Raptors Wrap-Up: In-Season Adjustments
The Raptors started and quickly ended their In-Season Tournament run amidst a consistently inconsistent season.

The emotional rollercoaster that is the 2023/2024 Toronto Raptors’ season has brought excitement and disappointment with each win and loss– especially in the past few weeks.

The Raptors began their In-Season Tournament with a close loss to the first-place Boston Celtics. This was a game the Raptors needed to win for an excellent chance to progress into the tournament’s knockout stage. No stars on either side came through with a game-changing performance; the Raptors lost simply because they weren’t better than the Celtics—and right now, no team is. 

The Raptors lost to the red-hot Orlando Magic, 126-107 in their second In-Season Tournament game. They fell to 0-2 in In-Season Tournament play and were subsequently eliminated from the inaugural tournament. Unfortunately for the Raptors, they ran into the Magic, who were in the middle of a more than eight-game winning streak. 

The following night, they ended with an impressive 132-131 win against the Indiana Pacers. Pascal Siakam shined in this one with 36 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists. Scottie Barnes also made his mark with 20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, and four steals. This game is an example of the Raptors’ potential when Barnes and Siakam play their roles effectively—something the team hasn’t seen very often.

They followed this performance with another win against the struggling Chicago Bulls, their first and only In-Season Tournament victory. Former fan-favourite DeMar DeRozan was ejected in the final minutes of the game after the Raptors attempted to run up the score while they were already up big. Head coach Darko Rajakovic told DeRozan they needed to score because “it’s the In-Season Tournament,” but later admitted that he didn’t know they were already eliminated. 

The Raptors would later lose their final In-Season Tournament game to the Brooklyn Nets, finishing their first tournament with a 1-3 record.

This season, the Raptors have been consistently inconsistent and are constantly oscillating between the 10th and 11th seed in the Eastern Conference—more or less the same spot they’ve been in for the past three seasons. 

Though it can be demoralizing for fans to watch as teams like the Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic take leaps in performance this year, most are satisfied with their teams’ performance: “Honestly, I’m happy,” says Rohan Sharma, a third-year student at the University of Toronto Mississauga, “they seem a lot more competitive than most media outlets were projecting and have a good chance to make the playoffs.”

Another student and Raptors fan, Miguel Hipolito, shared the same sentiment: “I expect the Raptors to make the playoffs and become a potential sleeper to make a deep run.”

Fans have also recognized the inconsistency of Siakam and Barnes. It seems that when one plays well, the other plays mediocrely. In the first seven games of the season, Barnes averaged 22.6 points per game with a 25 per cent usage rate while in those same seven games, Siakam struggled with 15.4 points per game with a lower 20.8 per cent usage rate. 

Okay, so what? Well, in their next 10 games, Siakam’s usage rate grew to 28 per cent while Barnes’ fell to 21.9 per cent and at the same time, Barnes dropped to 16.5 points per game and Siakam rose to 23.2 points per game. This has only fueled growing calls to trade Siakam for a player who better complements Barnes’ playstyle. It’s clear that the Raptors will eventually have to give the keys to Barnes and allow him to lead the team without Siakam holding him back.

Raptors Wrap-Up Columnist (Volume 50) — Justyn is in his final year at UTM studying CCIT, with minors in Professional Writing & Communication and Computer Science. Sports is his passion and he loves to keep in touch with nearly every single one. Justyn’s always watching sports games, managing his fantasy teams, and listening to music in the music room. You can connect with him on Instagram or LinkedIn.


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