The Toronto Raptors are not having a great season starting 7-10. However, if this season is a temporary set back, it could mean huge gains in the immediate future.
The Toronto Raptors should not fear failure this season as it may mean immediate success in the future. The team has started 7-10 and is ranked 10th overall in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. They are temporarily 22nd overall in the NBA. This means the Toronto Raptors may get a lottery pick for the first time since 2016, when they selected Jakob Poeltl ninth overall at the draft.
The Raptors’ management decided to invest heavily in Fred VanVleet this past off-season when they re-signed him to a four-year, $85 million contract. With VanVleet locked up, it’s time to build for the future, as this team has lost four starter quality players in the last two offseasons since winning the NBA title in 2019.
Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka have not been replaced with any one of similar quality. Further, the roster is filled with expiring contracts, including long-time standout but 34-year-old point guard Kyle Lowry and a player option in Norman Powell’s contract this summer. It provides the team with significant cap space with only nine players under contract beyond 2021, as per the website spotrac.com.
There are several options the Toronto Raptors could pursue in the summer of 2021 that would instantly restore this team to championship-caliber status.
2021 Lottery pick adds instant success to Toronto Raptors roster
There is generational franchise-changing talent available in the 2021 NBA Draft. It is a big if to expect that the Toronto Raptors will be bad enough to secure a top-five or ten selection this season at the draft. Assuming it happens, nbadraft.net suggests the Raptors should draft Jalen Green.
Jalen Green is a 6’8 guard with exceptional talent. He would instantly provide the Raptors with the size they lack at the guard position as he has a standing reach of eight feet five inches. He has great quickness, athleticism, ball-handling, and passing skills and is a good defender.
A lineup that features Green, VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam could restore the Raptors’ defensive prowess from last season. Green would also provide another player with the potential to attack the rim with force, an aspect missing from Toronto’s offensive attack.
Green signed as a member of the G-League Ignite team rather than attending college. This decision could further advance his development by playing semi-pro basketball as opposed to playing amateur ball.
While the Raptors might be slightly too good to select a player like Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, or Jonathan Kuminga, Masai Ujiri could be spoiled for choice if he ends up getting. top draft pick.
Free Agency has never been kind to the Toronto Raptors, but 2021 could be different
Free agency has always been an underwhelming experience for the Toronto Raptors, with signings like Hedo Turkoglu, DeMarre Carroll, C.J. Miles, Tyler Hansboro, and Alex Len highlighting the Raptors’ inability to secure quality talent via the free agency market.
However, should the Raptors secure a player of Green’s caliber at the draft, they will need to add a quality center to the roster. While Rudy Gobert’s name is off the list, as he signed a supermax deal with the Utah Jazz at five years, $205 million, there are options.
At the center position, Serge Ibaka can also opt-out of his two-year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers at the end of this season and return to Toronto. However, if he is bitter about being lowballed by Raptors management in contract negotiations this past off-season, there are other potential candidates.
Andre Drummond is a free agent in 2021 after making $28.75 million this season playing in Cleveland. Drummond is not a three-point shooter but is an automatic double-double machine, which he has been for 10 consecutive seasons. This year he is averaging 18.8 points and 15.1 rebounds per game. The Toronto Raptors are 19th in the NBA in points scored per game and 24th in rebounding. These are both categories that Andre Drummonds size and skill can help the team improve.
Signing Atlanta’s John Collins, who look for a team that could potentially offer him a greater offensive role than being designated as the Robin to Trae Young’s Batman, could be a very worthwhile pursuit for the Raptors.
Other options could help return the Raptors to the exploits that they were capable of over the last few years, but a step back this season to advance further in the future should not be feared but embraced as long as it is executed with a plan for success.