In the Toronto Raptors’ season-opening 97-94 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves, one that was marked by standout games from OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa, it was new signing Dennis Schroder who may have had the best offensive performance of the night thanks to a terrific shooting show.
The point guard spot was a bit of a concern throughout the offseason, as many were speculative about how the new-look Raptors would structure their starting lineup. Darko Rajakovic ultimately opted for a more traditional look, putting Schroder in the first five at the expense of shooting guard Gary Trent Jr.
Despite the sloppy play at times, Toronto ultimately managed to pull out a win against a very tough team and start the Rajakovic era off with a 1-0 record. Scottie Barnes had a solid showing all-around with 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and a career-high tying five blocks. OG Anunoby had his own skillful night on both ends.
Perhaps most impressively, considering it was his Raptors debut, Schroder had a breakout performance with 22 points, seven assists, and four rebounds. Schroder’s 22 points were the most points scored by a debuting Raptor since Kawhi Leonard delivered 24 points in his unveiling back in 2018.
Dennis Schroder looked like a starting PG for the Toronto Raptors.
The team may have lost its longstanding point guard Fred VanVleet to the Houston Rockets in the offseason, but in just his first regular season game as a Raptor, Schroder is out to prove he’s a more than capable replacement.
Not only was it an impressive 22-point performance, but Schroder came through for the team from behind the 3-point line, as he knocked down an efficient four out of eight attempts from deep. On a night when the team was hurting at times in half-court sets, Schroder’s three-point shooting stroke was undoubtedly a breath of fresh air.
He looked to be in his element from the get-go, showing an immense level of confidence in his three-point shot, even taunting a few times with his “ice in the veins” gesture. The same offensive wizardry the FIBA World Cup champion and MVP showed in the offseason appears to have made the trip up north.
Schroder’s energy and belief in himself bring a lot to a Raptors team that is still in the process of figuring out its dynamics and culture. For a team full of young players, a steady veteran hand with Schroder’s attacking mindset is invaluable.
It may just be the first game of an 82-game season, but between Barnes continuing his balanced play in the preseason, Anunoby finding his own groove from deep along with amazing defensive stats, and Schroder’s emergence as the team’s new backcourt leader, Raptors fans have a lot to look forward to as the 2023-24 campaign begins to take shape.