In the last article we looked at the best case scenario for the Raptors in 2023-2024. Today we look at the worst case scenario.
Many media pundits expect the Raptors to be worse after losing Fred VanVleet in free agency. ESPN has the Raptors finishing 36-46 and 12th in the Eastern Conference.
This season will come down to player development for the Raptors. The Raptors hired head coach Darko Rajakovic on June 13, whose calling card is that. Rajakovic will look to get the most out of the younger players on this team.
Raptors player development doesn’t go as planned
In this worst case scenario the Raptors player development isn’t smooth. Precious Achiuwa, Malachi Flynn and Christian Koloko don’t see improvement. Gradey Dick struggles in his first season and the Raptors main guys don’t take the next step.
Gary Trent Jr. is a player who will get a lot more touches will VanVleet gone. If he’s the Raptors starter or Sixth Man can he put together a consistent and productive season? OG Anunoby is 26-years-old now, but will he be able to increase his scoring average with more of an offensive role?
The biggest piece of this player development pie is Scottie Barnes. Will Scottie Barnes take the big third year leap everyone’s anticipating? He has shown many good things so far in his career, but after his Rookie of the Year campaign his numbers didn’t get better in his sophomore season.
Barnes will see a lot of the primary ball handling duties so he will have the ball in his hands a lot. Barnes field goal percentage and three-point percentage dropped last season and his scoring average stayed the same. If he sees a decline in those areas or flatlines then it could be a long season for the Raptors.
Raptors poor shooting continues
The Raptors ranked 27th last season in field goal percentage, 28th in three-point percentage and 23rd in assists per game and that was with their point guard Fred VanVleet on the team.
The Raptors offense was a chore to watch at times last season. They are now banking on Scottie Barnes to help with the playmaking and Dennis Schroder who the Raptors brought in this offseason as VanVleet’s replacement.
Schroder will be asked to make up the bulk of VanVleet’s missing production but the problem is Schroder’s a career 33.7 percent three-point shooter and Barnes isn’t any better at 29 percent for his career.
If guys like OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr, Otto Porter Jr. who the Raptors hope to have healthy and sharpshooter rookie Gradey Dick don’t make shots, then the Raptors offense will remain stagnant and the paint will be clogged up for guys like Pascal Siakam.
Raptors find themselves in the same spot again
The worst case scenario for the Raptors is that they find themselves in the same position as they did this past season.
They Raptors struggle out of the gate, hover around .500 and are faced with a decision at the NBA Trade Deadline to either sell or hold onto their players.
The Raptors have three players who could all hit the open market in 2024 free agency. Pascal Siakam who the team has not signed to an extension yet, Gary Trent Jr. who the Raptors haven’t extended either and OG Anunoby who can decline his player option.
In this scenario, Toronto repeats what they did last season. They don’t sell at the NBA Trade Deadline and go on to finish 40-42, missing the Play-In Tournament.
The Raptors then potentially lose all three of their players for nothing. The biggest loss would be losing Pascal Siakam for nothing, just like they lost Fred VanVleet for nothing this past summer.
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