When the Toronto Raptors traded away their All-Defensive caliber forward OG Anunoby to the New York Knicks, the compensation in return was more than satisfactory. Not only did Toronto acquire young guard Immanuel Quickley, but they also gained a hometown hero in Mississauga native RJ Barrett.
Barrett becomes the eighth Canadian to play for the Raptors. After a solid first showing in a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the "Maple Mamba" could be on track to become the greatest Canadian in Raptors history.
All five of the Raptors starters put up double figures, with Pascal Siakam leading the way posting 36 points on five-of-eight three-point shooting. The other Raptors newcomer, spry young guard Immanuel Quickley, found himself in early foul trouble but still put up an impressive 14 points, six rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
As for Barrett, it took him a bit of a feeling-out process to get his offensive game going, but he finished with a near-double-double of 19 points and nine rebounds. Losing Anunoby is tough, given his superb defensive ability, but in a small sample size, Barrett proved to be more than sufficient as a replacement in the Raptors' starting lineup.
RJ Barrett can become the Canadian GOAT in Raptors history
A keynote from Barrett's debut for Toronto was his aggressiveness in drawing fouls and limiting his shooting from distance. As a member of the Knicks, Barrett would largely play as a floor spacer alongside his co-stars Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, attempting five or more three-pointers in his last three seasons with New York.
Barrett has faced scrutiny in his Knicks tenure for his lackluster shooting efficiency, but with one game under his Raptors belt, it seems Barrett's flow of offense has shifted dramatically.
There is still a long way to go for Barrett in his Raptors journey, but his first impressions are certainly a delight for Raptors fans given recent poor team performances. RJ's room for growth and potential looks to be very wide and with the Raptors coaching staff's track record of elevating three-point shooting (the progress in star forwards Barnes and Siakam), it's not farfetched to expect they can polish Barrett's game too.
The list of Canadian ex-Raptors is decent, but no single name on the list stands out as amazing. Chris Boucher is far and away the biggest name on that list, and even Boucher himself would tell you he isn't close to as talented an offensive talent as Barrett is. It's RJ's chance to blow them all out of the water and make history as the premier Canadian of the group.