One Raptors Player Facing the Risk of Losing Their Starting Role in the 2023-24 NBA Training Camp



One Raptors Player Facing the Risk of Losing Their Starting Role in the 2023-24 NBA Training Camp


The Toronto Raptors faced setbacks in the previous season. After making a significant leap from 27 wins in 2020-21 to 48 wins in 2021-22, they failed to make the playoffs, finishing the regular season with 41 wins and 41 losses and losing disappointingly to the Bulls in the first play-in game.

This season, several changes are in store for the team. Until around the All-Star break, they maintained a relatively consistent small starting lineup, a small-ball, long-armed unit consisting of Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, and Pascal Siakam. VanVleet has since departed, signing a substantial deal with the Rockets as a free agent. His void is expected to be filled by Dennis Schroder, the recent FIBA World Cup MVP, who joined the team during the off-season on a two-year contract worth just over $25 million.

Apart from that, the Raptors are likely to continue exploring the potential of their multi-winged lineup, anchored by Siakam, Barnes, and Anunoby. This trio has the potential to excel at both ends of the floor with the addition of Schroder as the point guard and a center. This leaves one member of their most common starting lineup from the previous season as the most likely candidate to lose his starting position: Gary Trent Jr.

Gary Trent Jr. has been a consistent presence in the Raptors’ starting lineup since joining the team in 2020. In his first season, he started 15 of 17 games, and in the next 69 out of 70. This trend continued for the majority of last season, with the talented shooter starting in 43 of his first 53 games. His consistent performance during this time, averaging close to 20 points and shooting in the high 30%s from long range while being a good defender, justified his role in the starting lineup.

However, the Raptors have realized that having a traditional center alongside their versatile lineup creates a more balanced starting group than two guards. Consequently, they acquired Jakob Poeltl to the team. With Poeltl, the coaching staff opted for a bigger lineup, starting the 7’1″ Austrian and moving Trent Jr. to the bench for the final games of the season.

This approach is likely to continue in the 2023-24 season. The Raptors have extensively explored their small-ball lineup, featuring 6’8″ Barnes and/or Siakam at center, but it fell short of expectations last year. Poeltl will almost certainly start to provide the rim protection that was lacking with the smaller lineup. This leaves only one guard spot available alongside Anunoby, Barnes, and Siakam. While these players can handle the ball, they benefit from having a traditional point guard like Schroder on the floor rather than someone like Trent Jr. Furthermore, Trent Jr.’s scoring ability makes him an ideal player coming off the bench alongside the second unit. Given Schroder’s strong performance at the FIBA World Cup, he is the frontrunner for the final starting spot, and Trent Jr. is likely to transition to a bench role.


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