The Toronto Raptors will finish off their preseason schedule this week, playing three games in a span of six days. After taking down the Sacramento Kings in grand style, the Raptors are heading into this slate of games with a good amount of wind in their sails.
The Raptors will take on one of Australia’s best teams in the Cairns Taipans at Scotiabank Arena before finishing things off against the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards. With the season starting next week against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the kinks need to be ironed out soon.
The preseason is a time for the veterans to get used to new head coach Darko Rajakovic and what he brings to the table, but the raw box score isn’t necessarily the prime objective here. These games are just as much about observing how far along the roster is as they are about winning.
In the next three games, Toronto has some boxes they need to check. In a season where the Raptors would need to overcome tons of doubters, getting off to a start without too many squeaky wheels will be imperative for a brand-new coaching staff.
3 things to look for in Toronto Raptors final preseason games.
3. The end of the bench starring
The Raptors don’t need to pull their hair out over the results of these games so long as some of the processes for their young players keep improving. The Kings game showed a brief glimpse at what these backups can do in the right scenario.
Markquis Nowell and Javon Freeman-Liberty didn’t do a ton in their first action against Sacramento, and the dynamic duo of Ron Harper Jr. and Jeff Dowtin were both healthy scratches in that game. Rajakovic will likely be more giving with minutes next time around.
The Toronto Raptors’ bench must rise up.
On a team that has seen two-way players get promoted to full NBA roles regularly in the last few years, the Raptors shouldn’t just discard the idea of a future rotation player emerging. Both Nowell and Harper should have been drafted, and Dowtin was a rotation player for brief parts last year.
With Chicago lacking in depth and Washington not exactly the 2004 Pistons on the defensive side of the ball, the next week presents quite a golden opportunity for these young players. Toronto will also answer the Dowtin question once and for all.