After their worst record in over 9 seasons last year in Tampa, expectations for the Toronto Raptors dropped with the departure of Kyle Lowry and the additions of raw talents such as Scottie Barnes and Precious Achiuwa.
Even without Lowry leading the charge, a possible return to the playoffs remained a realistic goal, especially once the Raptors were approved to play at home in Toronto again. The Raptors will likely be competing for a play-in spot if the second half of the season is anything like the first half.
Masai Ujiri has done a phenomenal job during his Raptors tenure. In the 2021 offseason, he added to his resume with the selection of Rookie of the Year contender Scottie Barnes. Re-signing Gary Trent Jr. was one of the best moves Ujiri made in free agency over the last few years.
Although the Raptors have turned it around this season and look poised to make a push for the playoffs, the team still has noteworthy holes on the roster. These issues could cost the Raptors a handful of games down the stretch if Ujiri is unable to address them this season.
3 major holes on the Toronto Raptors roster.
3. Backup point guard
Coming into the season, the Raptors seemed set at the point guard position even with Lowry leaving. Fred VanVleet was handed the keys to the lead guard spot, and the backup point guard role looked solid with Malachi Flynn coming off a strong end to his rookie season and the addition of a savvy veteran guard in Goran Dragic.
VanVleet has been phenomenal as the starting point guard, putting up All-Star numbers. However, it’s been a polar opposite for the backup position, as the Raptors still look for answers.
After several DNP’s and appearing in just 5 games for Toronto, Dragic has stepped away from the team due to personal reasons, and according to Nick Nurse, likely won’t return.
Flynn hasn’t seen the court outside of garbage time for the first month of the season. He’s seen his minutes increase, but he’s not making the most out of his opportunities. He’s returned to his inefficient ways, averaging just 3 points per game while shooting just 35% from the field.
The Toronto Raptors need a backup PG better than Dalano Banton.
With the departure of Dragic and Flynn’s struggles, the Raptors turned to 2021 second-round pick Dalano Banton as their next best option. Standing at 6-9, Banton fits the mold of positionless basketball that the Raptors are moving into. For a second-round rookie, he’s played very well.
On just 12 minutes a night, he’s averaging 3.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. He’s shown good defense and is shooting an acceptable 42% from the field. However, he’s started to fall out of the rotation lately.
There still are times on the court that Banton shows why he was seen as a project as his offense hasn’t caught up to the NBA level, but with no other viable options for Toronto, they seem content with riding him out. Ujiri needs to get someone with a bit more experience.