2016-17 Record: 51-31 (3rd in East)
Players Added: OG Anunoby (Draft), Lorenzo Brown (FA), K.J. McDaniels (FA), Alfonzo McKinnie (FA), Kennedy Meeks (FA), C.J. Miles (Trade with IND), Malcolm Miller (FA), Kyle Wiltjer (FA)
Players Lost: DeMarre Carroll (Trade with BKN), Cory Joseph (Trade with IND), Patrick Patterson (FA), P.J. Tucker (FA)
Projected Team MVP: Kyle Lowry
Kyle Lowry missed 22 games over the course of the 2016-2017 season. Aside from that injury hiccup, it was the best campaign of his career by a significant margin. The veteran point guard posted career-best figures in PER (22.9), true shooting (62.3 percent), win shares per 48 minutes (.216), three-point shooting (41.2 percent), field goal percentage (46.4 percent), rebounding (4.8 per game) and scoring (22.4 points per game). That is, of course, pretty good.
There was quite a bit of hype for Lowry’s backcourt running mate in DeMar DeRozan and that makes sense given that the swingman averaged a robust 27.3 points per game. However, it was Lowry that was the engine for the best lineups in Toronto and his overall floor game (and significant defensive edge) gives him the advantage over DeRozan in a purely “most valuable” discussion.
Looking ahead, Lowry will be 32 in March and there is some fear of a drop-off as a result. He signed a lucrative deal in the offseason but, in short, it was actually less than many projected and his age likely has something to do with that. Throw in the fact that Lowry will almost certainly regress from his unfathomably productive season a year ago and it will be interesting to see where he lands.
One thing is for sure, though, and that is the Raptors are an excellent regular season basketball team whenever Kyle Lowry is on the floor.