How Bad Will the Toronto Raptors Be This Season?

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The Toronto Raptors are entering a new era. Will the Toronto Raptors contend or end up in the basement of the Eastern Conference this season? We’re going to analyze the team’s outlook for this season.

I (SWJ Sports) was born and raised in Toronto. I’ve been a Toronto Raptors fan my entire life. I’m going to be the Raptors correspondent at Sports Hub for the upcoming 2023-24 NBA regular season.

Come along for the ride, as we have a profitable season betting on the Toronto Raptors.

Toronto Raptors Schedule Analysis and Important Dates

Here are some important dates to mark on your calendar, as we approach the new season:

  • When Do the Toronto Raptors Start Training Camp? Tuesday, October 3rd 2023
  • When Do the Toronto Raptors Start the Preseason? Sunday, October 8th 2023
  • When Do the Toronto Raptors Start the Regular Season? Wednesday, October 25th 2023

October is a busy month for Raptors fans. The Toronto Raptors start training next week in Burnaby, BC. The Raps will open the preseason against the Kings at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC. The team will play three preseason games before opening the regular season at home against the Timberwolves.

The NBA schedule-makers haven’t made it easy for the Toronto Raptors this season.

Toronto only have four nationally televised games this season (one on TNT and three on NBA TV).

The Raptors will play 14 back-to-back games, which is the second-most in the NBA and two more than last season. The longest homestand is five games, but the team has two six-game road trips. The Raps have six-game road trips between January 3rd – 12th 2024 and January 28th – February 7th 2024.

Toronto need to start fast, as January features lots of road games and travel.

Toronto Raptors Projected Rotation for the 2023-24 Season

First off, the Toronto Raptors changed head coaches. The Nick Nurse era is over. Nurse is with the 76ers. Toronto brought in Darko Rajakovic who was the Grizzlies assistant coach the last three seasons.

A head coach change was necessary after missing the NBA playoffs for the second time in three years. The Raps made the play-in tournament last season, but lost to the DeMar DeRozan-led Bulls.

Rajakovic has a lot to prove, as this will be his first head coaching job in the NBA. Nurse was an excellent strategist, but there were rumblings of locker room issues, which Rajakovic will need to address.

If this season goes south, Masai Ujiri could find himself on the hot seat.

After seven seasons with the Toronto Raptors. Fred VanVleet signed with the Rockets. Dennis Schroder is fresh off winning the FIBA World Cup MVP award and will take over starting point guard duties. Uriji also brought in Jalen McDaniels and Garrett Temple, but it has been a relatively quiet offseason.

Here’s the Toronto Raptors projected starting lineup for opening night:

  • Center: Jakob Poeltl
  • Power Forward: Pascal Siakam
  • Small Forward: Scottie Barnes
  • Shooting Guard: O.G. Anunoby
  • Point Guard: Dennis Schroder

I expect Anunoby to start at SG, which means Gary Trent Jr. will come off the bench initially. This will end up fluctuating based on chemistry, rest and performance as the season progresses. The Raptors need to lean on Anunoby and hope he takes a step forward on the offensive end this season.

Toronto drafted Gradey Dick with the 13th pick and he’ll be in the rotation immediately. Precious Achiuwa and Christian Koloko have upside. They need a bigger role in the rotation. Chris Boucher and McDaniels will eat up some minutes. Otto Porter Jr. is reportedly healthy, but coming off season-ending foot surgery.

The last three roster spots are open, but will likely feature Temple, Malachi Flynn and Thaddeus Young.

Siakam, Trent Jr., Achiuwa, Porter Jr., Young, Temple and Flynn are all free agents after this season.

Toronto Raptors Betting Results From Last Season

The Toronto Raptors went 41-41 last season, finishing last place in the Atlantic Division.

They were profitable at home (27-14), but struggled on the road (14-27). The Raptors were unprofitable against the point spread (41-39-2 / -$190 when betting $110 to win $100). However, they went 25-15-1 ATS at home (+$850 when betting $110 to win $100), which was the second-best mark in the league (62.5%) behind the Warriors. They struggled mightily in division games (4-12 / 6-10 ATS).

