- Sportsbooks can’t seem to agree on how the Raptors will perform in 2018-19
- Will Kawhi Leonard reassert himself as one of the NBA’s best two-way players?
- Will Danny Green and Greg Monroe make an impact in Toronto?
Turns out you and your buddies aren’t the only ones who can’t get a handle on the Raptors. Online sportsbooks are also struggling to come to a consensus on Toronto’s title chances, leading to wild discrepancies in the team’s 2019 NBA championship odds.
2019 NBA Championship Average Odds
So, why are professional bookmakers in obvious disagreement over Toronto’s fortunes? The answer, of course, is Kawhi Leonard, whom the Raptors acquired in July for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a 2019 first-round pick.
Bovada has clearly read the many online stories about Leonard’s productive conversations with new head coach Nick Nurse, and seems to believe the two-time All-Star is in a healthy head space and ready to contribute.
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse’s first meeting with Kawhi Leonard seems to have went well. pic.twitter.com/SqtF6fyRIw
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) July 29, 2018
MyBookie, meanwhile, isn’t so sure. They’re likely haunted by images of Leonard in street clothes on San Antonio’s bench, and are reminded of how the two-time Defensive Player of the Year chose to sit out the postseason despite being medically cleared to return.
Leonard’s reticence has led to much speculation, but what we do know for certain is that he passed his physical on July 24th and has been participating in high-level pick-up games ever since. Those who have seen him up close report that he’s regained his explosiveness and has been getting to the rim with ease.
The Raptors are gonna be scary in the East with a healthy Kawhi Leonard at the forefront. ? pic.twitter.com/3jNE0ESvnp
— Raptors Nation (@_raptors_nation) September 3, 2018
For now, Leonard and the Raptors are ranked fifth among all NBA Championship contenders behind only the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, and Los Angeles Lakers.
Top 5 2019 NBA Championship Contenders
|Golden State Warriors||-195|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+1000|
It’s worth noting that Leonard won’t be the only new face on the Raptors this season. The club also acquired Danny Green from the Spurs and signed Greg Monroe and Kay Felder to free agent deals.
Like Leonard, Green was also hobbled in 2017-18, and played much of the season with a torn groin. The injury limited his lateral movement and prevented him from playing the kind of hard-nosed, lockdown D that has made him so valuable over the years. If healthy, Green should help improve Toronto’s perimeter defense while providing a much-needed release valve on offense.
Monroe could also play a meaningful role in 2018-19 after spending the previous season with Milwaukee, Phoenix, and Boston. The 6’11” big man averaged 10.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in 26 games with the Celtics and has the size and skill to bully smaller defenders on the block. He’s no longer a starting caliber center given his precarious lack of mobility, but Monroe can provide plenty of value in limited spurts off the bench.
Felder, meanwhile, will compete for minutes in Toronto’s crowded back court. The 5’9″ dynamo has exceptional speed and vision, but should be viewed mostly as an insurance policy in case Lowry or Fred VanVleet go down for an extended period of time.
Be sure to check out our 2019 NBA Championship Odds Tracker throughout the year to see how Toronto’s fortunes fluctuate during the 2018-19 season.