4. A new era of basketball in Toronto.
A new era of basketball begins in Toronto this season with the departure of Kyle Lowry. A sign and trade deal with a return of Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa from Miami for the greatest Raptor of all-time signals a new beginning and youth movement for the Raptors.
With Lowry playing for the Heat, the reigns of leadership are firmly in the grasp of players like Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby. Youngsters like Scottie Barnes are also in line to make an impact.
This season begins a youth movement for the Raptors
While Miami has built a big three around Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and now Lowry, Toronto looks to integrate Barnes, sophomores Malachi Flynn, and Precious Achiuwa. Barnes, the No. 4 selection at the entry Draft this year, will draw the attention of the Raptors’ fanbase with his intensity and competitive drive.
He has shown an ability to influence the flow of a game even without scoring with his ballhandling, decision-making, rebounding, and defensive acumen. For example, during Toronto’s 92-76 Summer League victory over the Houston Rockets, Barnes shot 2-9 but blocked five shots, grabbed four rebounds, and dished out three assists.
His ability to stay focused and not let a poor shooting night influence the rest of his game is impressive. Ultimately, it will be compelling if Barnes can outduel Jalen Suggs, who he leapfrogged in the draft.
In that same Summer League contest, Achiuwa had 19 points, five rebounds, two steals, and blocks also showed an ability to fill up the stat sheet. Buried on the bench as a rookie in Miami behind Bam Adebayo, Achiuwa has an opportunity to solidify himself as one of the best new crops of big men in the NBA with Toronto.
Now a sophomore, Flynn showed how dominant a scorer he could be during the Summer League. He is likely to get a shot at being VanVleet’s primary backup.
In his nine years as a Raptor, Lowry leaves a legacy in which he holds several team records that even the current young talent may never achieve, but their time is now.
Lowry is sure to elicit a raucous extended-standing ovation from the crowd at the Scotiabank Arena if he’s in Miami’s lineup when they visit Toronto on February 3, 2022. Still, Toronto has a lot of electric talent to keep their fanbase from reminiscing over the old days for too long.