There’s 23 games left to play in the Raptors’ regular season.
They will commence a week from Thursday against the New Orleans Pelicans following a break for the annual all-star weekend.
Pascal Siakam will be in Salt Lake City representing the Raptors as will Scottie Barnes, who will take part in the Rising Stars tournament for his second and final time.
Word is both Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster will be making the trip as well, presumably to prime the pump for whatever moves they are planning for this summer.
There is no question this has been a disappointing season to date. The team heads into the break three games under .500. At their current pace they will finish somewhere around 39 wins.
From underperforming expectations to slow starts to injuries and, more than anything, a team that inexplicably can’t play the kind of defence that has made it successful in the past, this has been a disappointing season.
Normally we would do the individual grading of the players at the halfway point (41 games) and then at the conclusion of the season.
Well, things were such a dumpster fire at the halfway point, just handing out a bunch of F’s didn’t seem very productive. The team has improved a little since then, but the grades are still not going to be great.
So here is our opinion of the Raptors individually based on this season alone.
Pascal Siakam: B+
The Raptors’ lone all-star has been one of the few constants on a team full of inconsistency. A right adductor strain cost him 10 games or about three weeks in November, but other than that, he has nightly set the bar for his teammates with his hustle, desire to win and ability to execute. He has played the most minutes, scored the most points, pulled down the most rebounds and basically had more impact on the Raptors’ limited success than any of his peers. He probably needs a rest more than he needs to go to the all-star game, even if he wasn’t named when he should have been, instead having to wait for league commissioner Adam Silver to put him in there as an injury replacement.
Fred VanVleet: C-
This one hurts because we know VanVleet is much better than this. He has started to show it of late too, with his game picking up midway through January and his shooting returning to the levels he has established as his level since coming into the NBA. But there is no denying his inability to find a dependable three-point shot or even keep opposing guards from going off has played a major part in the team’s current record.
Gary Trent Jr.: B-
Trent Jr.’s slump wasn’t as long as VanVleet’s or as drastic, but like every player not named Siakam, he had his down time and his happened to come in November when the team was still playing decently. A good November by Trent Jr. could have improved that 7-7 month and helped offset the coming 5-10 disaster that was December. But other than that month of November when Trent Jr. shot just 27% from three and under 40% from the field, he has been solid.
Scottie Barnes: C-
Like VanVleet, Barnes’ season didn’t really get going until January. The reigning rookie-of-the-year struggled to find both role and rhythm in Toronto’s offence this year until the calendar turned to 2023. He’s still not looking to score as much as it feels like he could, but there’s no arguing with his late-game aggression, where he seems to turn it up in the fourth quarter. Expectations were probably too high for a guy in just his second year, but until January it felt like he was slow-walking his game into the season.
O.G. Anunoby: C+
Just when it felt like Anunoby was going to kick that can’t-stay-healthy qualifier that seems attached to his name, a sprained wrist off a bad collision in Golden State put another damper on his season. Anunoby had the opposite trajectory of VanVleet and Barnes. His scoring and offensive impact started to tail off in January, just when the rest of the lineup was catching up with Siakam, or at least closing the gap. Defensively though, he has been a rock for most of the year and you see how much he’s missed in those eight games since going down in San Francisco. The defence is clearly missing its biggest cog.
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Precious Achiuwa: C-
Precious too took his turn on the injury list. Missing 24 consecutive games, more than anyone on the team not named Otto Porter Jr. When he did return, he started to look like that aggressive scorer and defender Torontonians fell in love with following last year’s all-star break. Basically, his season got good again in January after the elongated absence. The arrival of Poeltl means his role likely changes again assuming an Anunoby return, but his impact is going in the right direction.
Chris Boucher: C
The energy man off the bench can never be faulted for effort. But like the bulk of his teammates, he has had his struggles, though his have been on the shorter side comparatively. January was his toughest month, when his numbers slipped and so too did his minutes. He was at least part of the reason the bench came up short. He got in a bit of a funk, but found his way out in February and is back being the spark off the bench that seems destined to be his role on this team.
Thad Young: C
Tough to grade a guy whose biggest impact might be off the court, considering his minutes and role. But for the most part when called on Young has been solid, giving the Raptors that little bit of scoring with the calming presence on the defensive end when it comes in. Young though doesn’t get off without some responsibility for the bench’s lack of production at times.
(We cut it off at the top eight as the minutes for the rest of the team have been limited.)
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