The Toronto Raptors have the misfortune of trying to compete for a postseason spot while sitting in the toughest division in the NBA. Every team in the Atlantic Division, Toronto included, has the ability to become a playoff team with designs on a deeper run.
Having said that, there is some stratification. The Boston Celtics are clearly at the top, with the Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks a notch or two below. This leaves the Raptors and Brooklyn Nets in a position to fight amongst themselves to avoid the dubious distinction of last place.
The Nets have done well to rebuild after the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trades, getting budding stars like Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson while retaining some of their better young names long-term. The Nets have potential, but how good are they in 2023?
Brooklyn will likely have to make peace with the fact they aren’t equipped to go blow for blow with the Raptors right now. These three factors in favor of Darko Rajakovic’s squad could help set them apart against one of their most hated rivals inside of their division.
3 reasons the Toronto Raptors are better than the Brooklyn Nets.
3. Frontcourt depth
This is in no way a shot at Nic Claxton, who is an emerging star at the center position and one of the best defensive big men in the game. However, this roster is still reeling from the loss of Durant and Irving, and it will take some time for the frontcourt to really evolve into anything above average.
Aside from Claxton and a certain former 76er who will be expanded upon, the Nets have two defense-first wing/forward hybrids in Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale. Siakam and Jakob Poeltl exceed the Claxton/Johnson dynamic duo and this bench by leaps and bounds.
The Brooklyn Nets can’t compete with the Toronto Raptors’ height.
With Darius Bazley and former top recruit Harry Giles liable to either underperform or get hurt due to their pasts and former first-round Day’Ron Sharpe still showing some warts in his third season, the backups aren’t ideal for a team that has to slow down Joel Embiid and Julius Randle often.
The two-way potential of Precious Achiuwa and the experience of Chris Boucher will give the Raptors some options when the starters are out. If the Nets’ perimeter defense is scary for Toronto, pounding the ball inside could be a winning formula.