With Toronto Raptors tip-off just one sleep away, let's take a look at where the roster stands heading into the season.
Don’t let last year’s disappointing three-point shooting numbers fool you, Siakam took a step forward as a multi-talented forward. His passing improved and his assist numbers jumped to 4.5 per game. He’s still about a month away from returning, but when he’s healthy he should be poised for a bounce-back year.
With Kyle Lowry in Miami, this is officially VanVleet’s team from a leadership standpoint. He’s going to be asked to take on a lot of the team’s ball-handling duties, especially with Siakam out. Expect his efficiency to drop a little bit with teams zeroing in on him more this year.
Anunoby is the big wildcard this year, but all indications are he’s in for a big season. He looked like a more refined offensive player in the preseason and his defense hasn’t slipped. If he can continue to lockdown the NBA’s best players and score off the dribble, he’ll be a star for Toronto.
Barnes’ scoring is still a long way away, but he’s an exceptional passer for a rookie and his defense should be a difference-maker this year. It’ll be an up-and-down season for sure, but it’s easy to see why Toronto fell in love with the FSU product in the draft.
So much of Toronto’s versatility comes down to the fact that Achiuwa isn’t a traditional big by any means. He’s shown he can be a capable ball-handler who can kickstart the fast break and make plays in transition. How he fares against the league’s biggest bigs will be telling for the Raptors’ long-term success.
Gary Trent Jr.
It’s going to be an up-and-down year for Trent who is a notoriously streaky shooter. He looked like a much better defender in the preseason, but he still takes a lot of low-percentage shots. Considering Toronto’s need for floor spacing, his shooting will be key for the Raptors.
Don’t expect Dragic to stick around Toronto all season, but he should provide some veteran savviness and ball-handling skills for a team short on both characteristics. Assuming he fares well before the deadline, he would certainly be an asset for anyone looking to add some bench ball handling later in the year.
Birch is still ramping things up a little bit after contracting COVID-19 during the preseason, but he should see part-time center duties once he’s fully ready for action. He’s not quite as dynamic as Achiuwa offensively, but he’s a solid rebounder with enough experience to hold his own against bigger bigs.
Boucher is working his way back from finger surgery and should be ready on or around opening night. Toronto needs a little bit more consistency from Boucher who is looking to take his defense to another level in 2021. At 28 years old, don’t be shocked if his name is mentioned at the trade deadline.
Flynn seemed to be in Nick Nurse’s doghouse in the preseason due to a lack of offensive aggressiveness. The sophomore guard is a talented shooter, but the Raptors need him to be decisive and attack the paint to create for others. The more he slows things down, the deeper he’ll sink in Toronto’s rotation.
One of the biggest surprises of the preseason, Mykhailiuk appears to be a very solid rotation piece for Toronto. He flashed a more well-rounded offensive arsenal than might be expected from a sharpshooter. With COVID protocols in the rearview mirror, Mykhailiuk should have a bounce-back season in 2021.
The shoo-in for one of Toronto’s final three roster spots, Watanabe continued to impress Nurse with his high basketball IQ, defensive know-how, and hustle. He’ll miss the start of the season with a calf injury, but he should see some end of the rotation minutes as a 3-and-D wing.
Rexdale’s finest is the quintessential Raptor this season. He’s long and versatile and will wow you in transition, but his shooting and half-court skills leave a lot to be desired at this point. Banton may have jumped Flynn in the preseason but expect the rookie to spend most of the year developing with the Raptors 905.
Justin Champagnie (Two-way contract)
Another big surprise of the preseason, Champagnie received a ton of praise from the Raptors as a skilled rebounder and do-it-all wing. Champagnie could see some rotation minutes early in the season with so many injuries in the wings but expect him to spend most of his season with the Raptors 905.
David Johnson (Two-way contract)
The biggest unknown from the preseason, Johnson played just 26 minutes and has been out of the spotlight ever since Toronto drafted him 47th overall. He’ll spend the year in the G League as the Raptors try to mold him into a useful rotation player.
Isaac Bonga (Partially guaranteed)
The 21-year-old Bonga received a lot of praise from Nurse as a hard-working and skilled point forward. He’s a bit of a developmental project, but he’s a skilled ball-handler for a 6-foot-8 forward and it appears Toronto is willing to take a chance on him for the next little while.
Sam Dekker (Partially guaranteed)
Dekker beat out Ishmail Wainright for Toronto’s final roster spot, but it appears that battle isn’t over. The Raptors are slightly above the luxury tax threshold and both Dekker and Bonga have pushed their contract guarantee dates to Nov. 6, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Dekker is going to have to continue to shoot the lights out to stick around this year.