The Toronto Raptors could not have performed better in the preseason under first-year head coach Darko Rajakovic. Not only did Toronto win all four of their games, but three of them were absolute blowouts that got out of hand before the fourth quarter kicked off.
The new-look offense, which is undoubtedly playing at a much quicker pace than what Nick Nurse was trying to install last season, has meshed perfectly with a young roster hellbent on getting back to the postseason following months of constant offseason mockery.
The Raptors still have some questions that need answering, but this preseason has been an illuminating experience in totality. The positive vibes are back just a year after dark clouds hung over this franchise, as the on-court product might be farther along than what many preseason predictors thought.
Toronto learned a trio of very important lessons that will help shape their roster construction and schematic tendencies in the early stages of the season. It’s nice to have some clarity before Toronto’s Wednesday opener against Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
3 Toronto Raptors lessons learned in 2023 preseason.
3. Dennis Schroder’s role has been defined
After bouncing around the league and seeing his value fluctuate wildly, the Raptors signed Schroder almost immediately after Fred VanVleet joined the Houston Rockets. Rajakovic’s offense needs a distributor, and Schroder has past experience with him dating back to Oklahoma City.
Schroder was named the starting point guard, while Gary Trent Jr. was sent to the bench. While he didn’t light the world on fire as a scorer, his team-leading 5.8 assists per game and 3.5 rebounds per game shows how deadly he can be without sucking up tons of shot attempts.
Dennis Schroder will be a key member of the Toronto Raptors.
Schroder shot just 37% from the field and 31% from 3-point range, but that could be the product of a small sample size. The numbers will tick up with more playing time, all without eating into the playmaking skill that helped all of Toronto’s star players get the shots they needed.
Even at his lowest, Schroder, who has averaged double digits in points per game in every NBA season except his rookie year, will be able to get his share of points. His ability to do so while getting Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam the shots they need to be effective is highly valuable.