Just like that, we’re back! Kind of.
The Toronto Raptors preseason slate tips off tonight as the team faces the Sacramento Kings in Vancouver, British Columbia. The team has been out west all week for training camp, having their annual open practice, and getting used to all the changes surrounding the team. This game will mark the first time that Darko Rajakovic and his staff lead the Toronto Raptors since being hired.
There is also a lot of change on the roster as well. Along with Fred VanVleet leaving to sign a multi-year deal with the Houston Rockets, it will also be the first time in a Raptors uniform for players like Dennis Schroder, Gradey Dick, Markquis Nowell and some others.
Given that it is a preseason game, expect Coach Rajakovic to go deep into his bench and experiment with a bunch of different lineups.
The game will start at 8:00 p.m. EDT and is playing on Sportsnet.
The Toronto Raptors announced that Precious Achiuwa suffered a left groin strain in training camp and will miss a bit of time in the preseason. Which is unfortunate, given everyone is excited to see how Precious develops this year. He is heading into his fourth year in the league and the Raptors sure could use some depth in the front court.
Otto Porter Jr. may be another player not suiting up for the game. He had surgery that took him out of most of last season, and the team announced they are ramping him up slowly as we approach the regular season.
As for the Sacramento Kings, there isn’t any injury information for them at this time.
There have been some questions going into the season on who Darko Rajakovic will choose to start as we head into the season. He could go with a lineup of Schroder-Barnes-Anunoby-Siakam-Poeltl and give Schroder some starting minutes as the primary ball-handler. There has been a lot of talk as training camp has begun about how Coach Rajakovic wants to use Scottie Barnes as a ball-handler more this season, but that may be something that they gradually work towards as we get into the season.
The other option is having Schroder come off the bench and starting Trent Jr.-Barnes-Anunoby-Siakam-Poeltl. The benefit of this lineup is that these players are all used to playing with each other and the chemistry will be there. Since this is a preseason game though, and the idea is to be getting used to and trying out new lineups, I could see Rajakovic opting for the first scenario for this game.
Again, don’t be surprised to see some... interesting lineups tonight and for the rest of preseason. The coaching staff will be making tough decisions as well as trying to narrow down their rotation before the regular season starts. Rajakovic did mention on media day wanting to be able to go deep into his bench on any given night, so he will likely use these preseason games to test out different combinations of players.
The Raptors have been in British Columbia since right after media day, practicing together everyday and ramping up. From videos posted online, it seems like the chemistry is building easily and Rajakovic seems to be transitioning into his head coaching position well.
The team also held their annual open practice at Simon Fraser University this week. Fans were able to come in and watch the team scrimmage against each other.
There have also been some clips from media availability at training camp. Lots of questions about how the new coaching staff plans to use certain players — and if that usage will be different from last season. Obviously one of the big talking points has been who will be playmaking and playing point guard, but obviously there are questions regarding Pascal Siakam’s role. Darko gave an update on how Siakam is doing in training camp, saying the system of having him a little more off-ball has helped his efficiency.
"I'm really proud of him."— Amit Mann (@Amit_Mann) October 6, 2023
Here's Darko discussing Pascal Siakam's play in camp + a few practice clips.
More efficient offence was my hope. @SavHamilton11 clipped stuff from this too.
Coming off DHOs, Pindowns, cutting/moving into space to shift defences and some PnR. pic.twitter.com/P4l0UTQKlA
Obviously, it’s just preseason, so the result of the game isn’t too important — BUT it will be interesting to see how the team looks tomorrow.
Watch the Raptors first preseason game at 8:00 p.m. EDT on Sportsnet.