The Toronto Raptors will begin their regular season on Oct. 25 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Many media pundits have the Raptors taking a step back this season because they lost Fred VanVleet in free agency and didn’t pick a direction.
However, the Raptors are hoping that new head coach Darko Rajakovic will get the most out of this current roster and exceed expectations.
Here are some bold predictions for the Raptors 2023-24 season.
Scottie Barnes wins most improved player of the year
Scottie Barnes looked great in the Raptors first preseason game against the Sacramento Kings. He was aggressive, attacked the basket and seemed more involved on offense. Barnes will have more ball handling duties this season as well.
Barnes has put in the work this offseason. He said he worked on his conditioning and has gained 9 pounds of muscle.
Barnes averaged 15.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists on 45.6 percent shooting from the field and 28.1 percent shooting from deep last season.
Having a bigger role on offense will benefit Barnes and his numbers should see an increase.
The biggest thing for Barnes will be his shooting. If Barnes can become a 50 percent shooter from the field and bump up that three-point percentage, then he will truly unlock his fullest potential.
Raptors finish 6th in the east
Toronto’s new-look offence has a lot of promise. The Raptors’ personnel seems like it will benefit from Darko Rajakovic’s 0.5 offense. If there’s more ball movement on this team then everything will open up.
Outside of the Raptors offense, their defense should be better and their bench looks promising. The Raptors second unit will be led by Gary Trent Jr. who has a chance to impact games. Trent Jr., Jalen McDaniels, Chris Boucher and Precious Achiuwa will be the main four players from off the bench.
The Raptors still have rookie Gradey Dick, Otto Porter Jr. who appears to be healthy, Thad Young, Garrett Temple, Malachi Flynn and hopefully Christian Koloko who is still dealing with a respiratory issue. The depth is there for the Raptors to use to their advantage.
Then when you look at the starters not only will Barnes benefit under Rajakovic, but O.G. Anunoby should also see an increase in his scoring average. Dennis Schroder who played under Rajakovic before with the Oklahoma City Thunder should have a big year as well. Rajakovic wants Jakob Poeltl to be a bigger part of the offense and Pascal Siakam should be able to put up All-Star numbers.
The East has a lot of middle of the pack teams. Outside of the top two best teams in the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics, things appear to be open. There’s going to be an opportunity for a team like the Raptors to move up.
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