There are tons of negative storm clouds gathering over the Toronto Raptors right now. With the team fresh off a 41-41 season and only a handful of the players who helped take this team to championship glory still percolating around on the roster, few know what to expect next season.
While pessimism is reigning supreme, those who choose to take an optimistic look at this team have some legitimate reasons for such a viewpoint. This team has plenty of young players that could thrive now that Nick Nurse is out of town and Darko Rajakovic is in the building.
Replacing Fred VanVleet may seem like a daunting task, but those who believe in what Masai Ujiri is trying to build will likely assume that he has a plan in place to ensure that this team keeps chugging along just fine. The Raptors might surprise plenty who underestimate their unusual lineup.
Both Raptors and those across the NBA that have tuned Toronto out could be surprised by how this team performs if they really hit the ground running. Look for one of these three stat predictions to come true if everything comes together according to plan.
3 Toronto Raptors predictions that could come true in 2023
3. Scottie Barnes averages 18+ PPG and 7+ APG
The Raptors are going to ride Barnes until the wheels fall off this season, as everything they do in the next few months is built almost entirely around making Barnes look good and maximizing his talent. This year could be when he finally steps on the accelerator.
The loss of VanVleet will ensure that Barnes gets more opportunities to prove that he is a player worthy of being built around to such an extensive degree. A tremendous passer who will likely take over as the primary offensive generator, Barnes’ assist numbers will skyrocket.
Scottie Barnes will take a step forward for the Toronto Raptors.
Barnes may not be an amazing shooter, but some small improvements would still do wonders for his overall offensive game. When paired with more physical maturation and the confidence he needs to take on such an important role without VanVleet, 18 points per game might not seem too outlandish.
Barnes’ finishing at the rim has been an effective tool during his first two seasons in the league, but he can only reach these lofty heights by adding more skills to his game. With a coach like Rajakovic coming from an offensive background, he might mesh better with him than Nurse did.