Masai Ujiri and the rest of the Toronto Raptors front office seem to be very bullish on the potential of this group, as they kept many of the big names on the roster together. Around them, there was a good deal of change following a bitterly disappointing end to their season.
The Raptors fired Nick Nurse after a 41-41 campaign culminating in a humiliating postseason exit against the Chicago Bulls. It turns out that choking away a giant lead at home and missing the playoffs just one year after giving Joel Embiid’s 76ers everything they could handle is not the best way to stick around.
Toronto is moving on with a new era that is led by Darko Rajakovic on the sidelines and Scottie Barnes on the court. Perhaps no team in the league is as volatile as the Raptors right now. They could either contend for a playoff series victory or end up in the Ron Holland sweepstakes.
While there are many factors working in Toronto’s favor as they try to improve upon the disappointment of last season, many of the same problems that turned last season into a hellscape of bad luck are still there. Will they actually take steps forward from last season?
2 reasons Raptors will be better next season, 2 reasons they won’t
Better: New additions
Masai Ujiri did not wait very long to replace Fred VanVleet when he walked out the door, as former Lakers guard Dennis Schroder was signed on a two-year contract. Schroder has been a double-digit scorer in every season except his rookie year, giving Toronto some punch in the rotation.
While Schroder may not be as good as VanVleet, adding a proven veteran scorer with experience being an incredibly productive player off the bench will always be welcomed. After years of inadequate backcourt depth, Schroder is a big step in the right direction.
The Toronto Raptors added many new players.
While new signing Jalen McDaniels saw his playing time slip last season, he’s proven his worth as a defender and shooter at this level. While Rajakovic might not adhere to the Vision 6-9 philosophy as dogmatically as Nurse did, having another young, switchable wing isn’t a bad thing.
Gradey Dick has already shown the scoring touch that made him a star at Kansas, and he profiles as someone who should shoot at or above 40% from 3-point range regularly in the pros. If the coaching staff gives him a long runway, he could make a huge impact this season.