3 pleasant surprises from Raptors’ volatile start to 2023 season

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 17: Head coach Darko Rajaković of the Toronto Raptors talks with Dennis Schroder #17 (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 17: Head coach Darko Rajaković of the Toronto Raptors talks with Dennis Schroder #17 (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Raptors find themselves at 1-2 following their first three games of the season, and all of their games have been a wild ride. Between a nail-biting win against the Timberwolves, an embarrassment to basketball against the Bulls, and a loss to Nick Nurse in his return with the 76ers, Toronto has been all over the map.

It’s been hard to truly evaluate where Darko Rajakovic and the rest of his team stand. Are they a young team in the middle of a stretch where they’re trying to figure things out as they go along? Are they a team trying to win now that should be held accountable for their transgressions?

No matter what you think of the team’s overall performance, even Rajakovic himself would tell you they still have quite a hill to climb. There are some changes that could be made, and it’s on the coaching staff to figure out the best way to implement those changes on this roster.

It’s easy to be negative after two straight losses, but that negativity would overshadow some very promising developments currently blossoming in Toronto. Optimistic Raptors fans might want to take a good look at many of the best aspects of their first three-game stretch.

3 pleasant surprises after Toronto Raptors’ 1-2 start in 2023.

3. Dennis Schroder’s scoring

Some around the NBA landscape mocked the signing of Schroder, as they saw him as an inferior replacement for Fred VanVleet. It took Toronto all of three games to warm up to Schroder and what he brings to the table on the offensive side of the ball.

Schroder has averaged 15.7 points and 9.0 assists per game while making more than half his 3-pointers. On a team with a stagnant half-court offense as possible and a prominent absence of shooters, Schroder has been willing to let it fly and take shots in big moments. That’s why you get a veteran with his pedigree.

Dennis Schroder has started off hot for the Toronto Raptors.

Rajakovic’s offense is based on ball movement and making quick decisions with the ball in your hands. If any player on this roster embodies that philosophy, even despite some weird runs of form in the last few years, it’s Schroder. The decision to sign him and name him the starting point guard appears to have been vindicated.

Schroder does have some issues, as he is shooting less than 40% from the field due to some unusual and uncharacteristic misses inside the arc. If he can get that straightened out and look more like the FIBA World Cup MVP he was in the offseason, the offense could kick into high gear.