Regardless of how the season is rolling along, the Toronto Raptors have some real talent on their roster. Rather than rummaging through trade rumors (though you should totally check this link out), here’s a look at The Ringer’s top 100 rankings list. There’ll be some disputes and comparisons to players up and down the list.
If there were any player that embodied the current Raptors roster, it would be the rangy and rambunctious Pascal Siakam (but it’s a tight race). He’s spun and sprung his way up to 16th in The Ringer’s list. His development from secondary star to primary playmaker has been a fun ride, but things are starting to look stagnant.
It’s easy to talk about his strengths: versatility, defense, and slippery scoring. He’s not superhuman, and his rim protection and shooting are his only true drawbacks.
He’s an elite mismatch attacker, underrated glue guy (as in his “glue” skills are underrated), and a short-roll troller. He may not have the capacity to be one of the game’s greatest on-ball facilitators and creators, but he’s a worthy inclusion so high on the list.
Despite these commendations, he’s still arguably too high on this list. Slotted just ahead of Jimmy Butler, Damian Lillard, and James Harden, Siakam looks more like a comet in a sea of stars. Butler’s shown more offensive pop and is the better (statistical) defender. Just as versatile, Butler is even more disruptive than Siakam. Neither Lillard nor Harden can compete with Butler and Siakam on the defensive side, but the single-handed offensive zing and creation they bring are what sign their paychecks. Possibly because Lillard and Harden are no longer considered top-five or top-ten talents anymore, they may have become underrated. Siakam could play anywhere, but those two are the kind of players that carry their squads to victories.
OG Anunoby doesn’t leave an offensive stone left unturned. Whatever he thinks he needs to do on defense… he’ll do it. You’d think every bucket given up was worth a negative million towards his salary.
He’s underwhelmed from a scoring standpoint. He’s by no means a detriment to the team’s offense, but he’s not scoring as efficiently as other players with as small of offensive loads as him. Despite flashing some improved shooting and self-creation from time to time, he’s not yet at an elite level.
Being ranked 43rd means, he’s ahead of guys like Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, and Robert Williams. That’s a respectable spot for one of the Toronto Raptor’s building blocks.
Scottie Barnes is having a sophomore slump, which may ultimately be because of an ankle injury he suffered earlier in the season. The most important thing to keep in mind about his slump is that it’s only really related to scoring and shooting. He’s actually increased his assist percentage, assist/turnover ratio, and has maintained the same rebounding percentage from last season. The only distance in which he’s improved his efficiency is from 25-29 feet, from 28.6% to 30.6%. Otherwise, he’s worse from every distance on the floor.
75th is the correct spot for him. Barnes is only 21 years old and in his second year in the NBA… he’ll be fine. There’s no need to pull a Kendrick Perkins and get impatient. If he never does improve, he’s still a highly versatile defender who makes plays and has a high motor.
Fred VanVleet himself has admitted this season has been a down one for him and the team. Nevertheless, VanVleet is the same old bundle of strength and energy he always was. He’s going through the same shooting woes as Barnes, but like Barnes, he’s maintained his defensive prowess.
76 is low, too low. 70, though not much of a jump, is where he should land. The Ringer currently has him behind Deandre Ayton and Keldon Johnson, who do both deserve to be on the list, just not ahead of VanVleet.
Gary Trent didn’t make the list, although he had to have been an honorable mention. The smooth shooter and feisty defender is most similar to Alex Caruso (87th) and Norman Powell (94th). Caruso is simply leaps and bounds better than Trent, and he may be underrated at 87th. Powell and Trent could easily switch spots. Powell distances himself from Trent due to his proneness to turn the ball over.
If he hits a hot streak scoring the ball (which always attracts attention), Trent could find himself on the list.