Raptors

Barrett is the Linchpin to the Raptors’ Rebuild

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On December 30th, 2023, the Toronto Raptors made a trade that headlined the basketball world.

After what seemed like years of trade rumors surrounding their prized forwards Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, they finally traded the latter to the New York Knicks. They received a package of RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and a 2024 second-round pick from the Detroit Pistons.

This trade signaled the start of their rebuild, made clear by the trade sending Siakam to the Indiana Pacers in January. Barrett’s fit with the Raptors has never gone into question, sliding immediately into the starting small-forward job. He also provides a scoring output similar to that of Siakam.

Age and Experience

What most don’t realize, however, is Barrett’s age.

Despite being drafted nearly five years ago alongside Zion Williamson and Ja Morant in the 2019 NBA Draft, he’s still 23, younger than other young Raptors like Quickley and Ochai Agbaji (both 24). This means that paired with his experience in the NBA having played with a playoff team like the Knicks, he still has time to grow and progress into the best player he can be.

He comes from a situation in New York where the expectation was for him to be a faultless star right away. Now, he’s in a rebuild in Toronto where expectations or questionable decisions won’t stunt or rush his development.

To a lesser extent, he also doesn’t have to worry about being a primary or secondary playmaker anymore.

The point guards the Knicks paired him with averaged below-average assists per game. This led to him expecting to be a secondary playmaker for the Knicks, and a primary playmaker at times. He’s now paired with Quickley, who has done a fantastic job facilitating for the Raptors, averaging 6.8 assists per game in his 38 games with the team.

Scoring Fit

In addition, Scottie Barnes also doesn’t have to focus heavily on scoring while alongside another volume scorer like RJ. This is something the Raptors will look to (re)build on. Scottie can also expect Barrett to space the floor and help with three-point shooting.

A lack of spacing plagued the Raptors for a good portion of this season. He shot an above-average 39.2% from beyond the arc in his 32 games with the Raptors, providing a breath of fresh air for the team as their three point shooting improved post-trade deadline.

Value and Potential

The value Barrett brings to the Toronto Raptors’ present and future cannot be understated.

He stands as star in the making, and one of the most underrated players in the league. His fit with Barnes and Quickley along with his knack for scoring pairs nicely with his above-average three-point shooting. He’ll be able to slowly but surely blossom into one of the league’s premier wings.

It’s up to Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster and the coaching staff to give Barrett the confidence and skill to succeed and take a big step in his game. A 25 point-per-game season could be the product of this— and if he achieves this, the sky is the limit for the budding star in the northern lights of Toronto.

About Omar Patel

Hey! I'm Omar Patel, a Raptors fan that also loves the Leafs, Cowboys and Blue Jays. I love Poutine, I play basketball and football, and I coach basketball. WE THE NORTH!

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