3 Missing pieces Raptors need to return to title contention

Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors
Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors / Cole Burston/GettyImages
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No. 1: Top-15 player

Scottie Barnes has taken a massive and hard-earned step forward this season. Prior to fracturing his hand and missing the past few weeks, Barnes was proving himself to be a two-way star. For the season he averaged 19.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 2.8 combined "stocks" - steals and blocks. He improved as a shooter to the tune of 34.1 percent on a healthy 4.9 attempts per game. Barnes was a deserving All-Star this season.

Even with the improvements, however, it's unlikely that Barnes will ever become a Top-10 offensive player, the kind of star who elevates his team's offense through an unstoppable combination of scoring and playmaking. At the same time, he likely won't be one of the handful of very best defenders in the league.

To win a title in the NBA, you need a Top-10 player. Scottie Barnes is good now and will be great, but he probably is never quite a Top-10 player. The Raptors will need to find one, then, in order to be true title contenders. Perhaps they land a Top-15 level of player and go to war with two guys; think Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo on the Miami Heat making the NBA Finals twice in the last four seasons.

Barnes could be an amazing No. 2 option alongside another perimeter star. Is Immanuel Quickley that guy? Probably not. The Raptors likely need to continue bottoming out over the next couple of seasons to add that player in the draft, or they need to conserve all of their draft picks to make such a trade, like they did with Kawhi Leonard.

The Raptors have a long ways to go to get back to the top. To do so, they have a specific shopping list, and it may take years to check off every box.

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