3 Crucial lessons to take away from the Raptors' disastrous season

With every challenge comes an opportunity to learn, and for the Raptors, this past season has been nothing but challenging.
Toronto Raptors v Denver Nuggets
Toronto Raptors v Denver Nuggets / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages
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For most teams, the end of the regular season marks a time where fans, players, and coaches alike discard the previous 82 games and turn their focus to the bright lights of the NBA playoffs. For the Raptors, this time is an opportunity to exhale and reflect on the rollercoaster of emotions that was the 2023-2024 season.

From disappointing signings, blockbuster trades, and league-shaking scandals, it seemed at times that nothing could go right for the Raptors, a feeling that lasted until the final buzzer of their season-ending match against the Miami Heat, which they lost 103-118 to finish with the 5th-worst record in franchise history.

Even in the worst of situations there is always a silver lining. In this article, we'll look at 3 lessons that the Raptors can take away from this season to properly construct a serious playoff contender.

Lesson One: Young Players Don't Develop Overnight

Raptors fans have been spoiled for the past decade when it comes to draft talent. Despite only having 3 lottery picks in the past 8 drafts, the Raptors have enjoyed an abundance of homegrown young talent in the forms of OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Fred Vanvleet, Norman Powell, and of course, Scottie Barnes. That being said, the expectations for the newest Raptors rookie Gradey Dick were unfairly high.

Gradey's career came to a slow start as he struggled to find consistency in any part of the game, even his shooting stroke - which was considered the most translatable in the class - couldn't make the adjustment. Ultimately, a few months with the Raptors 905 and some shakeups in the rotation were enough for Gradey to show notable improvements, and fans who once regarded him as a "bust" midway through the season have been all but silenced.

With the acquisition of former lottery pick Ochai Agbaji, and potentially 3 picks in a draft widely considered to be lacking in immediate talent, the Raptors will have to take a page out of Oklahoma City's book and find a balance between developing a competitive core and embracing the growing pains of nurturing young talent.