The Toronto Raptors have to be jumping for joy after their latest preseason skirmish against the Sacramento Kings, as new head coach Darko Rajakovic unveiled a new-look, pass-happy offense and less chaotic defense that led to a 112-99 victory that looked more impressive than the margin of victory stated.
The Raptors have a trio of preseason games in their future as they try to get more accustomed to how Rajakovic conducts business. With a very complex offense that requires a ton of study and comfort to be digested, the Raptors need as many hands on deck as possible.
With a matchup against one of Australia’s best teams in the Cairns Taipans preceding a pair of duels against the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards, respectively, the Raptors will get a few more chances to make sure the entire roster is operating at peak efficiency before the season opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Raptors need to figure out if they can check these three boxes during their final trio of games. If Rajakovic can accomplish this, there is no reason this team can’t hit the ground running in his debut season despite a generally difficult early schedule.
3 goals for the Toronto Raptors in 2023 preseason.
3. Develop Jakob Poeltl
The Raptors have been very upfront in what they expect from some of their big names, and Poeltl will need to take a big step forward as a result. Toronto signed him to a four-year deal due to the belief that Poeltl would be more than a big 7-1 body who can occasionally block shots.
On top of the fact that Poeltl can shoot well over 60% from the field due to some tremendous finishing ability, the former No. 9 overall pick has become one of the best passing centers in the league. This ability will be extremely important in Rajakovic’s offense.
The Toronto Raptors want a lot out of Jakob Poeltl.
Of the five presumptive starters on opening night, Poeltl clearly had the worst day, as he turned the ball over frequently and got into foul trouble. At least he gets the chance to work out most of the kinks in the preseason rather than when live bullets are flying in the regular season.
Poeltl is never going to be a guy who scored 30 points every single game, but his value to the Raptors on both ends was obvious after his arrival. With Rajakovic having turned bigs like Steven Adams and Jaren Jackson Jr. into studs, Poeltl could be next on his list.