Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors are projected by many to lose more games than they will win while finishing in last place in the Atlantic Division. Such pessimism is not unwarranted, as Nick Nurse and Fred VanVleet have both found gainful employment elsewhere.
To make matters worse for Toronto, they have the misfortune of playing in a division that is widely regarded as either the best or second-best group in the league. Every team in that division has a legitimate chance of making it to the postseason his year.
The Raptors may not be able to go punch-for-punch with contenders like the Celtics and new-look 76ers, but they shouldn’t assume this season is a lost cause. With how the roster is shaping up, Toronto might be able to exploit a few critical weaknesses on these teams.
The Raptors have some slight advantages over all four teams in the Atlantic Division. Darko Rajakovic and the rest of the team will go through some growing pains, but they can pull off some wins if they can identify these mismatches and exploit them in head-to-head matchups.
1 advantage the Toronto Raptors have over every Atlantic team.
Knicks: Frontcourt Depth
The Knicks have a standout power forward in Julius Randle, and some might justify their lack of surrounding talent as the product of keeping a spot open for a disgruntled star. That’s all well and good, but Toronto might have a better collection of bigs next season.
We’re still waiting for the Mitchell Robinson breakout, as he appears to have flatlined as a player. Isaiah Hartenstein is very limited, Jericho Sims is a Robinson-esque dunker, and Obi Toppin is now with the Pacers. The backup power forward spot behind Randle is still unsettled.
The Toronto Raptors can match up with the Knicks.
Toronto has Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, and Jakob Poeltl all ready to deploy in the starting lineup at the same time, all while names like Precious Achiuwa and Jalen McDaniels supplement on the bench. If Christian Koloko takes a step forward, is it unreasonable to say he could reach Hartenstein’s level?
The Raptors have been able to hang with the Knicks and take them down quite frequently in the last two years due to both their collection of star scorers and their comfort with pounding the ball in the paint. Can Randle and Robinson be enough to slow them down?