The Toronto Raptors finished 51-31 last season, but largely due to the high-profile trades and signings made by the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, they have gone overlooked when predicting the top teams in the Eastern Conference heading into the 2017-2018 season.
But, they did make a couple of minor moves.
After re-signing both Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, the Raptors traded DeMarre Carroll to the Brooklyn Nets for Justin Hamilton (who they later waived) and them acquired C.J. Miles from the Indiana Pacers in a sign-and-trade for Cory Joseph.
On the other hand, the Cavaliers added Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade while the Celtics gained Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward and drafted Jayson Tatum. The difference is obvious.
Therefore, it was important for the Raptors to focus on the development of their own squad this summer. As reported by The Canadian Press for the Toronto Sun, it appears that some key members of the team are in peak physical condition after grueling offseason workouts.
Guard Norman Powell apparently had back-to-back-to-back workouts at three different gyms beginning at 5:00 a.m. every day.
“I’d work out three times a day every summer, but I used to do one in the morning, one in the afternoon and then night, spaced out,” Powell said. “But I wanted to really train my body in a different way, push myself through fatigue. It definitely trained my body in a different way.”
As a result, he feels much better now than he did heading into last season from a physical standpoint.
“I feel a lot stronger. . . especially in my weights and conditioning, it was a different type of workout than I’m used to, high reps, and non-stop,” he said. “It was tiring, fatiguing your muscles really quickly, but being able to lock in and push through that mentally. So I feel I’m in the best shape of my life and ready to go.”
Powell wasn’t the only one to make intense workouts a priority this summer.
“(Lowry’s) in great shape, Jonas (Valanciunas), all of our guys,” said coach Dwane Casey. “I don’t know of anyone who’s not in great basketball condition. This is probably the best summer our guys have had as far as body fat, weight, conditioning, running, since I’ve been here.”
So, while the Celtics and Cavaliers may trump the Raptors on paper, it remains to be seen how Toronto’s approach will play out over the course of the season.