The Toronto Raptors were expected by most of the league to be a fringe play-in team likely headed towards the lottery in 2021-22. However, thanks to the rapid development of Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam’s All-NBA season, the Raptors managed to pull off an absurd 48 wins.
The Raptors are without question one of the most unique matchups in the league, as a team with this many outstanding defenders and quality isolation scorers presents a challenge for even the hardiest of teams on both sides of the ball. No wonder they snuck up on people.
Toronto can’t afford to play the underdog card this year, however. The cat is out of the bag. The league knows the star power that is currently incubating in Toronto’s developmental system. As such, big things are expected from them this season.
NBA.com listed the Raptors as the fifth-ranked team in the East, will all four teams who finished ahead of them last year retaining their prized spots. While the Miami Heat have taken a slight downward turn, it looks like the East in 2022-23 will look very similar to what we saw last season.
The Toronto Raptors are considered a top Eastern team.
Toronto has some issues that could prevent them from reaching its lofty projections. The lack of quality perimeter shooting at key areas on the roster is still something that the team should be aware of. No player on the team had an effective field goal percentage above the league average of 53.2%, while every other team had at least two.
Still, Toronto is fresh off posting one of the best turnover differentials in over a decade and having a top ten defense for the fourth time in five seasons. Toronto is bringing back so much of last year’s roster that players who accounted for 96% of the minutes last year are coming back.
In the offseason, the Raptors brought back both Thad Young and Chris Boucher while signing Otto Porter Jr. away from the Warriors. That increased skill on the bench will be vital if Toronto wants to establish itself as a team that needs to be taken seriously.
Toronto is in the weird position of being good enough to clearly avoid being stuck in the play-in tournament, yet young and inexperienced enough to be stuck outside the top four in the East. This season is going to tell the league plenty about Toronto’s viability as a long-term contender.