Sunday, March 3, 2024

Midseason review: Raptors on the right track

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Alan Binder
Alan Binder
"Alcohol scholar. Twitter lover. Zombieaholic. Hipster-friendly coffee fanatic."

9th in the Eastern Conference after 41 games (21-20), the Raptors can still hope to secure a place in the playoffs. With many matches postponed in December due to the COVID-19 outbreak, they have some matches on hand on their opponents and could go up.

The Queen City representatives are unlikely to fly above the rest of the NBA by the end of the season and win titles of honor. With the departure of Kyle Lowry last summer, the team looked to the future and the current campaign was supposed to be a period of transition.

In this regard, the process of regime change went well. Fred Vanfleet took over the reins of the team. The 27-year-old goalkeeper leads Toronto on the field and in the locker room.

Pascal Siakam joined his teammates late due to a shoulder surgery that caused him to miss the start of the season, but he also established himself as an eventual captain. Recently, he even gave the best level of play of his career and could participate in the NBA All-Star Game at the end of February.

Seacam averages 21 points per game and leads the Raptors in rebounds (8.4). Month after month he plays more, produces more in almost every aspect of the game and establishes himself as a prime choice in attack. Against the Bucks on Saturday, he also scored the second hat-trick of his career, with 30 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. This also confirms that the team did well by betting on the Cameroonian by awarding him a contract worth 130 million dollars.

Speaking of Siakam, the Raptors’ Achilles heel this season has been lacking in depth. Tested by injuries, including that of the Cameroonian to start the season, the team had to rely on its resources to survive at the start of the season.

The Raptors’ current standings is also the cost of a terrible November as the team lost 7 out of 12 games on its schedule, while among others affected by a long list of injuries.

We’ve seen recently that when their best players are healthy, the Raptors can compete with the best teams. They proved it against the Miami Heat on Monday, the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday and the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, among others.

Facing these title contenders, VanVleet, Siakam, OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. And Chris Boucher and rookie Scottie Barnes that the future is already rosy in Toronto.

We feel like we’re just starting to play togetherBarnes said after the loss to the Heat on Monday night. Once we have a full squad, another injury happens. We rarely have all of our players. […] We still have to adapt to each other’s game.

Siakam echoed his words: We continue to progress. We have faced many adversities, but we are struggling. The more we keep playing together, and if we have everyone […] We can be something special.

Boucher on his last miles in Toronto?

Who says mid-season should also have discussions about the trade deadline. The latter is set for February 10, which means that the hour for decisions is approaching for the leaders of the NBA teams. Logically, Raptors president Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster should turn some non-contracted players into draft picks, among other things.

Before the start of the 2021-2022 season, playmaker Goran Dragic’s name was already circulating in the rumor mill. The Raptors veteran, acquired by Kyle Lowry, has only played five games this season and hasn’t played for Toronto since November 13. The question is not whether it will trade, but where it will land.

The case of Chris Boucher is even more interesting as the deadline approaches. A free agent at the end of the season, the 29-year-old Quebec has proven his worth night after night to coach Nick Norse this season, so much so that he’s the nurse the nurse is using from the bench these days. – this is.

Boucher is the Raptors’ biggest bargaining chip this season. At 29, he does not fit into the team’s future plans. Isaac Bunga and Utah Watanabe will also be of interest to the other teams, but at a much lower cost and contribution.

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