The Toronto Raptors had a very disappointing season in 2020-21. The squad never fully recovered after losing All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard and while they made the postseason in the NBA Bubble last summer, the season that just passed was a realistic showing of strength for the roster. Now, coming into this season, the only Canadian team kept the most important piece, forward Pascal Siakam, but lost long-time fan favorite guard Kyle Lowry, who left to join Jimmy Butler in Miami.
They did get guard Goran Dragic back, but his arrival was not without controversy. The Slovene was caught stating that Toronto is not his preferred destination and was forced to issue a statement, apologizing to Raptors fans. Regardless of the controversy, his veteran presence should help Toronto reach the postseason in the Eastern Conference.
However, it is clear that the straight Lowry for Dragic swap is not going to be the deciding factor in what the Raptors do next year. Since they did have a pretty quiet summer, true progress must come from within. The X-Factors of the upcoming season will, most likely, be now-veterans OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet. The forward and guard, respectively, did take steps forward last year, but this year will be the decider, regarding whether these two players have the quality to be good second and third options.
Fred VanVleet cashed in on an amazing Finals run two years ago and received a massive extension in November of 2020. At that point in time, it was only natural that the point guard receives that contract. Any other team in the league with the cap space was ready to provide it to him and it was a pill that the Raptors simply had to swallow. While he has upped his level of play, it still seems underwhelming for a player that was supposed to take a giant leap forward in terms of offensive prowess.