The Toronto Raptors sent Fred VanVleet to the All-Star game last year after a breakout season that put him among the league’s top point guards. Between VanVleet and the dynamic frontcourt duo of Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes, it’s no wonder Toronto won 48 games last season.
Even if you remove VanVleet from the picture, Toronto is a loaded squad that should be able to compete for a postseason spot. Siakam, Barnes, and Toronto’s collection of role players will be enough to flatten most of the Eastern Conference as they all get one year wiser.
Assuming that all of the young guns take a step forward, and assuming that their improvement is reciprocated by Toronto, they may end up sneaking one more player into that elite tier. After names like Jarrett Allen and Darius Garland made it, there’s no reason that the Raptors can’t send multiple players.
Even if VanVleet and Siakam don’t end up making it to the All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, one of these three players could get hot and get some deserved recognition. With how egalitarian Toronto’s offense can be, all of these players have the potential to become nigh-elite scorers.
3 Toronto Raptors who could be first-time All-Stars.
3. Gary Trent Jr.
After a summer spent percolating around the rumor mill thanks to the ceaseless Kevin Durant trade rumors, it’s easy to forget that Trent is fresh off averaging 18.3 points per game and serving as one of the main perimeter threats on a 48-win team. His defense went from unwatchable to impressive in just one season.
Which Trent stat is more impressive? Is it that he averaged a new career-high in points per game despite being third in shots taken? Perhaps it’s his 1.7 steals per game? His deflections? Or maybe it’s the fact that he had a string of five consecutive 30-point games in a stretch where Toronto beat the Heat twice.
Gary Trent Jr. should improve for the Toronto Raptors.
While Toronto has plenty of mouths to feed, it would be the height of foolishness for them to look at a 23-year-old guard fresh off a career season and give him a reduced role. On a team that may have allowed him to have more offensive freedom, Trent could have easily averaged 20 points per game.
Making the All-Star team as a guard in the East is an absolute nightmare, but Trent might be able to sneak in if he gets a few lucky twists of fate. No one doubts his quality, and an All-Star season would be one heck of a way to parlay that quality into a nine-figure contract.