AOL.com's Preseason NBA Power Rankings: 12. Toronto Raptors
Just a couple more weeks until the NBA is officially back, but to make the days a bit more bearable, AOL Sports has put together previews and rankings for each NBA team, released each weekday until the season finally begins.
Most recently, the Milwaukee Bucks came in at No. 13. You can find the rest here. Today, we cover the team that has claimed the entire geographical direction of North.
Last season, after returning almost the entire 2013-14 roster that impressed and won a surprise Atlantic Division crown, the Toronto Raptors came out roaring. They spent much of the first month or two of the season in the East's driver seat, doing many of the same things that made them so enjoyable the year before.
But around the midpoint of the season, the luster finally wore off. Kyle Lowry broke down, the Raps' offense became stagnant and ineffective, and the team made the playoffs, but almost by default in a weak East.
This summer, the team re-upped on talent in a big way. The biggest splash was signing DeMarre Carroll away from the Atlanta Hawks. They also let Lou Williams walk via free agency, but nabbed Corey Joseph to a deal with a price tag that insinuates he will be a major part of the game plan.
With a healthy, and newly trim Lowry, the offense should be as good as new -- especially with Carroll's shooting ability. The hope is that Jonas Valanciunas will continue to develop into a go-to option offensively. DeMar DeRozan, with discipline, can thrive in his current role, and Patrick Patterson is a steady option at the 4. The reserve unit, with Bismack Biyombo, Joseph, James Johnson and Terrence Ross is certainly serviceable.
But if Lowry can return to 2013-14 form and sustain it over a full season, the Raptors should be fine. They'll undoubtedly win their division -- a historically weak one. How far they'll go beyond that will depend on the rest of the team adding up to more than the sum of its parts.
More from AOL.com:
AOL.com's Preseason NBA Power Rankings: 13. Milwaukee Bucks
AOL.com's Preseason NBA Power Rankings: 14. Washington Wizards
AOL.com's Preseason NBA Power Rankings: 15. Utah Jazz