The 2020-21 NBA season is almost here with preseason starting this week on Dec. 11.
The Toronto Raptors' first preseason game doesn't tip off until the next day, Saturday, Dec. 12, when they take on the first of two matchups against the Charlotte Hornets.
MORE: Raptors-Hornets preseason preview
You can find the Raptors three-game preseason schedule below, with the full preseason broadcast schedule in Canada here.
|Saturday, Dec. 12||Raptors at Hornets||Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC||7 p.m. ET|
|Monday, Dec. 14||Raptors at Hornets||Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC||7 p.m. ET|
|Friday, Dec. 18||Heat at Raptors||Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL||7 p.m. ET|
MORE: Who is on the Raptors training camp roster? | Sign up for NBA League Pass today
There are a handful of new faces on Toronto's roster this season, with plenty of battles for playing time ready to take place. Those two things alone make preseason worth tuning into, but our NBA.com staff discusses what they're most excited about heading into the Raptors three exhibition games.
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I know we might not see big minutes from him, but I can't wait to watch Pascal Siakam take the floor again.
I'm sure it's been a long offseason for the Raptors' star forward, constantly hearing about his lack of production in the playoffs. While that criticism is well-warranted, I believe it will make Siakam even better this upcoming season. Coming off of what many people forget was an All-Star (as a starter, nonetheless) and All-NBA season, Siakam's playoff struggles likely kept a chip on his shoulder during all of his offseason workouts.
I'm most looking forward to what new moves he's added to his arsenal on the offensive end, because once teams started keying him as Toronto's go-to scorer, his patented spin move, among other moves, stopped working the way they once did. Opposing defences began to figure out how to stop Siakam from getting to his spots, making him uncomfortable on the offensive end, causing his production to stall.
With a hardworking offseason, I expect Siakam to come back with countermoves and new ways of creating his own looks off the dribble. Again, he may not play the minutes we'll see from him in the regular season, but I'm still excited to see what he's improved upon under a small-sample size microscope.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Seeing how it's essentially what the preseason is all about, I'm excited to see the young guys in action.
For the first time in a few years, Toronto has two draft picks on its roster. At some point to open the preseason, guards Malachi Flynn and Jalen Harris will get their first taste of NBA action. Flynn, the No. 29 overall pick in this year's draft, is a heady guard that could very well be the team's reserve guard of the future once Kyle Lowry passes the torch to Fred VanVleet, who made his long-term commitment to the franchise this offseason.
As an understudy of both Lowry and VanVleet, Flynn is getting the keys to be successful early on, a luxury not afforded to every rookie. We might even see Flynn put his defensive prowess on display as he faces a younger rookie point guard in LaMelo Ball.
While Harris is on a two-way deal, he could become the next developmental success for the franchise. Harris' college numbers suggest he's a pure scorer and we're set to get an early look at his ability to fill it up at the professional level, showing that if you scout correctly, you can get value out of the No. 59 pick.
These rookies headline Toronto's young group but I'm also excited to see Oshae Brissett, who, despite going into his second season is actually the second-youngest player on the roster. The Mississauga native dealt with injury last season but showed up when his number was called for a larger role. As Brissett is in a battle for the team's final roster spot, this preseason is the perfect opportunity for him to show and prove that he is more than deserving of the spot.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): We finally got to see the best of Norman Powell last season. Call it championship swagger, or just finding his footing in the league - whatever it was something clicked for Norm and it led to a career-year.
For me, Powell doesn't have to be better than he was last year for 2020-21 to be a success but he does have to maintain the level he was at. 16.0 points, 3.7 boards while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 39.9 percent from three - the Raptors will take that year in, year out from Powell.
There was a gap in production between the starter and the bench performer and it will be nice to see that gap closed but that's on Nurse and the coaching staff to best figure out how to make sure Powell is in the best situations to maximize his outputs.
While the on-court stuff is intriguing the potential off-court angle is just as interesting to me. Powell has a player option for the 2021-22 season so this could be a contract year for the 27-year-old. Will he get the contract year boost knowing his last real chance to cash in big could be in the 2021 off-season?
He's also the Raptors' best trade chip. Let's face it, it wouldn't shock any of us if Toronto made a mid-season trade to try and improve the team or gear up for the 2021 off-season and Powell could be in play there.
There's a lot of interesting things to watch play out in 2020-21 for the Raptors, Norman Powell may be the most intriguing.
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