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Toronto Raptors season update: Searching for answers after rough run

If there was any denial left over the Toronto Raptors’ issues, those disappeared with a terrible defeat against the Charlotte Hornets in their last game.

The Raptors are on a rough run of five losses in six, which has seen them make frequent slow starts. Early 10-point deficits and resetting timeouts minutes into the game have been a regular feature, with little done to reverse their fortunes.

The looming decisions the Raptors’ front office faces are hurtling towards them, with change needed before the campaign is completely lost.

Record9-13
Standing11th in Eastern Conference
In-Season Tournament Record1-3

Key wins

  • 11/01/23: 130-111 vs Milwaukee Bucks
  • 11/08/23: 127-116 vs Dallas Mavericks
  • 11/29/23: 112-105 vs Phoenix Suns

Key losses

  • 11/11/23: 117-94 vs Boston Celtics
  • 11/21/23: 126-107 vs Orlando Magic
  • 12/08/23: 119-116 vs Charlotte Hornets

Key Statistical Leaders

Points Per Game

  • Pascal Siakam: 20.7
  • Scottie Barnes: 19.8
  • Dennis Schroder: 15.1

Assists Per Game

  • Dennis Schroder: 6.8
  • Scottie Barnes: 5.6
  • Pascal Siakam: 5.0

Rebounds

  • Scottie Barnes: 9.2
  • Jakob Poeltl: 8.4
  • Pascal Siakam: 6.9

Steals Per Game

  • Scottie Barnes: 1.7
  • OG Anunoby: 1.1
  • Dennis Schroder: 0.9

Blocks Per Game

  • Scottie Barnes: 1.3
  • Jakob Poeltl: 1.1
  • OG Anunoby: 0.7

Three-Point Percentage (minimum 1 attempt per game)

  • OG Anunoby: 38.8%
  • Scottie Barnes: 38.3%
  • Chris Boucher: 37.8%

NBA Team Stat Rankings (Out of 30)

Points per game:23
Rebounds per game:7
Assists per game:4
Offensive rating:23
Defensive rating:14
Assist percentage:3
Assist to turnover ratio:8

Top Performers

Even in their worst moments, Scottie Barnes’ development stands out for this Raptors side. Their loss to the Hornets summed up almost everything wrong with the roster, but Barnes managed to record his first 30-point triple-double in the defeat.

The fact that Barnes has maintained his shooting improvement even as the Raptors struggle to get going is a testament to his development. The team had a dire night from deep against the Hornets shooting just 18% from behind the arc, but Barnes himself made three of his four efforts from the perimeter, including going 3-4 in the second half.

The 22-year-old is evolving into everything the Raptors hoped he could be, but he doesn’t have adequate support around him. His frequent use in lineups alongside four bench players hinders his impact and their lack of starting five flexibility restricts his space early in games.

Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby complete the Raptors top three, with the pair both shining when given the opportunity. Anunoby remains a vital part of the defense, despite some below-par showings of late.

Darko Rajakovic needs to do more to get the pair more looks at the expense of Dennis Schroder, who has seen his FIBA shine wear off. After putting up some good early assist numbers, his inefficiency is becoming a problem which is now impacting the Raptors’ best players.

Odds

To win the Eastern Conference: +8000
To win NBA Championship: +20000

Verdict

After big changes were promised in the summer, this edition of the Toronto Raptors have all of last season’s ills alongside some new issues. They continue to look awkward and clunky on offense, while they’ve been inexcusably bad at the other end of the court.

Rewind a matter of weeks and you’ll find OG Anunoby talking up his Defensive Player of the Year claims. There were also boasts from Scottie Barnes and Precious Achiuwa about their defensive skillsets and the high ceiling this team has. Those claims have disappeared during this down streak.

The biggest problem the Raptors face is figuring out what exactly it is they’re trying to do. There’s hope for internal improvement through Barnes, Achiuwa and rookie Gradey Dick. However, the starting lineups and bench rotations offer little insight into how the roster can be tailored to their skillsets.

If the only aim is to win and development is a nice bonus, then their 9-13 record suggests that isn’t going well. During media day, the suggestion was the team wanted to both win and develop. Outside of Barnes, they’re not doing either.

The 2023/24 campaign hasn’t been a total write-off thanks to Barnes taking a leap. However, their prospects for building on that look slim at the minute. Their long-term issues with shooting, ball-handling and bench scoring remain, while the current offensive system has appeared to dim the impact of their top three players quite regularly this season.

The Raptors are in need of big changes, both from a game-to-game standpoint and wider roster reconstruction. With five of the top eight players in terms of minutes-per-game bound for free agency this summer, the Raptors need to decide to rebuild before it is decided for them.

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