3. Canadian talent will have a significant impact
The Raptors will employ three Canadians, and at least two of them will significantly impact the team.
First is Chris Boucher, who Raptors fans are pretty familiar with. The wiry 6-9 forward is a former champion in the G-League affiliate the Raptors 905 and with the main roster in Toronto in 2019. He has turned an undrafted status into a viable career with longevity due to his hustle, energy, athleticism, and development of a three-point shot.
Last season Boucher was 38.3% accurate on long-balls and upped his production per game to 13.6 points, 1.9 blocks, and 6.7 rebounds per game. With all the new and young faces in the lineup, Boucher could see his minutes per game creep up from the 24.2 he received in 2021.
Khem Birch was acquired late in the season and only played in 19 games, starting in 17. He scored 11.9 points and hauled in an average of 7.6 rebounds per game in just over 30 minutes per game.
After resigning with the Raptors for three years and around $20 million, he will get an entire season to contribute. While Achiuwa tries to become the team’s center of the future, Birch is a solid option for the time being.
The unknown factor surrounding the Raptors trio of Canadian talent is Dalano Banton. He is a big guard at 6-9 who was able to show off his skills during Summer League play after the Raptors selected him in the second round of the 2021 NBA Draft.
His major weakness, for the time being, is his three-point shooting. When in college at Nebraska, he was consistent only 23.7% of the time on long shots.
However, with all the guards ahead of him to handle point guard duties, Banton will have plenty of opportunities to develop a consistent shooting stroke in practice. Raptors management finds talent from all over the world, and in the last few years, Canada has produced some fine NBA-caliber type players right in the Raptors’ backyard.