The Toronto Raptors have to make some starting lineup changes in the 2023 NBA season, as Fred VanVleet departed for the Houston Rockets. To make matters even more confusing, Nick Nurse is no longer in town, and Darko Rajakovic is trying to install his own culture.
The Raptors have some chunks of the lineup set in stone. Pascal Siakam isn’t going anywhere, and Jakob Poeltl is locked in for the foreseeable future due to his four-year contract. Beyond that, Rajakovic has the potential to cause some chaos in the rotation.
The Raptors’ positionless approach to basketball in the last few years may have left them with some severe holes in their overall roster, but it could also help Rajakovic in his first season. This lineup allows for more creativity and experimentation than most first-year coaches are afforded.
Any one of these three starting lineups could be willed into reality by the Raptors. Expect Rajakovic to get creative early on, but picking one of these combinations should make for a fairly robust place to start for the neophyte head coach in a tough Eastern Conference.
3 potential Toronto Raptors starting lineup combinations in 2023
Option 1: The Point Scottie Lineup
PG: Scottie Barnes
SG: Gary Trent Jr.
SF: OG Anunoby
PF: Pascal Siakam
C: Jakob Poeltl
Barnes was a point guard in high school and college, and part of the season he was picked as high as he was by the Raptors was his ability to pass better than most his size and keep an offense flowing. Why not lean into that in what is supposed to be a rebuilding season?
This lineup not only ensures that Barnes will get his chance to run the show as a point guard, but it also keeps Gary Trent Jr. in the starting lineup. This team lacks shooting, and Trent is one of the few players who can be trusted to stuff the stat sheet regularly.
The Toronto Raptors must utilize Scottie Barnes.
One side effect of this lineup is the fact that new free agent signing and FIBA World Cup hero Dennis Schroder is starting on the bench. Rajakovic, whom Schroder has a ton of respect for, might be willing to unleash him as the primary bench scorer. He’s handled a similar role in the past season.