Grading every Toronto Raptors player after encouraging first half

OTORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 13: Pascal Siakam #43 and Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
OTORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 13: Pascal Siakam #43 and Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /
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Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
PORTLAND, OREGON – JANUARY 11: Fred VanVleet #23 and Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors ended the first part of the 2021-22 regular season at 32-25 while sending Fred VanVleet to the All-Star game and Pascal Siakam to the doorstep of his second nomination. With the deluge of factors working against them, having this record is an impressive accomplishment.

The Raptors are an extremely young team with one true point guard and no true centers. They have been playing a large chunk of home games with little or no fans, and they’ve very rarely had all five of their projected starters in the lineup alongside one another. Still, they are the No. 7 seed in the East.

Toronto was expected to be stuck in the lottery due to their tough division and unusual roster, but they’ve been able to shatter those pessimistic projections and establish themselves as a viable playoff opponent. Several key players have outperformed even the most extreme expectations.

The Raptors have seen some players become established stars in this league while others have struggled to get a consistent foothold in the lineup. How have these players stacked up so far this season?

Grading all Toronto Raptors players after the first half of 2021-22.

Fred VanVleet

VanVleet has been dominant this season, earning an All-Star nod thanks to his dynamite performances. An elite scorer and shooter with terrific defense, VanVleet is such a boost for this team that their numbers go in the tank whenever he leaves the floor. He deserves every ounce of praise coming his way.

Grade: A+

Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet has been dominant on both ends.

Gary Trent Jr.

In the course of just one season, Trent went from an intriguing young shooter with defensive issues to a two-way standout that has proven capable of averaging 30 points per night when VanVleet is inactive. Trent has cemented his status as a member of Masai Ujiri’s long-term vision in Toronto.

Grade: A

Dalano Banton

Banton remains a negative presence on the offensive end at the moment thanks to his lack of tremendous offense, but his energy and transition skill have made him the de facto backup point guard. We’re witnessing Banton’s development in real-time, as Nick Nurse wants him to take an active role in stabilizing the bench.

Grade: B-

Malachi Flynn

Flynn had a spot as VanVleet’s backup gift-wrapped, but he’s done nothing with that opportunity. His shooting has stagnated and he’s received multiple assignments to the G League. Flynn is not guaranteed a third season in Toronto despite Ujiri’s warm overtures when discussing him. 

Grade: C-