Kawhi Leonard has returned home, but what happens next for the Toronto Raptors?
In a move that sent shockwaves around the world, Kawhi Leonard finally announced where he would be playing basketball next season. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be in Toronto with the Raptors. But fortunately, it also wasn’t to be with LeBron James at the Lakers. Leonard had his heart set on a move back to his home town, and Raptors fans can’t hold that against him. He will always be a legend, and his performances throughout the NBA Finals will be etched into every fans’ minds.
He will be missed, both on the court and as a person around the city. Leonard brought much more to the city than just his skills on the court. But life goes on and so will the Raptors. These are potential avenues that Toronto could explore in a bid to regain their NBA title.
Undoubtedly the chances of a second NBA title were hit by the departure of Leonard, and it could be the right time to bring back Vince Carter for a celebratory season in Toronto. The 42-year-old is a free agent and could bring a new element to the team that could see those around him excel.
Carter played in 76 games last season for the Atlanta Hawks, and his leadership skills could play a crucial part on the court and in the development of players such as Chris Boucher, Pascal Siakam and OG Anounoby. Regardless of how the season plays out, there will always be a question of what if. But the return of Carter may help to lift the clouds from the Scotiabank and restore the feel-good atmosphere following the departure of Leonard.
Develop A New Star
The dream plan for any sports team when they lose a legendary player is to say they will look to bring through an up and comer and that they can lead the team in the way that the former star did. However, very rarely this tactic plays out well and can often blow up in a franchise’s face. However, Nick Nurse could have the player to buck that trend already in the roster with the Raptors in Chris Boucher.
Boucher only played four minutes in the run to the Finals. But in those four minutes, he highlighted the potential he has. He recorded a rebound, five points and a block. Raptors fans’ quickly took to him. He has all the tools to succeed in the NBA; including his height and a muscular physique. He can be menacing at both ends of the court, and the prospect of having a Canadian play for the Raptors only whets the appetite. He could be one to watch in the coming season.
The emotions ran high among Raptors fans when Leonard finally made his decision, and everybody quickly forgot that there was more to the team than just him. Make no mistake about it; the Raptors remain an excellent side. Leonard may have gone. But the NBA Champions still boast a proven all-star in Kyle Lowry. As well as a former defensive player of the year in Marc Gasol.
The Nets, Heat and Pacers are arguably the only teams that have strengthened. And that’s only a marginal improvement. The Hawks and Wizards will be back. But the East is there for the taking and while a second finals win looks unlikely; there’s no reason why the Raptors can’t target a long playoff run.