Toronto were also one of the most profitable teams to bet on the over. Toronto had an over/under record of 46-36 (56.1% – tied fourth best). That number improved slightly on the road. The Toronto Raptors went over in 24 of 41 road games (58.5%) and over in 32 of 52 games when favored ATS (61.5%).

Home court was huge for the Raptors last season and will be again this season.

How the Toronto Raptors Can Make the Playoffs

  • Toronto Raptors Playoff Odds: Yes (+175) vs. No (-220)

The Toronto Raptors are still in the Damian Lillard sweepstakes, but Lillard has made it clear he doesn’t want to be traded here. Toronto likely have the best trade package, but breaking up the team to bring in a disgruntled superstar doesn’t seem wise. However, landing Lillard would make the Raps contenders.

If the roster remains the same as it is now, making the NBA playoffs will be a tough task. The East will be tougher to navigate and they lost their second-leading scorer in Vanvleet (19.3 PPG). However, Vanvleet was inefficient last season. He shot 39.3% from the field, which was well below the other starters.

Here are several things the Raptors need to do to make the 2024 NBA playoffs:

  1. Defense First: Toronto allowed 111.3 PPG (6th) last season. The Raptors ranked first in turnover ratio (11.8%), steals (9.4), opponent points off turnovers (14.5) and opponent second chance points (11.4). They also ranked in the top ten in defensive rating (113.1).
  1. Speed Things Up: The Toronto Raptors had a 97.85 pace last season (25th). They need to play at a faster pace to generate more possessions. The defense is strong and more possessions on offense will lead to more scoring. Toronto averaged 17.7 fast break points per game (3rd) last season. Running the court more often will lead to more easy buckets in transition.
  1. Three-Point Shooting: VanVleet led the Raptors in three-pointers made (3.0 3PM per game) last season. He’s gone. Trent Jr. (2.5 3PM per game) and Anunoby (2.1 3PM per game) were the only other two players to average over two three-pointers made per game last season. There’s hope that Dick will be productive out of the gate, as he’s a three-point specialist. Toronto averaged 10.7 3PM per game (T27) and shot 33.5% on three-pointers (28th) last season.
  1. Division Rivals: If the Raptors want to make the 2024 NBA playoffs, they need to win against the Atlantic Division rivals. Going 4-12 against division rivals isn’t conducive to making the playoffs. In the 2020-21 NBA season, the Raptors finished third in the Atlantic after going 10-6 in the division.

How the Toronto Raptors Get the #1 Pick in the 2024 NBA Draft

The Raptors are lucky that their first round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft is protected.

Toronto’s first round pick is protected through selections 1-6. If things go terribly this season, Uriji will be required to make some big decisions. It has been rumored all offseason that the Raptors will seek out a Siakam trade before the trade deadline if they’re not in contention for the NBA playoffs.

If they trade Siakam during the season and tank, the Raptors could end up with the #1 pick.

Toronto Raptors Outlook for the 2023-24 NBA Season

We have a first-year NBA head coach, Schroder is replacing VanVleet and a large number of players are free agents at the end of the season. Those players are going to want to be paid and they could end up getting frustrated with their opportunities in the rotation, which would impact the locker room.

The Toronto Raptors started last season with a 16-20 record by the end of December. The roster is in a worse spot from a talent standpoint, but the chemistry could be better among the starters, as VanVleet won’t be chucking up shots on a large percentage of the team’s possessions.

Since winning the 2019 NBA Championship, expectations are through the roof for the Raptors. However, after winning the title, the Raptors have won one round in the NBA playoffs in the last four seasons.

I’m not high on the Raptors this season, but it’s still early. Maybe they pull off a Lillard trade and contend or they trade Siakam mid-season to start the rebuild. We won’t know until this team hits the court and we see how they perform. Barnes needs to be more efficient after his numbers dipped last season.

We’ll follow the Toronto Raptors all season and uncover the most profitable betting angles.