Monday, February 26, 2024

NAUGHTY OR NICE: Christmas presents every of the Raptors may use

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This Christmas season we provide reward concepts for the struggling Raptors. As we head into a brand new 12 months full of recent hopes, listed here are some issues every Raptor may actually use:

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SCOTTIE BARNES

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Barnes is now the face of the franchise, the participant the Raptors will construct round transferring ahead. To that finish, it’s gone time they encompass the budding star with extra complementary teammates. As spectacular as what Barnes is doing in Yr 3 (20.7 factors, 9.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.4 steals, with a three-point share of 38%, in comparison with 28% final 12 months), think about how far more harmful he could possibly be. If the Raptors truly surrounded Barnes with three (and even 4) high quality shooters, there’s an opportunity he may change into one of many 10 greatest gamers within the league.

Siakam
Raptors’ Pascal Siakam (left) controls the ball as Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Younger defends in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

PASCAL SIAKAM

Siakam is among the biggest Raptors of all time and is the franchise’s prime success story, having been nabbed on the finish of the primary spherical as a non-shooting undertaking and turning into the No. 2 scorer on the championship staff. However what he wants most this Christmas is readability. It’s time for the Raptors to both signal him to a long-term extension, or discover him a brand new house. The perfect issues for each side might be Possibility B. Let the Raptors get desperately wanted draft picks and younger belongings to arrange the Barnes-led future, and let Siakam embrace his internal Chris Bosh and change into a wonderful second or third piece on a contender.

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OG ANUNOBY

All Anunoby wants is a run of excellent well being. He hasn’t performed over 70 video games since his rookie season (74) and has constantly missed 15-30 video games a 12 months. That’s manner an excessive amount of, even when most of the accidents have been of the freak selection. Anunoby goes to get a large increase this summer time, most likely from the Raptors, however you by no means know, perhaps they pivot and deal him first or perhaps he goes the Fred VanVleet route and indicators elsewhere. Both manner, if he can keep within the lineup for a lot of the subsequent three months, his possible new deal most likely will probably be price much more.

GARY TRENT JR.

Santa’s greatest reward for Trent could be a beginning function. He’s been much better as a primary unit possibility since being acquired from Portland and his taking pictures is badly wanted. Toronto’s been detest to attempt one thing totally different, despite the fact that the starters have been poor, regardless of all of their expertise, however Trent deserves a shot. He additionally wants an even bigger function to earn himself extra money when he too turns into a free agent after the season.

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DENNIS SCHRODER

Persistence if he’s moved to the bench. Schroder’s greatest function over his lengthy NBA profession has been as a backup level guard/bench spark plug. He’s had a superb season, however is being requested to do an excessive amount of. A sizzling stretch taking pictures the ball early on has juiced his numbers, however there have been too many struggles to suit with the opposite starters. The Trent/Schroder flip makes manner an excessive amount of sense to not a minimum of be tried, and Schroder, coming off a unbelievable summer time that noticed him named FIBA World Cup MVP after Germany received the match, wants to simply accept what some will see as a demotion for the nice of the staff.

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JAKOB POELTL

A jolt of confidence. Poeltl hasn’t appeared like the identical participant as final 12 months, when he was fairly good after being reacquired by the Raptors. He hasn’t appeared near the man who excelled for San Antonio both. The match hasn’t been nice with Schroder or with what the staff is asking from him. He isn’t a risk to shoot the ball in any respect and Siakam is basically struggling from outdoors. Add in Schroder’s inconsistency taking pictures and it’s straightforward to see why issues aren’t working. Maybe with Trent’s flooring spacing Poeltl would look higher. That stated, Poeltl actually struggled with Trent and the opposite three present starters final season and solely was at his greatest with VanVleet on the ground. The opposite possibility is letting him play extra with Malachi Flynn, who’s extra of a pick-and-roll level guard than Schroder.

