1. The growth of Scottie Barnes
If Barnes ended up flatlining once again, this season would have gone from bad to worse. Luckily, his play has been so good that not only is it warranting All-Star Game consideration, but some have already been driving the hype train with such vigor that they want him to be a starter.
Barnes is averaging 19.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game despite a largely bad offense with minimal spacing hurting him in all of those categories. His 38% 3-point percentage and 2.9 "stocks" per game (1.7 steals and 1.2 blocks) show a huge improvement in two areas where he was criticized last year.
The Toronto Raptors are thriving with Scottie Barnes.
The Raptors can at least go into 2024-25 and beyond knowing that Barnes has shown enough to build around. This season can technically be deemed adverse conditions due to the problems facing this roster, and he continues to thrive amid all of this chaos.
Imagine Barnes paying at this level without a player like Siakam demanding the ball and taking shots away. Imagine Scottie surrounded by multiple above-average shooters instead of having to do everything as the one focal point in an all-bench lineup. These dreams could become reality soon.