Next up in our “Seasons in Review” series, we take a look at Raptors Uprising GC, who made a remarkable comeback in the regular season before leaving the playoffs on a disappointing note.
Check out the latest installment of this series, where Will Beverina discussed the capabilities of Wizards DG and how they might be even more dangerous going forward.
Current roster: Kenny, AllHailTrey
Protections: Kenny, AllHailTrey
Offseason transactions: None
Draft picks: 1st round (15th overall), 2nd (35th), 3rd (49th), 4th (67th)
The Good: The Raptors looked down and out after an excruciating schedule, but the team won their final five games of the season and steamed to a 7-1 record in their last 8 games. The team found an unparalleled balance between shot-creating slasher Kenny and secondary ballhandlers, and AllHailTrey developed into one of the league’s premier defensive stretch fours. Their players proved versatile, with hometown guy Yusuf_Scarbz shifting to shooting guard and sixth man KingQuai becoming a potent pick-and-roll partner for Kenny. They beat future Finals runner-up Heat Check Gaming in a dramatic Week 12 matchup to clinch the 4th overall playoff seed.
The Bad: The team wasn’t particularly good before the patch, their difficult schedule notwithstanding. The Uprising lived and died by the three, winning their games by splashing treys and losing badly when their shooting was off. Their strength in the regular season didn’t translate to tournament play, as RUGC finished 2-4 in tournaments, including an upset as No. 2 seed in the TICKET (at the hands of eventual champions Knicks Gaming). Consequently, the team fell apart in the first round of the playoffs, falling by double digits to a Cavs Legion GC team whom they had smashed by 22 points three weeks prior.
The Good: The Raptors are well prepared for whatever arrives in 2019. Kenny and AllHailTrey both possess skillsets that translate well to the new game and to versions of the league build corresponding to pre- and post-patch gameplay. The Raptors also return all of their draft picks, which are fairly high despite the Raptors not being a lottery team. Also, the team will return to the remarkable Bell FIBE house, which I can personally confirm is terrific. More time between the draft and the season will help the team eliminate all but the most persistent of visa issues, which may have contributed to 2018’s slow start.
The Bad: They might lose coach OneThroughFive to a player’s roster spot elsewhere. Coach Ogi helped propel the Raptors to the playoffs, and so losing him would leave a gaping hole at the coaching position that couldn’t be filled until the final draft pool was revealed. Kenny isn’t necessarily a true point guard, either, and the Raptors will need someone on the all-important lock or lock-like build to force turnovers. They weren’t particularly good at getting takeaways last season, and not adding a piece capable of improving those numbers won’t exactly be the remedy.
The Big Question
Which Raptors Uprising team will show up in 2019?
Which iteration of the Raptors will show up to play in 2019, the 1-5 team or the 7-1 squad?
There are certainly arguments for both, patch notwithstanding. Will they be the flat team that wasn’t set on a lineup if Kenny is forced to play point guard? Will the qualities that made AllHailTrey so valuable on the 2018 build be as important in the first half of 2019? The offensive balance that the Raptors had found slowed and ground to a halt against the Cavs in the playoffs. Can they get it back?
Or perhaps they’ll be able to take that balance into next season, with more experience. Perhaps a full season with AllHailTrey stopping fools on defense and splashing threes on offense will prove to be the way to ward off a 1-5 start. The schedule won’t be as difficult.
Either way, did I mention that the Bell FIBE house is really, really nice?