Who has been the standout player for the Toronto Raptors?
The Toronto Raptors played their 27th season in the NBA during 2021-22. They still have high hopes of winning the Finals this year but how has their season gone and who have been the most important players for them so far?
Can they achieve an NBA Finals win this year? As the end of the season is approaching, let’s take a look at the road so far.
A Recap of the Regular Season
The Raptors missed the playoffs in 2021, which was the first time in eight years that they failed to get there. They returned to Toronto in 2021, after a spell in Tampa, and enjoyed a better season as they clinched a spot in the playoffs.
They ended the regular season in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, with a total of 48 wins and 34 losses. In the playoffs, they face up to the Philadelphia 76ers, with the first game in the series scheduled for April 16.
The 76ers are slight favorite to go through this round. In terms of the overall odds for the NBA finals, we can see that the Raptors are listed at +6000 currently. This leaves them well behind the favorites, the Phoenix Suns, who are at about +260 to win the trophy. So who are the outstanding Raptors players who could upset the odds?
Scottie Barnes joined the Raptors in the 2021 draft and he quickly started scoring points and impressing the fans. He played his college basketball as a consensus five-star recruit for Florida State and was the fourth overall pick in the NBA draft.
Scottie scored 12 points and got nine rebounds on his pro debut. In March of this year, he got a record-high total of 31 points together with 17 points in a game against the LA Lakers. He’s currently one of the favorites to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award and a strong postseason would make that more likely to happen.
The Nigerian played his full college career for the Memphis Tigers before joining the Miami Heat in the 2020 draft and then moving to Toronto the following year. He has quickly become one of the key players for the Raptors and has been an important part of their drive to the Finals in 2022.
Precious has been turning in some powerful performances lately and could be a big player against the 76ers and beyond if they manage to get further into the playoffs. The 6’8” power forward was recently asked who the NBA MVP is and he said Pascal Siakam would get his vote, so let’s look at him next.
Born in Cameroon, Pascal Siakam moved to the US and played college basketball for the New Mexico State Aggies before heading to the NBA. Toronto selected him as the 27th pick in the 2016 draft and he played a big part in the Raptors claiming the NBA championship in 2019.
In recent weeks, Pascal has been scoring freely, with a career-high of 40 points against the Boston Celtics followed by the third triple-double in his career against the 76ers. In fact, he’s having the very first 20/5/5 season in the history of the franchise, with his stats currently at 22.7/8.5/5.3.
Brooks played college basketball for the Cougars of the University of Houston. He went undrafted in the 2019 draft but has worked hard to get to the NBA. After a short spell with the Houston Rockets, Armoni joined the Raptors in March 2022 and recently signed a two-year deal to stay in Toronto.
Coach Nick Nurse called the 6’3” guard a good shooter and was pleased at his willingness to take on a difficult three-pointer in the fourth quarter of their recent game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s scored six points or more in his last three games and could surprise a few people in the Finals.
Fred VanVleet has been playing with the Raptors since he joined the Toronto team in 2016. This came after he had played as point guard for the Wichita State University and had helped the Shockers to an undefeated regular season.
He won an NBA championship with the Raptors in 2019 and has become a hugely influential player on the team. Fred has been highly productive in 2022, scoring his first career triple-double in January and following this with a new franchise record for season three-pointers. He has also become only the fourth undrafted player in history to get named as an NBA All-Star.
What Are Their Chances of Success?
The Raptors are at long odds to win the NBA Finals this year, but it certainly isn’t impossible for them to do so.
Some of their best players appear to be coming into the best form of their careers at exactly the right moment, so anything can happen once their postseason games begin.