-L record in each of the last five seasons and won a franchise-record 56 games last season. Do you see the Raptors winning 60 this season?

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David Aldridge: No. The Atlantic is improved, with the Boston Celtics likely much better (Al Horford, etc.) and New York at least a little better this season than last. Plus, the Raptors are going to take a while getting up to speed with projected starting power forward Jared Sullinger on the shelf following surgery and DeMarre Carroll needing to work off the rust from an injury-plagued season last year. Add Bismack Biyombo’s departure to the Orlando Magic via free agency and you have a team not as formidable up front this year compared with last season. Toronto is still a probably 50-win team, but low 50s.

Steve Aschburner: I have reservations about the Raptors in the postseason — I just don’t see that they’re built to get past Cleveland. But regular season? Sure, why not. Winning 60 would be the next logical progression for this crew, and a fat milestone like that would be especially appealing if, deep down, they share my reservations cited above They might be able to nail down the No. 1 seed in the East, which would help in an eventual showdown with the Cavaliers (but still leave Toronto short, IMO).

Fran Blinebury: I think that’s a tough ask for a Raptors team that might have maxed out last season, especially in an Eastern Conference that has other improved teams near the top in the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers.

Scott Howard-Cooper: I’ll stay in the high-50s. Maybe the same 56, now that they will be without Jared Sullinger, the projected starter at power forward, after losing Bismack Biyombo in free agency. The best way to put it: Whether the Raptors will 54 or 56 or 60, they will be a factor in the East.

Shaun Powell: Not even close. The East is tougher than it was a year ago, and at some point the Raptors will feel the loss of Bismack Biyombo, who started to come into his own late in the year and the playoffs. However, it won’t take 60 to make the playoffs, so that number really isn’t so magical or as meaningful.

John Schuhmann: No. A healthy DeMarre Carroll (only 26 games played last season) is reason to believe they can be better both offensively (more small ball) and defensively (because he’s one of their three best defenders). But they lost a key ingredient (Bismack Biyombo) to what was the league’s second best bench last season and 56 wins is probably their ceiling given their lack of ball movement on offense and Jonas Valanciunas’ limitations on defense.

Sekou Smith: I think the five-year ascent in the win column might be over for the Raptors. But I don’t think that means they’ll take a step back in the competition behind Cleveland in the Eastern Conference. They’ve built an impressive core and have a terribly underrated coach in Dwane Casey. I suspect they are headed for another 50-win season and a top four finish in the East. Trying to win 60, though … that’s a tall order for a team that had to grind the way the Raptors did last season to get 56. A return trip to the conference finals would be far more impressive than 60 wins, in my opinion. Do both, as Atlanta did a couple years ago, and the Raptors will really shock the basketball world.

Ian Thomsen: Sixty wins is an unfair threshold for this team, and it isn’t necessary. After reaching the conference finals, the Raptors ought to be thinking in terms of managing the regular season so that Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are at their best entering the playoffs while 24 year old center Jonas Valanciunas builds on strong postseason performances. If they can win 56 again — and there’s no reason they shouldn’t — then they should be in strong shape.

Lang Whitaker: Nope. And that’s mainly because they’ve been so good the last few seasons, I believe this year they will gear more toward the postseason than ever before. So as the regular season slogs along, perhaps they’ll be more careful with minutes in the hopes of being fresh come playoff time. I believe Toronto is the best challenger to Cleveland in the Eastern Conference. But that doesn’t mean they have to wear themselves out before the knockout rounds start.

MORE BLOGTABLE: Who is on your All-International first team? | Will Greg Monroe, DeMarcus Cousins or Nerlens Noel get traded first? | Can Raptors win 60 games in 2016-17?

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