Darko Rajakovic and the Toronto Raptors have won their first three games of the 2023-24 postseason, sandwiching a blowout victory against Australia’s Cairns Taipans with an excellent offensive performance against the Sacramento Kings and a tough win against the Chicago Bulls.
The Raptors appear to have made some very important roster decisions in the early stages of the preseason, giving Dennis Schroder the starting point guard spot and relegating Gary Trent Jr. to a role as a super sub that can make impactful plays off the bench.
That doesn’t mean Rajakocic’s work is done. On a team with a bench that is far away from standing out as one of the best in their conference and multiple young players who need a big enough developmental runway, Toronto needs to strike gold with the perfect combination early in this season to get the most out of this roster.
By the start of the regular season Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves at home, Rajakovic needs to have solved these three roster quandaries. With how deep Toronto had to go into the bench last season, Rajakovic can’t afford to be a fly-by-night coach who doesn’t have all his ducks in a row.
3 roster battles the Toronto Raptors must solve.
3. The Jeff Dowtin/Malachi Flynn Race
The Raptors appear to be inching closer to a decision in this two-man deadheat, as Flynn has received much more playing time than Dowtin and appears to be looking more confident. Dowtin always had a big hill to climb, and the preseason hasn’t helped him chip away at it.
With Toronto seeming to value what Garrett Temple brings to the table in the locker room and refusing to give up on Otto Porter Jr. despite his injuries, the odds of the Raptors parting ways with one of their guaranteed contracts to keep Dowtin around is looking less likely.
The Toronto Raptors could pick Malachi Flynn over Jeff Dowtin.
If the battle between these two comes down to their long-term potential, the safer Dowtin could lose out to a more exciting offensive commodity in Flynn. Given Dowtin’s age and general lack of excellent offensive skills, Flynn’s potential might be his meal ticket in this race.
While Nick Nurse tried and failed to turn Flynn into a star, perhaps bringing in a new coach like Rajakovic could be everything he needs to get back on the right track and find the consistency he needs so badly. Barring a late Dowtin run, Flynn has the edge here.