A season that promised to be perilous for the Raptors. Without placing them in the bottom of the table in the East, we still worried a lot about the possibilities of this team to go and grab competitive places. They finally made everyone lie. With a Pascal Siakam – Fred VanVleet duo, the Dinos had a great run despite this stoppage in the first round of the Playoffs, the Joel Embiid step being a little too high. Back on this great adventure.
WHAT TRASHTALK HAD ANNOUNCED
Kyle Lowry has said goodbye, and the Raptors are losing a franchise stalwart. Precious Achiuwa arrives, Gary Trent Jr. extends and Toronto manages to keep its GM Masai Ujiri. We welcome Scottie Barnes as the 4th choice of the 2022 Draft: the season can begin. But this one looks… complicated. Between loss of experience and offensive uncertainties, it is difficult to pretend to worry the competitors of the Eastern Conference. To see what the leaders of this team, Pascal Siakam (who is coming back from a long shoulder injury) and Fred VanVleet can achieve, but the depth of the workforce is worrying. In our crystal ball, we see 26/28 victories and a 12th/13th place at the end of the regular.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED
The Dinos start the season with a rotten game, in which they take 15 points at home against the Wizards. One advantage to this: they can only do better. They catch up quickly on the floor of the Celtics, with the first victory of the season and 25 points from rookie Scottie Barnes, 11/17 shooting. Very clean. The defense is quickly in place, and here is the first series of victories of the season which arrives at the end of October/beginning of November. Nick Nurse’s squad have won five games in a row. Fred VanVleet warms up and Barnes starts very very strong. He is shooting 18.1 points on 55.1% shooting and almost 9 rebounds in his first seven games. The team is running surprisingly well and good news, Pascal Siakam is making a comeback. Unfortunately, after five months in the infirmary, his first eleven games ended in nine defeats. November will be the worst month of the season for Toronto, despite a great OG Anunoby averaging 22 points. December is going a little better. Siakam and VanVleet take matters into their own hands and manage to carry their team over a few matches. We end 2022 with a big win at Scotiabank Arena for the reception of the Clippers: Siakam at 25 points, VanVleet at 31, Anunoby at 26 pawns. The result of this beginning of the season is far from being alarming, it is even almost encouraging with fifteen victories for 17 defeats on December 31st.
Can the Dinos claim play-in at the end of the season? Or even the Playoffs directly? For that, you have to start the new year well and that, Pascal Siakam & Co. have it in mind. They win the first seven games of 2022 with a monstrous Fred VanVleet. The unofficial Drake lookalike seethes and turns over 31 pawns over the period. Twenty days later, a new series arrives, and not just any series since it is the most beautiful of the Nick Nurse men’s season. It begins on January 29 in Miami where the two teams will need three extensions to decide. Victory for Toronto, with 33 points from Gary Trent Jr. The Raptors played eight and the starters each stayed on the floor for at least 54 minutes. Yeah, you could say they deserved the post-game shower. The victories are linked until February 10, that is to say for eight meetings in total. With a record of 31/23 at this point, the Dinos are already more successful than predicted for the entire season. We will have to count on them in the race for the Playoffs.
The fateful period arrives, when each match takes on a little more importance. A blow from Fred VanVleet? We forgive him, his exploits so far have earned him a place in the All-Star Game. In addition, his friends take over: Pascal Siakam is the lead, Scottie Barnes is getting stronger and every night, Gary Trent Jr. makes the Blazers regret the interest in Norman Powell. The Dinos crush everything in their path. The NBA looks like Jurassic Park with fourteen Canadian victories in the last 18 games of the season. Mister Siakam is running at 25.9 points in March and 28.4 over the five games in April. Regular record at 48/34, and a majestic fifth place in the East, towards the Playoffs. Wow! But in the first round, it’s a big piece that stands in the way of the Northerners. It must be said that it was difficult to avoid them this season in the East as there are so many of them. Hang Joel Embiid’s Sixers after a regular during which the Raptors spent a lot of energy? The challenge is immense. We recall that Pascal and Fred played 37.9 minutes per evening, the two highest averages in the entire League. And then Anunoby is at 36 minutes, Scottie Barnes at 35.4.
Beginnings of a difficult series where the Sixers are simply three notches above: 3-0 for the troop of Doc Rivers, we can already imagine the Raptors in Cancún. But the Dinos go back to 3-2 with a Siakam who scores more points than Jojo. Hope is reborn… before suddenly collapsing. In the second half of Game 6, Philly beat Toronto. A great boost. Nick Nurse and his protégés really have nothing to be ashamed of. Their consistency was exceptional with this top 6. Successful season, deserved holidays.
