The Toronto Raptors finished the season with a 27-45 record, their worst season since 2012. This record doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story for this Raptors team. They had to deal with a number of issues such as COVID-19, never truly playing at home, and ultimately deciding to tank the rest of the season.
The decision to tank helped the Raptors jump up to the No. 4 selection where they picked Scottie Barnes, a surprising pick to some.
The Raptors still had a good offseason, bringing back guys like Chris Boucher and Gary Trent Jr, while also making the most of Kyle Lowry’s departure by acquiring Precious Achiuwa and Goran Dragic. The best move for Toronto, however, wasn’t a trade or a player signing. It was their move to re-sign Masai Ujiri and lock him up for the foreseeable future.
It’s widely expected that Toronto will bounce back this season, and at least be playing meaningful games down the stretch. With the Siakam trade rumors being shut down by both Bobby Webster and Masai Ujiri, it looks like Toronto should return back to their winning ways.
A repeat of last season would be a catastrophe for Toronto, but an unlikely one should things go their way. With a full training camp in place, the possibility of returning home, and continued development, the Raptors should be better than their 12th place finish in the East last season.
Here are 3 fellow Eastern Conference competitors, barring any unforeseen circumstances, that Toronto should be better than in 2021-22.
3 Eastern Conference teams the Raptors will be better then.
3. Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets fell short of the playoffs last season after getting smoked by 27 points in the play-in game vs. Indiana in a game that was never particularly close. Fortunately for Charlotte, they have a solid young core led by Miles Bridges, P.J Washington, and Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball.
The Hornets continue to add to their core by drafting James Bouknight and Kai Jones while also signing Kelly Oubre in free agency. The Hornets will no doubt be a fun team to watch this season with the number of springy athletes they have on their team.
The Hornets could see some regression this season.
Charlotte saw some of their top free agents depart this off-season such as Devonte’ Graham, Malik Monk, and Cody Zeller. In doing so, the Hornets could be expecting an immediate impact from their two rookies.
Bouknight could take over Graham’s role almost immediately with the scoring ability he brings right away. However, with the departure of Zeller, this leaves a big hole at the center spot and could put Charlotte in a bad situation if Kai Jones gets a bulk of those minutes.
Jones is a talented and athletic big man, but is undoubtedly raw. He could take a couple of seasons to develop and expecting him to come in and make an instant impact would be an unfair expectation.
Charlotte was holding a playoff position comfortably for much of the season, but a late-season injury for Gordon Hayward effectively ended the Hornets season. The Hornets’ chances of success could hinge on Hayward’s health which hasn’t been the same since suffering a gruesome leg injury in 2018.
The Raptors were 2-1 in their season series against the Hornets. Even in their lone loss to Charlotte, the Raptors were missing key players such as VanVleet, Siakam, and Anunoby, and managed to only lose by 10 to a healthy Hornets lineup.