The vibe around the Toronto Raptors has completely shifted in the last few weeks. What was once a plucky team trying to overcome the odds and slay Goliaths has devolved into a squad with no identity that is now dropping games they should easily have won.
Between losing to the Miami Heat without Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo just a few days before getting taken down by a Charlotte Hornets team that didn't have LaMelo Ball, the Raptors are one of the toughest and most inconsistent watches on a nightly basis throughout the association.
It doesn't take a masterful basketball mind to see that this team has problems. After all, how is it that a big three of Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, and OG Anunoby so consistently failed to gel and start winning games? Some deep-rooted problems are clearly limiting this team.
While Darko Rajakovic deserves some of the blame for what has been a general inability to adapt and some puzzling decisions in the heat of the moment, Masai Ujiri and the rest of the Raptors' front office also need to be raked over the coals. There are more problems on this Raptors team than there were at the start of the year.
3 biggest problems with the Toronto Raptors in 2023.
3. Lack of shooting
This was a problem for years, and Masai Ujiri didn't do much to fix it this offseason. Dennis Schroder isn't anything more than an average shooter from an efficiency point of view, Gary Trent Jr. has regressed hard this season, and both frontcourt starters in Siakam and Jakob Poeltl are complete non-factors from deep.
The worst part about the lack of shooting on this team is that Ujiri tried to fix this in the offseason by retaining Otto Porter Jr. amid trade talk, drafting Gradey Dick, and signing Jalen McDaniels. After 22 games, Porter is injured again, McDaniels is out of the rotation, and Dick is down in the G League with Raptors 905.
The Toronto Raptors still have few solid shooters.
While Barnes has made some noteworthy positive strides in this area, it's also fair to acknowledge that his admittedly impressive improvement is nowhere near big enough to overcome half of his teammates either regressing or flatlining in this area.
Banking on good internal development isn't a terrible idea, but the fact that Ujiri seemed to believe adding Rajakovic and hoping his developmental magic would somehow fix everything is baffling. Yet again, the Raptors are suffering because of Ujiri's optimism.