Raptors: Finding Silver Linings in a Challenging Season

The Toronto Raptors' 2022-23 season was one to forget, but with every challenge comes an opportunity for improvement. The team ended the season with a 25-57 record, the fifth-lowest winning percentage in franchise history, and the second-longest losing streak in team history.

Despite the challenges, there are silver linings to be found. The team hit the reset button on their operations, initiating necessary changes after a lawsuit, a betting scandal, and an iconic coach's rant fueled an already challenging year. The roster saw significant changes, with four key pillars of the franchise saying goodbye.

One bright spot was the team's improved offensive identity under rookie head coach Darko Rajakovic. The Raptors finished the year sixth in assists, with Rajakovic emphasizing a flex/motion offense that allowed players to make plays with the ball in their hands. The team also leaned into post-ups to accentuate the strengths of young phenom Scottie Barnes.

Barnes had a breakout year, averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. He also shot 34% from three-point range while taking five attempts per game. Joining him, rookie Gradey Dick proved he belonged in the NBA, evolving into one of the most potent shooters in the second half of the season.

The team also made good decisions at the trade deadline, dealig away veterans while keeping their young core of Barnes, Dick, and Pascal Siakam intact. The team also added valuable contributors in exchange for veterans, most notably acquiring Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett from the New York Knicks.

For the Raptors, the off-season brings more questions than answers. They lack size and versatility on the wings, finishing 26th in points allowed per 100 possessions. Still, the team has a solid foundation to build on as they continue to embrace change.

In conclusion, the Raptors' season was challenging, but necessary for the franchise to move in a new direction. While there are still questions looming, the team has a clear direction and a young core to build around. With the right moves this off-season, they could soon find themselves back in contention.