2022-23 Kia Season Preview

2022-23 Season Preview: Toronto Raptors

After a relatively quiet offseason, Toronto is looking for continued growth from Scottie Barnes to return to title contention.

Raptors phenom Scottie Barnes could be primed for a big Year 2 in the NBA.

The Toronto Raptors are a weird team in more ways than one. Nine of their 14 players on guaranteed contracts are 6-foot-7, 6-foot-8 or 6-foot-9. They had some success last season with lineups that didn’t include anybody shorter than that, but when they were healthy, they started 6-foot-8 Pascal Siakam at the five. Kia Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes is part of that mid-sized group and it’s not clear what position he plays.

The Raptors are also weird in that they had a decent offense last season as one of the worst shooting teams in the league. In fact, they were just the second team in the 26 seasons of play-by-play data to have a better-than-average offense (in regard to points scored per 100 possessions) while ranking in the bottom five in effective field-goal percentage. They made up for their bad shooting (and bad shots) by taking care of the ball and crashing the glass, averaging seven more shooting opportunities than their opponents.

With their aggressive and “janky” defense, the Raptors promise to remain weird. They may have found a gem in Barnes, and his development (whether or not it leads to a more defined role) will remain a priority. But this team should once again compete for a top-six spot in the Eastern Conference, having added NBA champion Otto Porter Jr. to its collection of rangy forwards.


How good is Barnes going to be? While this Raptors team is very good, it’s lacking the star power needed to compete with the best teams in the league. There was (maybe) an opportunity to acquire a star this summer, but the roster stayed largely intact, and the Raptors are set to return players who account for a league-high 92% of last season’s regular-season minutes. But maybe the 21-year-old Barnes evolves into the star that can lead Toronto back to title contention. Knowing his trajectory — both how good and what kind of player he’ll be — would help Raptors president Masai Ujiri plan for both the short and long term. Year 2, with a season of experience and a summer of work behind them, is always a big one for players. This one could go a long way in determining the career path of the reigning Kia Rookie of the Year.


The Raptors’ defense has proven to be reliable, ranking in the top 10 in four of the last five seasons, with the only exception being their year in Tampa. If they can shoot better (and take better shots), they can take a step forward overall. But they’re still lacking a go-to guy that can really threaten opposing offenses, so creating those better shots is easier said than done. Even if they hit their ceiling, the Raptors are a tier below the best teams in the East. Projection: Playoffs.


0 — The Raptors were the only team last season with fewer than two players with an effective field-goal percentage at or above the league average (53.2%) on at least 100 field-goal attempts, and they had zero.

— John Schuhmann


Fred VanVleet: Handsy defender who ranked second in the league with 3.9 deflections per game. Limited (especially in the paint) by his size, but has extended his range.

Gary Trent Jr.: Handsy defender who ranked third in the league with 1.7 steals per game. Shot creation is needed, but shot selection (early-clock pull-up 2s) can be an issue.

Scottie Barnes: His 3-point shooting (30.1% last season) needs work, but shot an impressive 59.1% inside the arc (3rd among 22 non-centers with 200+ attempts) after the All-Star break.

OG Anunoby: Hasn’t quite made the leap some have hoped for and has missed 63 games over the last two seasons, but is still just 25 as he enters his sixth season.

Pascal Siakam: Rebounded from a rough season in Tampa to earn third team All-NBA honors. One of only five players to average at least 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists per game.


Precious Achiuwa: Possible starter (Khem Birch would be another) if they don’t stay small. Bouncy and undersized big who attempted 156 3-pointers after taking just one as a rookie.

Chris Boucher: His 3-point percentage saw a big drop (to 29.7%) last season, but the Raptors were still at their best (+5.3 points per 100 possessions) with him on the floor.

Otto Porter Jr.: Revived his career with a season in Golden State and is still just 29. Brings some much-needed floor spacing and 3-point shooting (40.4% in the 2022 playoffs).

Thaddeus Young: Fit in well upon his arrival at the deadline. Now 34 years old, but doesn’t have to play every day given the glut of forwards on the roster.


How the Raptors have fared stats-wise over the last 5 seasons …

Season W L PCT OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank Playoffs
2021-22 48 34 0.585 112.1 15 109.9 9 +2.2 12 X
2020-21 27 45 0.375 111.6 16 112.0 15 -0.4 19
2019-20 53 19 0.736 110.8 13 104.7 2 +6.1 4 X
2018-19 58 24 0.707 112.6 5 106.8 5 +5.8 3 X
2017-18 59 23 0.720 113.0 2 105.3 5 +7.7 2 X

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

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John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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