Welcome to our “everything is great/terrible” exercise, or, as the article title suggests, the Best/Worst Case for the Toronto Raptors! This is the place where we’ll be looking at the upcoming season for the Toronto Raptors and how it can go absolutely brilliantly, or stunningly terribly. One thing is for certain, someone will definitely be upset after reading this! You might be a person who might have a best case as your worst case. Perhaps even the inverse will come to pass. Regardless, this is an exercise rooted in love and misery and focuses singularly on Toronto’s best player by a country mile, Pascal Siakam. Strap in and enjoy the ride!
Best Case Scenario #1 - Pascal is HIM
Toronto Raptors’ beloved superstar Pascal Siakam, who, by all accounts actually wants to stay and play in Toronto, unlike every other superstar who has set foot on the Big Bank arena floor, re-signs long term with the team and isn’t traded away. With that thorny business put to the side, Raptors fans discover that the play from last year’s squad was…an aberration! Sadly, Fred VanVleet was, somehow, the root of the chemistry issue, but now that he’s gone, everything is hunky-dory and a vibe reset hits all the right buttons. The Raptors bob and weave throughout the season, stringing together more winning streaks than losing ones and the team gloriously finishes as the 5th seed.
No more major moves are made outside of the Pascal signing which means Scottie Barnes is tapped to play a hefty amount of point-forward while German-star Dennis Schröeder continues his dominating FIBA play by providing enough firepower and point guard play off the bench to carry the team if Scottie is sitting/struggling. All NBA-defender and 3-point marksman OG Anunoby finally develops an offensive creation game, which opens up opportunities for Pascal to find a hint of rest with the ball in OG’s hands. Gary Trent Jr. finds happiness in a starting SG role that is properly defined from the onset as he provides floor spacing for Pascal to operate with impunity. Finally, because there is a new coaching staff on board, Raptors players aren’t ground into the dirt by the time the midseason rolls along and there is a modicum of health! Otto Porter Jr. finally gets back to playing a full season of basketball and wouldn’t you know it, but Gradey Dick goes out and is solidly in contention for Sixth Man of the Year.
Verdict: Yes please!
Best Case #2 - Pascal is Shipped
All right, this one is a little less fun, but, there is a chorus of folks who believe this is the right way forward, so let’s take a look. After all of the smoke during the offseason that surely had fire as an origin point, Pascal Siakam ends up being traded right before the season opens and the Raptors receive a wealth of picks, pick swaps and two young, foundational, team-friendly contracts that align with Scottie, Gradey and OG as the elder statesman. While it certainly hurts to see Pascal thriving somewhere else, Raptors fans recognize that it’s time to reset the timeline around growing youth. While a hard reset isn’t in Masai Ujiri’s playbook, the rumblings of his job security force his hand to make a move that will certainly pay off down the line so long as ownership sees the vision.
Verdict: To be clear, in this scenario, the Raptors are capital B, BAD, so if this is what you want, be prepared to eat your sown oats.
Worst Case #1 - Pascal Isn’t Enough
Toronto Raptors’ beloved superstar Pascal Siakam, who, by all accounts actually wants to stay and play in Toronto, unlike every other superstar who has set foot on the Big Bank arena floor (heard this one before?) isn’t traded away; however, the play and chemistry from last year’s squad was…not an aberration! Siakam is somehow at the root of the chemistry issue with the team and the bad vibes continue bad vibing. Raptors fans see a repeat of last year where the team isn’t good enough to make any noise in the playoffs — shoutout Diar DeRozan — and not bad enough to land a high lottery pick. This leads to the firing of Raptors’ saviour Masai Ujiri due to his insistence on leading another run-it-back campaign and the Raptors are a rudderless shell. Hell, let’s go further. Scottie Barnes doesn’t take a leap in his progression, he actually regresses with the negativity surrounding him. Gary Trent Jr. isn’t happy with his role as a 6th man and demands a trade. OG, who definitely is not going to be picking up his player option in any of these scenarios, rules Toronto out entirely at the end of the season because of how horribly the season was managed and leaves for nothing.
Verdict: I’m not feeling so well.
Worst Case #2 - Pascal Isn’t Worth Enough
The trade bells ring loudly in sorrow as Pascal Siakam ends up being traded and the Raptors receive a middling package of picks, one lousy pick swap and money-matching contracts that leave the Raptors barren and bad for the foreseeable future. While the bad part for the upcoming season is good, the return on Pascal Siakam’s superstardom isn’t nearly substantial enough, as, how could it be when he reportedly won’t resign with the team trading for him, even though he’s a player whose output from last season was only matched by players who are considered the best of the best (we’re talking, Jokic, Giannis, LeBron and Luka…that’s the whole list!). Poeltl can’t believe he’s been roped into a second San Antonio Spurs situation and is now separated from his bestie again...no one is happy, except for maybe Scottie Barnes who will undoubtedly have the ball in his hands, but a whole lot less help to lift his game. Life is miserable. I hate this article, why did I write it!?
Verdict: Please let Best Case Scenario #1 be the one the Raptors land closest to. Pleeeeeaaseeeeee!