THE RAPTORS SEASON IN A FEW ARTICLES
- Official, Masai Ujiri remains at the head of the Raptors: the architect of the Dinos returns, here is the best news of the summer for Toronto
- OG Anunoby turns into a leader: confidence, address, defense and leadership on the menu, the Raptors rub their paws
- Fifth victory in a row for the Raptors: when it’s not Scottie or OG it’s Fred VanVleet, we can’t stop the Dinos!
- The Raptors will play without fans for the next 3 weeks: we will pass in 2022 but it almost feels like coming back in 2020
- Nick Nurse does not spare his Raptors: the holders spit their lungs, be careful not to burn the candle at both ends
- Raptors, the stakes of the end of the regular season: three questions that will punctuate the final sprint in Toronto
- The Raptors paid tribute to Kyle Lowry: respect, nostalgia and recognition, 115 seconds of happiness in this world of brutes
- Official, the Raptors will finish fifth in the East: the dynamic is crazy in Toronto, and it will be either Boston or Philly in the first round!
- Scottie Barnes elected Rookie of the Year 2022: after an XXL end of the season, the nugget from Toronto overtakes Evan Mobley at the buzzer!
- The Raptors are on vacation: one half in the nails and the other in the cabbages, fatigue took precedence over this Game 6
IMAGE OF THE SEASON
After a frantic race with Evan Mobley, Scottie Barnes is voted Rookie of the Year 2022 and is rewarded with a marvelous season in the Canadian franchise. Full-throttle debuts, versatility, consistency, brilliance and an XXL end to the season: the 4th choice has played like a vintage number 1 this season. The Raptors winger had a big impact on Toronto’s success with big production throughout the regular: 15.3 points on 49.2% shooting, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists , 0.7 blocks and 1.1 interceptions per night for Scottie. He is the first rookie to walk the courts for more than 35 minutes on average in a team that has qualified for the Playoffs since… Derrick Rose in 2009. Congratulations kid, you’re already big. Can’t wait to see his next seasons.
THEY ARE HOT: FRED VANVLEET AND PASCAL SIAKAM
The two leaders in Toronto. VanVleet warmed up and had a successful season at the end where he always took responsibility. He released a regular 20.3 points and 6.7 assists, both NBA career highs. Rightly rewarded by his first selection at the All Star Game, something tells us that it will not be his last. Siakam meanwhile, had just returned from a five-month shoulder injury but quickly found his feet. The interior has dominated a bunch of opposing rackets this season, evidenced by his 22.8 pawns and 8.5 rebounds per night. He was at the forefront of the success of the Dinos, especially at the end of the season. The duo will not have been idle, each with 37.9 minutes per evening on the floor. Unfortunately, they saw their season come to an end in the first round of the Playoffs against the Sixers. A kind of bill linked to the energy – not lost – spent during the regular.
THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE SEASON
A lack of bench depth. As mentioned above, this season, VanVleet and Siakam are the two NBA players with the most minutes per night (37.9), while Anunoby, Barnes and Gary Trent Jr. are among the top 25. On the bench – basically – we could only count on three guys in the rotation: Precious Achiuwa, Chris Boucher and Thaddeus Young at the end of the season. The former played 27.8 minutes per night and managed to be productive with 9.1 points and 6.5 rebounds. The second has been very valuable too, Boucher being the Dino who has played the most games this season, with 80 of a possible 82, at 21.1 minutes per night, 9.4 points and 6.2 rebounds. And then Young joined Toronto in February, playing 26 games there and scoring 6.3 points per night in just over 18 minutes. For the rest, it was not crazy. Very average contributions from Malachi Flynn, Khem Birch, Sviatoslav Mykhaïliouk, Yuta Watanabe or Dalano Banton. This was also felt in the Playoffs. Difficult to breathe his holders when your bench struggles to stay the course, especially in such important matches.
Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa are still under contract next season. We will normally keep this core with the leaders who will not move, and Nick Nurse should keep the controllers of this team. Thaddeus Young and Chris Boucher will be ones to watch this summer as free agents. Both are coming off a great season, and Masai Ujiri will surely try anything to keep at least one. Nick Nurse will therefore have the same large base as this year, but rookies off the bench would be welcome. A contribution to the racket would do the Raptors great good. Indeed, Pascal Siakam has stuck with all the pivots this season, and basically he is more like 4 than 5. In short, there is potential and balance in this squad, with experience and youth.
A balance sheet full of satisfaction as the season has been good for Canada. Beginnings not ridiculous but not breathtaking either, then progress punctuated by a magnificent direct qualification in the Playoffs.