3 ways the Raptors could lean towards tanking this season

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 05: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Brian Fluharty/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 05: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Brian Fluharty/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Raptors appear to be gunning for yet another postseason charge this season, as Masai Ujiri chose not to tear this roster apart and instead spend money to reinforce some of their shortcomings. Despite a 41-41 record last year, Ujiri is expecting wins and major improvements.

The Raptors decided to trade control of their first-round pick in 2024 to the San Antonio Spurs to acquire Jakob Poeltl. Unless that pick lands in the top six, the selection will be conveyed to San Antonio. If the Raptors don’t make the playoffs, they will have blown a chance to use a lottery pick.

Ujiri and the rest of the front office have been resistant to completely blowing the roster up, as the Raptors have refused multiple franchise-altering trades. While the organization believes in its players and what Rajakovic could do with this group, contingency plans need to be made.

If the Raptors start to lean into one of these three movements at any point in the 2023-24 season, this could signal that Toronto has decided to abandon any chance of making the postseason. The rebuild can finally begin in earnest after a few years of mediocre production.

3 ways the Toronto Raptors could tank in 2023.

3. Starting Scottie Barnes at point guard

This is a strange one, as Barnes will likely be the starting point guard anyway in a move that makes all the sense in the world. Barnes should have the ball placed in his hands while FIBA World Cup star Dennis Schroder goes to the bench to become the team’s Sixth Man.

Why is this included here? Well, this is truly a win-win situation. Even if the Raptors are struggling, they can let Barnes experiment at the point guard, albeit with a much longer leash. If the future is all about Barnes, a Raptors team that is out of the playoff picture needs to let Scottie figure out what he can and can’t do.

Scottie Barnes must be empowered by the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors drafted Barnes to be a facilitator and scorer in equal parts, and the Raptors need to ensure he can fulfill those goals no matter what the team’s record ends up as. If the team starts falling off the face of the Earth, yet Barnes starts to come into his own, Toronto should take that trade-off.

Barnes has shown plenty of positives in his tenure with the Raptors, but his true offensive potential (thanks partially to Nick Nurse and his half-court offense) remains unknown. The only way to find out what he can do is to lean in and let him cook.