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Preview 2022/23 | Toronto bets on continuity and versatility – US Sports – US Sports –

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In the midst of training camp, USA Basketball continues its traditional presentation, team by team, of the upcoming NBA season. This takes, as every year, the form of a countdown, from the worst record in the league to our favorite for the title of champion.

We continue today with the Raptorsalways led by the inventive Nick Nurse. While we didn’t really know what to expect last season, the Raptors still climbed to 5th place in the East, and they will once again advance in the shadow of the Bucks, Celtics, Heat , the Sixers or the Nets. However, be careful not to underestimate this group, which is difficult to maneuver and which intends to play the spoilsport in the East…

With stability and versatility as the watchwords of their new campaign, the Canadians are thus a scarecrow figure par excellence. Carried by an All-Star tandem, Fred VanVleetPascal Siakamsurrounded by quality soldiers (Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr, etc.), they seem sufficiently provided, welded and balanced collectively to do at least as well as in 2021/22. That is to say reach the playoffs without going through the “play-in” box.

Still, the density of the Eastern Conference is no longer to be demonstrated now and that the slightest air pocket can be paid for in cash. That’s good: Toronto just comes out of a season without a false note, or almost. « Almost », because it ended with an ultimately logical elimination against Philadelphia in the first round, and individual or collective limits particularly exposed.

Proof that these Raptors still have a lot of room for improvement before they can hope to (re)play the title. It is no doubt also for this reason that their leaders are on the lookout and are trying to recover the last piece missing from their puzzle: a Super star

SUMMER MOVEMENTS

Arrivals : Otto Porter Jr. (Warriors), Juancho Hernangomez (Jazz), Christian Koloko (Draft)

Departures : Yuta Watanabe (Nets), Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Knicks), Isaac Bonga (Bayern), Armoni Brooks (Hawks)

PLAYER TO WATCH: SCOTTIE BARNES

Reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes surprised many on his league debut. Productive and influential in attack and defense, versatile as possible and surprisingly mature in his game, he seems to be the only untouchable in the Canadian squad today, as his potential seems enormous.

It is no coincidence that Masai Ujiri categorically refused to part with it, even in a possible exchange for Kevin Durant…

The ideal prototype of the basketball player of the future, the 4th choice of the 2021 Draft is therefore called upon to become, in the long term, Toronto’s « franchise player » and his 2022/23 exercise will be closely scrutinized. Indeed, it could be that his individual progress determines a good part of his team’s season. In the shoot of course, but also in the handling of the ball, in particular to allow Fred VanVleet to breathe.

In any case, if the development of Scottie Barnes as a “point forward” follows its course as expected, it would sometimes result in an experimental and to say the least imposing five on each side of the floor, with OG Anunoby, Otto Porter Jr, Pascal Siakam and Precious Achiuwa by his side. Basketball 3.0 par excellence?

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Average age: 26 years old

Payroll: $169.8 million (14th)

THE IDEAL SCENARIO

With a tactician like Nick Nurse on their bench, the Raptors never cease to surprise and defy the odds. Guided by their starred doublet Fred VanVleet – Pascal Siakam, their handyman Scottie Barnes as well as their metronomes OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr, the Canadians have a solid and complete major five. Especially since, behind them, Chris Boucher, Precious Achiuwa, Otto Porter Jr. and other Thaddeus Young or Khem Birch help maintain the pace when the incumbents are resting a minimum.

It is therefore another year in the Top 6 of the East for Toronto, whose rotations are always limited on the outside, but which compensates by relying on the versatility of its entire workforce. In particular that of Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam, point forwards in progress, which relieves Fred VanVleet and allows him to last the whole season at full speed. Consequently, this one arrives in the playoffs being fresher than in 2021/22 and it is obviously a very nice bonus…

With an atypical and modern style of play, where the majority of players measure between 2m00 and 2m06, are athletic, physical and able to « switch » permanently, the troop of Ontario is the kind of itchy hair that is best avoided in the playoffs. Because, even if it still lacks this element of being able to win matches on its own, as Kawhi Leonard could be at one time, this group is so tightly knit and dense that it seems to be able to hinder any opponent and go through at least one lap…

WORST SCENARIO

A bit more expected than last season, where they have long advanced in the shadows, the Raptors are struggling to reproduce similar performances collectively. It must be said that the East has clearly strengthened this summer and, “weighed down” by the stability of their workforce, the Canadians are quickly unable to aim for the Top 6 of their conference again. They who still suffer from the absence of a player capable of making the difference by himself and a lack of solutions at the back, to blow Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr.

Precisely, rotations are still a problem in Ontario, the bench bringing little satisfaction and still pushing Nick Nurse to overuse his holders, at the risk of burning them for the spring, or even injuring them. The result of a failed — or rather neglected — recruitment to the 1/2 positions, of the insufficient development of Scottie Barnes in this role of point forward he is expected to occupy a day and the overall lack of 3-point skill. As for OG Anunoby, who continues to squat in the infirmary, or Pascal Siakam, who falls back into his failings in 2020/21, they disappoint and do not help to improve the results…

If they are certainly too talented and collectively armed to slip out of the Top 10, Toronto players must nevertheless go through the « play-in » to hope to play the playoffs. Not the scenario imagined at the start of the exercise, but a fairly logical outcome in the end, given their irregularity and their overall level.

EAST CONFERENCE
15 – Magic 14 – Pacers 13 – Plungers 12 – Hornets 11 – Knicks
10 – Wizards 9-Hawks 8 – Raptors 7 – … 6 – …
5 – … 4 – … 3 – … 2 – … 1 – …