Another season of NBA basketball is upon us, and it feels like things are all neatly back in place for the Toronto Raptors. Despite the squad existing devoid of one Kyle Lowry heading into Wednesday’s home opener, they will be playing in front of a full crowd at Scotiabank Arena once again. All eyes will be on Scottie Barnes, as the highly anticipated (future All-) Rookie (First Teamer) makes his NBA debut, and OG Anunoby, as the fifth-year forward looks to replicate his preseason success when the games begin to matter. Pascal Siakam should also look to bounce back once he’s cleared to return to action, and Fred VanVleet will look to emulate Lowry’s missing on-court leadership. Then, there are also some new faces to look out for including Precious Achiuwa, Goran Dragic, Svi Mykhailiuk, Dalano Banton, and Justin Champagnie, plus, we’re finally going to get a chance to see what an all 6’9 lineup looks like! There’s a lot to get into, so without further ado, let’s see what our team’s predictions, expectations, and hot takes are for the 2021-2022 Raptors squad.
I’m calling the Raptors at 38 wins on the season. I think the East is super competitive, and the Raptors have too many players to develop this year, making it a partial rebuild. I’m hoping OG will have a breakout season. He showed some of the tricks he has in his bag during pre-season, and I’m super hopeful he can implement that in regular season games. At the very least, I think they’ll be a thrill to watch, and I’m so glad they’re back to being the only NBA team north of the border!
I think the Raptors will find themselves in a play-in spot by the end of the season with a 41-41 record. Precious Achiuwa would be my pick to have a breakout season given the rangy skillset that he’s shown off during Summer League and in the preseason. I also think that if the Raptors are winning enough games, Fred VanVleet has a good chance to make his first All-Star appearance. Upon his return from shoulder surgery, I expect Pascal Siakam to get off to a slow start, but to eventually turn it around after the new year. OG will also make the All-Defensive Second Team (finally) if he can stay healthy. Ultimately, this season is more about development than winning games. If I have any hot takes, it’s that Chris Boucher and Goran Dragic will not end the season with the Raptors.
I am surprisingly optimistic about this team, despite the key departure of Kyle Lowry. OG Anunoby is the clear breakout candidate for me, but I’ll also be keeping an eye on Precious Achiuwa. He has a lot of tools that Nurse and his staff can and will mold to help both him and the team improve. I also believe that Pascal Siakam will return to an All-Star level upon his return. Due to the media bias and his missed time, he will not make the team, but he will surely play like one. I also think that this season is mainly about development, but at the same time, they can definitely win games with this deep roster. I predict that the Raptors will finish the year with 44-38 record, a 6th seed finish, and a competitive first round exit in 7 games. Bonus take: Nick Nurse wins his second Coach of The Year award.
This season’s Raptors squad has the potential to surprise a lot of people. They’re going to be the most defensively versatile squad that the league has seen in a decade if they can get things clicking on that end of the floor, and they should be a nightmare in transition all season long. It should not be overlooked that the halfcourt offense is going to be ugly for a third consecutive season, however, with the likely emergence of OG Anunoby and the hopeful revitalization of Pascal Siakam, we can at least expect to get excited about what the future of this team beholds. My prediction is that the Raps will finish with a 40-42 record, slotting them in at the ninth spot in the East, and unfortunately, they will lose in the play-in tournament. Nonetheless, it should be a great experience for all of the young guys – most notably Scottie Barnes, who will make the All-Rookie First Team.
I have the Raptors surprising most people and finishing 6th in the East with a 45-37 record. I feel like this will be a breakout season for OG. With Pascal sidelined to start the season, OG will have the most significant offensive role he has ever had. I feel like the Raptors will have an All-Star this year, and if I had to pick a player, I would choose OG or Fred. Honestly, I’m uncertain if Pascal can bounce back, but in my opinion, this is his last opportunity to do so with the Raptors. I think OG should finally make an All-Defensive team, but he probably won’t due to the market he plays in. I feel like the Raptors are one of a few teams in the NBA who can manage to balance winning and development. The Raptors have too much talent on their roster to focus purely on development, but they also have a crew of young players who could flourish in a greater role. I’m a firm believer of trial by fire and I think the number one goal will be to compete. A run into the playoffs could be a valuable experience for our rookies. A lot of people are doubting Toronto this year, after a COVID-19 riddled season led to the Raptors collapse in Tampa Bay, and the departure of Kyle Lowry. Unfortunately, for those people I expect the Raptors to be shockingly competitive this season. A lengthy young team with unlimited defensive switchability, and a creative coach will be a tough out any night of the NBA season. I look forward to watching our young scrappy team go at it every night and develop along the way.