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CHRIS BOUCHER

All Boucher wants is extra minutes and a extra constant function. He’s been one of many few brilliant spots to date this season, but is continually the final Raptor known as on by Darko Rajakovic and typically under no circumstances. That’s regardless of the vitality, rebounding and taking pictures he gives. The staff clearly needs to convey alongside the a lot youthful Valuable Achiuwa, despite the fact that Boucher has been a lot stronger. If Toronto goes to retool, delivery Boucher to a staff that wants him additionally is sensible.

PRECIOUS ACHIUWA

Achiuwa has all of the bodily instruments on the earth. What he wants is the reward of higher decision-making. He could be well-served in attempting to simplify his sport extra. Much less forcing of the difficulty, a bit much less aggression and extra letting issues come to him. There’s a prime bench participant in there someplace if he can put all of it collectively, perhaps even a starter.

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MALACHI FLYNN

Extra time on the ground with the staff’s greatest gamers. Typically, good issues have occurred when Flynn has been known as on alongside a mix of three of Barnes, Siakam, Anunoby or Trent. The staff’s web ranking has been manner higher than different permutations when that’s occurred. Possibly Flynn for Schroder and never Trent for Schroder is price a whirl, given the statistical proof (although the pattern measurement isn’t large). Why not attempt him with Poeltl, one thing that has solely occurred for 76 minutes all season?

Toronto Raptors guard Gradey Dick dribbles the ball during the second half of a pre-season NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023, in Chicago. In his first ever NBA pre-season, Dick promised himself to put in long hours at the Toronto Raptors' training facilities and do whatever his coaches asked of him.
Raptors’ Gradey Dick dribbles the ball in opposition to the Chicago Bulls, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023, in Chicago.  Photograph by Matt Marton /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

GRADEY DICK

Perception. Dick was billed as the most effective shooter within the draft for a purpose. He’s been a marksman since highschool and was among the finest freshmen to ever play for Kansas, one of many prime NCAA packages. Dick simply turned 20 and no person anticipated him to be an influence participant immediately, however this has been a slooooow begin, along with his greatest asset, his shot, not displaying. He simply must consider in his pure abilities and his previous physique of labor. Allow them to fly when given an opportunity.

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OTTO PORTER JR.

A bionic toe. The toe problem that value him most of final season has already performed havoc with this one too. Porter hasn’t been in a position to play each ends of back-to-backs, has needed to miss many video games and might’t actually be counted on. That should change as a result of he’s been fairly useful when he’s truly been on the court docket. He simply wants his toe to cooperate and let him change into an everyday.

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CHRISTIAN KOLOKO

This current is simple: Koloko wants clearance to renew his profession. He’s been out as a consequence of a respiratory ailment and never plenty of mild has been shed on his medical situation, for apparent causes. Koloko is ready to work out with the staff. It will be nice if he could possibly be allowed to play as a result of he confirmed promise final 12 months and initiatives as part of the staff’s future plans. Hopefully he can play quickly.

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DARKO RAJAKOVIC

Rajakovic would profit from his bosses laying out a runway of the place the franchise needs to go. Are the Raptors rebuilding or attempting laborious to make the play-in? Is it one thing in between? No matter it’s, both deal Siakam (and perhaps extra) and decide to the Barnes Challenge, or assert that this group is staying collectively and goals to battle for the play-in and past. Proper now administration isn’t making it straightforward on the rookie head coach.

MASAI UJIRI

Take motion The goodwill of being the second-winningest franchise over the past decade-plus, together with the championship, is beginning to fade. The longer they go with out making a giant transfer, with dropping key belongings for little to nothing, with dealing away draft picks for middling returns, the more serious off the Raptors will probably be. It’s gone time for Ujiri and his employees to get issues again on observe. Drafting Barnes was a grasp stroke however nothing else has paid off. An excessive amount of expertise has walked out the door lately and there’s been manner an excessive amount of dithering, ensuing within the worth of the staff’s gamers declining. All with ticket costs rising by as a lot as 10% for some season ticket holders. It’s laborious to think about the fanbase will stay engaged if administration continues to carry onto all of its playing cards indefinitely.

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