Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors are not usually a team that goes into the regular season bursting at the seams with drama that seeks to overtake the product on the court. This season could be somewhat of a change in that trend, as there is a lot of outside noise.
The Raptors have multiple players mired in trade rumors and offseason departure rumblings. With Ujiri having refused to pick a direction and stick with it in the last few years, Toronto stands stuck between two warring philosophies with precious little time to eventually decide on what to do.
While the Raptors will have to fight past many of the off-court rumblings, the product on the court is by no means a sure thing. The roster is an unusual mishmash of veterans trying to stick in the pros and young players looking to prove they have enough long-term potential to be valued by Toronto.
These three storylines stand out as the most important things to keep an eye on during the early stages of what could be a make-or-break season for many people within this organization.
3 Toronto Raptors storylines to watch in 2023-24 season.
3. The development of Scottie Barnes
The Raptors have rolled out the red carpet for Barnes, as they have designated him as the de facto franchise player for the next decade of Toronto basketball. Every move the team makes will be based wholly around trying to turn the Florida State stud into a leader on the court.
The early results, be them as they may in the preseason, are quite encouraging. Barnes looks like the dynamo from his rookie year, as he is getting to the basket and utilizing his exceptional interior finishing ability. His playmaking chops are up to par, as Rajakovic has thrown him in headfirst in this area.
Scottie Barnes needs to improve for the Toronto Raptors.
Barnes needs to take a step forward as a shooter, which has to be one of the main reasons Toronto decided to hire an offensive coach like Rajakovic. After helping players like Desmond Bane and Luke Kennard accentuate their strong skills and turning Jaren Jackson Jr. into a respectable offensive player, Rajakovic could work his magic with Barnes.
Even if giving Barnes some added responsibility early in this season impacts Toronto in the win-loss column, such a move should still be made if it eventually ends with Barnes becoming a more reliable and trusted member of the offense. The sparks are sure to fly.