Toronto Raptors: The ideal Raptors starting five and bench

Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The 2021-22 NBA season is on the way, and for the Toronto Raptors, they’ll be looking to bounce back after a miserable 2020-21 season down in Tampa Bay. In order do to so, we might see a different Raptors lineup when compared to the dreck we had to collectively suffer through last season.

We’re now past the opening of NBA free agency and we already know where the majority of the free agents have landed. For the Raptors, they only really brought back a couple of current players, signed some depth pieces, and completed a sign and trade with Miami for Kyle Lowry.

With all the moving parts on this Raptors team, comes with a different starting lineup and bench heading into next season after what we were used to for the past couple of seasons.

With that said, here is how I see the Raptors starting five and bench potentially looking like for the 2021-22 NBA season.

What will the Toronto Raptors starting lineup look like?

New additions

From the start of the NBA draft and free agency until now, the Raptors have brought in and brought back a handful of players. Here is a list of all of the notable ones as of late.

  • Scottie Barnes (draft)
  • Dalano Banton (draft)
  • David Johnson (draft)
  • Gary Trent Jr. (re-signed)
  • Khem Birch (re-signed)
  • Sam Dekker (free agent)
  • Ishmail Wainright (free agent)
  • Goran Dragic (trade)
  • Precious Achiuwa (trade)

Departed players

Along with bringing in and bringing back some players, you’re going to have to let go of some of your current players as well. Here is another list of all the notable subtractions from the Toronto Raptors roster as of late.

  • Kyle Lowry (MIA)
  • DeAndre’ Bembry (BKN)
  • Rodney Hood (MIL)
  • Aron Baynes (FA)
  • Paul Watson (FA)

Potential starting five

Given the way that this roster is currently constructed, and accounting for the fact that Pascal Siakam will likely be out for the first chunk of the season, this looks like the best combination of players right now.

PG: Fred VanVleet

SG: Gary Trent Jr.

SF: OG Anunoby

PF: Chris Boucher (Pascal Siakam replacement due to injury)

C: Khem Birch

The starting five really shouldn’t be that hard to predict come opening night due to the fact that everyone here was a starter last season for the majority of the time, minus Birch. With VanVleet ready to take on a leadership role now that Lowry is gone, he will move over to point guard while Trent starts at shooting guard.

Boucher will be starting at the four for Siakam until he returns, with OG Anunoby returning to his traditional small forward spot and Birch back in the game at center.

Potential bench unit

Before we jump into a bench unit I think it’s only right we talk about Goran Dragic’s comments recently about the Raptors. As seen below, Dragic said the following… “Toronto is not my preferred destination. I have higher ambitions. We’ll see.”

You have to wonder if he will be back after these comments.

Bench: Goran Dragic, Malachi Flynn, Scottie Barnes, Chris Boucher, Precious Achiuwa

There are three guys that are brand new to the Raptors organization that will be handed a role coming off the bench in Dragic, Barnes, and Achiuwa. Toronto already knows what they have in Flynn and Boucher, and with another year of development and workouts, they’re just going to get better.

For Dragic, if he doesn’t end up being traded by Toronto, he’s easily a starter on some teams in the NBA, or he can be a legit Sixth Man and provide scoring and playmaking off the bench as well.

Barnes, who was just drafted fourth overall put on a show in his summer league debut for the Raptors and looks promising enough to be given some minutes off the start.

Lastly, Achiuwa, who was the centerpiece in the Lowry trade given his age and potential, will be given a hefty chunk of playing time come next season off the bench. A premium athlete with verticality and versatility, there is a ton to like about him

My starting five and bench unit

PG: Fred VanVleet

SG: Gary Trent Jr.

SF: OG Anunoby

PF: Pascal Siakam

C: Khem Birch

Bench: Goran Dragic (if not traded), Malachi Flynn, Scottie Barnes, Chris Boucher, and Precious Achiuwa

End of the Bench: Dalano Banton, David Johnson (2-way), Justin Champagnie (2-way), Ishmail Wainright, Sam Dekker

Obviously, with the losses of players like Lowry, Bembry, Hood, and others, the team is looking different. But that is no reason to think this team can’t compete for a playoff spot, as they’ll have a hunger to bounce back.

If the Raptors get to return home and play on their home court and in front of their home fans, that is a massive advantage for Toronto, and the homecoming for them is going to be special. They’ll welcome back a very solid roster with youth and depth all around.

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