Toronto Raptors: 4 X-factors that could make or break 2021 season

TAMPA, FLORIDA - APRIL 21: OG Anunoby #3 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - APRIL 21: OG Anunoby #3 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /
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Precious Achiuwa, Toronto Raptors
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 12: Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

3. Points in the paint

Points in the paint are one of several categories of points scored that play a significant role in an NBA team’s success in the win-loss column. When considering their three 2021 draftees and undrafted rookie Justin Champagnie, only David Johnson came to the team as a consistent long-range shooter based on his college stats.

While the organization works with Barnes, Achiuwa, and others on the roster to develop a consistent perimeter stroke, these players are good enough ballhandlers and athletes to get into the lane and finish at the rim.

The Toronto Raptors need to score more points in the paint in 2021.

In 2021, Toronto was fifth-worst in the NBA scoring points in the paint at 43.6 per game. With the makeup of the roster, this number has to rise in 2022. What could help in this category is Birch and Achiuwa, as they provide a better target off of pick-and roll0plays to catch lobs and passes around the basket for easy dunks and layups.

It is a decidedly better frontcourt, if still a bit undersized, than the options the team employed upfront last season.

The team’s guards need to involve their bigs in the pick roll if the team’s points per game average are to rise above the 111.3 it averaged in 2021. In their five preseason games, the Raptors scored 224 points in the paint for a per-game average of 44.8.

This is slightly better than last season’s average but ideally, should be closer to 50 per game. There are plenty of advantages to scoring around the basket as they are easier more consistent shots to make.

Accounting for the Raptors youth, speed, ball-handling, athleticism and physical length getting into the paint and finishing should be a priority this year.