Raptors midseason awards: Which players have stood out?

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 09: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 09: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /
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Gary Trent Jr, Toronto Raptors
TORONTO, ON – JANUARY 7: Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors are now halfway through the 2021-22 season. Considering all of the hoops that this team has had to jump through and all of the obstacles they have overcome this season, the fact that such a young team is competing for a postseason spot is quite impressive.

The 21-20 Raptors have been buoyed by names like Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam making All-Star pushes while Scottie Barnes continues his Rookie of the Year chase. The lack of a bench is a bit concerning, but it hasn’t stopped Toronto from pulling off some impressive wins this season.

The midway point of the season could be a good time for this item to recalibrate and look at the state of this roster. Which players have stood out on such a crowded roster? Which ones have been so bad that rookies have passed them over in the rotation due to their ineffectiveness?

Let’s take stock of where the Raptors are at so far. A few players that have put together seasons worthy of some hypothetical awards to be added to their imaginary trophy case. The larger media might not give this team the time of day, but we’ll shower this team with the praise they deserve.

Who won the Toronto Raptors midseason awards?

Most Improved: Gary Trent Jr.

Trent’s scoring average with Toronto this season is almost identical to what he provided in his first brief stint with the Raptors last year. He still wins the Most Improved award because of the steps forward he has taken when it comes to being efficient on offense and more effective defensively.

Trent is near the top of the league in deflections and steals per game, and his effort on-ball has been much better than last season. Very rarely in professional sports does a player go from near the very bottom of the league in one particular area to the Top 10 in that same field one year later, but Trent’s defensive turnaround has been that stunning.

Gary Trent Jr. has taken a step forward for the Toronto Raptors.

On offense, Trent has been as sharp as ever despite a reduced volume. Trent is making 42% of his shots and 37% of his 3-pointers. Without a ton of knockdown shooters on this team, Toronto is incredibly dependent on his ability to rain shots from deep down on unwitting defenses.

The Most Improved voters will typically just look at the largest increase in points per game and hand the award to the player who made the biggest leap. Trent, who turns 23 today, has clearly taken a step forward, as he is a quality starter on both ends of the floor who will continue fine-tuning his overall game.