The new season is just getting underway, but Toronto Raptors’ NBA championship hopes are already hanging by a thread. They made all of the changes needed to win their first NBA title last year, then they executed their game plan to perfection while everyone around them crumbled. Unfortunately for the Raptors, they couldn’t keep the gang together for 2019-20, and they’re not even considered top contenders to retain their championship.

But maybe they should be. With the new season on our doorstep, this guide will show you how to bet on the Raptors as they get ready to defend their hard-won title. We’ll start by taking a look at what went right last year, then we’ll focus on the challenges they’ll face in what promises to be an exciting campaign in the North.

Season Recap + Offseason Moves/Storylines

Last year’s title run began when Toronto let head coach Dwane Casey go and replaced him with rookie Nick Nurse. Casey was named NBA Coach of the Year for his efforts in 2017-18, but the Raptors needed something better – and Nurse was the right man for the job. Then the bombshell trade with the San Antonio Spurs: Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl.

Despite winning his second title and his second Finals MVP award, Leonard decided to leave for the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency. This was expected to some degree, but it still put a huge dent in their title chances; Toronto Raptors odds are no longer a hot commodity, even less so after Green followed Leonard out the door and joined the Los Angeles Lakers. Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were sharp free-agent signings by Raptors president Masai Ujiri, but they won’t replace what Leonard and Green provided last year.

Bet on the Raptors 2019-20 Win Total

They don’t have to. Thanks to lowered expectations, Toronto Raptors betting should be profitable again this year – at least during the regular season. At press time, Toronto’s over/under for wins during the 2019-20 campaign is set at 46.5, with the Over priced at –135. The talent is there on paper to win around 46 games; it’s the upside that makes the Over worth a look – in theory.

Start with Pascal Siakam. Named the NBA’s Most Improved Player, Siakam (19.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per 36 minutes) could easily have made the All-Star Game based on his performance level. He’ll have the opportunity to carry more of the load this year with Leonard gone, although he’s not the same kind of player – Siakam was like Scottie Pippen to Leonard’s Michael Jordan. Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby are two more quality young pieces who can take the next step in their development this year.

Of course, you still have veterans Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, all of whom contributed mightily to Toronto’s title run. But this is where things get tricky. Gasol and Ibaka are on expiring contracts, while Lowry will be a free agent in 2021 after signing a one-year extension. If things don’t work out for the Raptors early on, Ujiri might trade all three veterans by the deadline, and that would clearly benefit anyone who bets the Under.

Will the Raptors Make the Playoffs?

The answer goes hand-in-hand with the dynamic described above. If Toronto wins 46 games, which would already be 12 fewer than last year, they’ll almost certainly make the playoffs as a middling seed and pay out at –600. Even if they fall a little short of 46 wins, NBA odds say they’ll probably make it in. The Detroit Pistons (with Casey as their head coach) needed to go only 41-41 last year to earn the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

But what if things go south early? If Lowry, Gasol and Ibaka are taken out of the mix, that would leave the Raptors with a very young team based around VanVleet, Siakam and Anunoby. Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson are useful defensive players who need help mending their broken offense. Chris Boucher has promise at center, but he’s still untested and reed-thin, and he’s already 26 years old. Norman Powell? He’s on the cusp of becoming a reliable, league-average player on the wing, but he’s not there yet – and could easily fall back. There might be some value in taking No at +375 with non-playoff teams like the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls expected to improve in the East.

Raptors 2019-2020 Futures

Let’s assume for now that the Raptors keep all their veteran players and make another run at the title. Do they have value at +550 to win the Atlantic Division? The Philadelphia 76ers are –160 favourites, and it’s hard to argue with Al Horford replacing Jimmy Butler, and Ben Simmons adding some much-needed shooting to his arsenal. Toronto also hasto get past the Boston Celtics (+400), who still have some talent left in the cupboard despite Horford’s departure and Kemba Walker replacing Kyrie Irving at point guard.

How about the Raptors at +1100 to win the East? And by winning, we mean representing the East in the NBA Finals? This might be a good value pick, especially compared to the Brooklyn Nets at +1000. The conference as a whole has grown weaker since last year, and the Raptors have already shown everyone how to defend against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks (+155).

Taking the next step and defending their title might be a bit much to ask now that Leonard is gone. But at +3500, Toronto’s NBA vegas odds are pretty tasty. Again, they’re in a much better short-term position than the Nets (+2500) – who almost certainly won’t have Kevin Durant this year – or the Celtics (+2500) for that matter. And while the Western Conference is top-heavy with the Los Angeles Lakers (+300) and Los Angeles Clippers (+333), both teams already have injury concerns with their star players. Load management helped the Raptors win last year while their over-extended opponents broke down. It could happen again this year.

Raptors Against the Spread and Total

If you’re looking for Toronto Raptors betting tips, taking them on a game-by-game basis is our best advice for 2019-20. Before Leonard’s arrival, the Raptors were one of the most profitable teams in the league, the ultimate “small-market” team ignored by US bettors even while Ujiri was building a viable contender. Leonard’s load management, plus Lowry’s extended injury absence, kept Toronto in the red last year at 38-44 ATS. They should return to the black now that Leonard and Green are both in LA.

Taking things one game at a time will definitely help you get around the possibility that Toronto will hit the reset button in the middle of the season. But even if they do jettison their veterans, the Raptors should still have some betting value; their scouting, drafting and development under Ujiri has been incredible, and newcomers Matt Thomas, Terence Davis and Dewan Hernandez might be able to help the Raptors right out of the box if called upon.

Totals are getting more and more attention on the NBA odds board, and the Raptors made the Over profitable at 44-35-3 last year, but you might want to consider the Under for 2019-20. Gasol, Ibaka and Anunoby provided most of their value on defence last year, and as mentioned, both Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson are challenged when it comes to scoring. We’ll see how things gel in the North as the season wears on. Stay on top of the situation by checking out the latest odds and analysis here at Bodog Sportsbook, and enjoy betting on the reigning champions as they start their next chapter.

*Check out our NBA odds for more Toronto Raptors betting all season long!