What’s Next for the Toronto Raptors?

Written by: Callum McIntyre

Analytics by Matthew Sharpe

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The Toronto Raptors have been swirling around trade rumors for the last few seasons, but on December 30th, the Raptors finally bit the bullet and completed a trade that sent OG Anunoby to the New York Knicks. Not soon after, Pascal Siakam was sent out to the Indiana Pacers. With the Raptors struggling this season and sitting outside the play-in spots, Masai Ujiri decided to trade away those Raptors stars and start a new era of Raptors basketball. Now we have to wonder, what is next for the Raptors?

Trade Returns

The Raptors acquired Canadian native RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and a second-round pick in the OG trade that sent him to the Knicks. While RJ Barrett is seen as the biggest name in this package, Immanuel Quickley was truly the biggest get. Quickley had shown promise on the Knicks but was always in a limited role in New York. Toronto is hoping that Quickley can take the next step and become a fringe All-Star Guard. In the graph below, we can already see the improvements in his game with larger responsibility. Masai and the organization are hoping that these improvements are only the beginning of a great career in Toronto.

Matthew Sharpe, QSAO

Along with IQ, RJ Barrett has also improved immensely since coming back to Canada. He has seen a substantial increase in his efficiency, aside from FT%. If this efficient version of RJ is here to stay, his increased 3PT% could really help this team blossom. The former third-overall pick is starting to look as though he can finally live up to his potential in Toronto.

Matthew Sharpe, QSAO

As for the 2nd round pick, which belongs to the Pistons in this year’s draft, the Raptors should hope to acquire an under-the-radar, high-upside player with that selection. 

Weeks after the OG trade, Siakam was dealt to the Pacers in a three-team trade with the Pelicans. The Raptors got back three first-round picks, along with Bruce Brown and Kira Lewis. Bruce Brown is on an expiring contract with a team option for another year and was a big part of the Denver Nuggets championship run last year. The first-round picks from Indiana are projected to be in the 20s, an area the Raptors have found success drafting in recent years, including picking Siakam with the 27th pick.

Deadline day quickly approached, and the Raptors made some more deals. Using their least valuable first-rounder in the 2024 draft, along with Kira Lewis and Otto Porter Jr., the Raptors acquired Kelly Olynyk and Ochai Agbaji from the Utah Jazz. Kelly Olynyk is a Canadian native on an expiring contract but should give the Raptors some solid big-man minutes. Ochai Agbaji is a solid young player who will provide some athleticism and defense. Along with that deal, Toronto traded away Thadeus Young and Dennis Schroder for Spencer Dinwiddie, who they would later waive. With this move, the Raptors dumped off some salary to give more flexibility for next offseason.

Current Roster Outlook

The Raptors certainly look different from their 2019 championship-winning team, with only Chris Boucher remaining, but there is optimism about the team’s future. The Raptors hope their young core of Scottie Barnes, Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett, along with veterans Jakob Poeltl and now Bruce Brown, will be enough for a playoff push next year. The Raptors will also hope for improvement from Ochai Agbaji and Gradey Dick, their first-round draft pick from this year. Kelly Olynyk and Gary Trent Jr. are also on expiring contracts, so it is yet to be determined if they will be around for next year. The front office has positioned this team to treat the rest of this year as developmental and then attack a playoff spot for next year.

The Canadian Press

Raptors Draft Pick 

A key part of a developmental year is owning your current draft pick, which the Raptors traded away last year to the Spurs for Jakob Poeltl. That pick does have a top-six protection, which means if the Raptors pick falls into the 1 to 6 range in the lottery, they will keep the pick. Otherwise, it will be given to San Antonio. At the time of writing, the Raptors have the 7th worst record, giving them a lesser chance than 6 other teams to get into that top 6. The Raptors keeping this pick could significantly increase this team’s outlook and future success.

Conclusion

Raptors fans can expect some fun basketball from this young team for the rest of this season, with more minutes given to younger players like Gradey Dick. This is because, ultimately, the goal for the organization should be to keep that first-round pick in order to make the playoffs next year. The Raptors may experience some growing pains the rest of the campaign but it may all be worth it. Come next year this team is primed for a good shot at the playoffs.

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