The Toronto Raptors chose not to tear everything down to the studs and begin a rebuild, which could be taken as a sign that they believe in what Scottie Barnes and the rest of this roster can do. That doesn’t mean the rest of the league shares that enthusiasm.
The Raptors were given just one nationally televised game and three NBA TV side attractions on the schedule, which could be taken as a sign that Adam Silver doesn’t view Toronto as a team that will be particularly exciting or successful.
The Raptors will once again be thrust into the role of plucky underdogs, as the national basketball landscape seems to be dismissing their funky roster as completely inconsequential. Bleacher Report has them closer to the No. 1 overall pick than sneaking into the playoffs as a low seed.
B/R projected the Raptors to go 36-46 in 2023-24, which is right on par with their over-under projection of 36.5 victories. Rather than citing an improved Eastern Conference as one reason the Raptors could decline, they instead looked at the loss of VanVleet as a critical error that would hurt this team.
Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes can help the team exceed 36 wins
While B/R is correct in acknowledging that losing VanVleet for nothing in free agency was a poor move from Masai Ujiri, they cited his 3-point percentage as a reason the offense will take a step back. VanVleet’s poor shooting inside and outside the arc contributed to the Raptors’ struggles last season.
Even though VanVleet is gone, Barnes will likely take some sort of step in the right direction, Pascal Siakam remains one of the best forwards in the game, and both OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. are back on this team. Darko Rajakovic coming in should make the offense more created.
Rather than leaning on the starters for an inordinate amount of minutes, the Raptors added a veteran scorer in Dennis Schroder and an enticing young shooter in Gradey Dick. Toronto has some roster construction issues, but they’ve made an attempt to get back on the right track.
If Barnes thrives, they should have no issue accomplishing this.
The skepticism around the Raptors is warranted, as some feel they didn’t make enough big changes with the roster after their mediocre 2022-23 campaign. However, a strong 1-2 punch of Barnes and Siakam supplemented by high-end role players could make 36 wins a breeze.