3 Raptors who have improved the most in 2021-22 season

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 20: Scottie Barnes #4 and Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 20: Scottie Barnes #4 and Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors, Gary Trent Jr
CLEVELAND, OHIO – MARCH 06: Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors had their worst season in a decade last year, as the combination of uncommon injury luck and their homecourt situation made it difficult to sustain any positive momentum. This year, Toronto has seen a much better return on its investment.

The Raptors are in a position to potentially escape the play-in tournament and earn the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference. Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam have put up sterling efforts this year, but Toronto wouldn’t be in this position without some of their key role players stepping up.

Young players are getting better as the season progresses, role players are stepping up into elevated roles due to injuries, and the starters alongside VanVleet and Siakam are doing everything in their power to support those two standouts. Look at where this team started and how dominant they’ve been in the last few weeks.

These 3 Raptors have made some genuinely encouraging strides over the last few months, proving that Nick Nurse is still one of the best in the league when it comes to turning raw players into tangible products. There’s no reason to assume the upward ascension for these players won’t continue.

3 Toronto Raptors players who have improved in 2021-22.

3. SG Gary Trent Jr.

Forget what you’ve seen in the last few weeks and just look at the totality of what he’s done this season. Trent looks like a much more effective player than he did during his time with the Blazers. Nurse went on a mission to make him a two-way player, and he appears to be well on his way to accomplishing that.

Not only is Trent averaging 1.8 steals per game while ranking near the top of the league in deflections, but he is a very capable on-ball defender. His ability to get hot from 3-point range is still there, as his 18.1 points per game show the type of player he can be on the offensive side of the ball.

Gary Trent Jr. is giving the Toronto Raptors more than he gave Portland.

With OG Anunoby missing huge chunks of the season and Toronto going into the year knowing that they were going to lack consistent 3-point shooting out of the gate, they placed a ton of trust and faith in Trent and his ability to make some impactful shots.

Portland was just not a good place for him. With Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum taking up all of his shots and the coaching staff never committing to building a solid defense, Trent was not getting the support he needed. With a defined role and defensive-minded coaching staff, Trent has taken a huge step forward.