One thing a lot of the general media is not talking about when it comes to the Raptors is their margin for internal development from some of their important players.
Pascal Siakam will be entering his second year as the No. 1 scoring option for this team which also includes a sample size of what happened to him in the bubble where he said “I didn’t recognize myself.” At 26, Siakam has shown the ability to get better every year as outlined in a previous article and likely will continue to do so starting this season.
The same goes for 26-year-old point guard Fred VanVleet. He is going to be given the opportunity to have a bigger role in the offence this year as Lowry is getting up there in age and likely wants to help hand the reins over to VanVleet as the point guard of the immediate future.
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Between 28 and 31 is when you can usually expect a point guard to hit the prime of their career, which means VanVleet only has room to grow as a finisher around the rim, isolation scorer and passer.
Then we move to OG Anunoby, who by the way will hit restricted free agency next offseason which is classified as a “contract year”. Anunoby is a defensive first player, whose strengths on that end specifically come in on-ball situations. He’s one of the best at it in the league in fact and could see an all-defensive nod as soon as this coming season.
Offensively, his 39 per cent from three-point range (despite only taking three attempts per game, most of which were of the catch and shoot variety) is very encouraging as a piece that can space the floor. However, what really is intriguing about Anunoby, is the flashes he showed attacking closeouts and making moves off the dribble.
His handle has slowly but surely gotten better and being 23-years-old and being thrusted into a more expansive offensive role, means he’s going to get a chance to showcase some things. Making a Siakam-level MIP jump is maybe unrealistic, but Anunoby becoming the fourth scoring option on this team by year’s end, is not out of the question.
What about Terrance Davis, who showed a ton of potential in his first year in a limited role, he’s still certainly an interesting development case. He’s going to have a chance to be relied on more consistently as an offensive force in his second season.
Finally, there is Norman Powell, who feels like 32 but is really still only 27. He has an $11.6 Million dollar player option for next season, where he hopes he can play well enough to be in a position to decline that.
Powell shot a tad under 40 per cent from three on over five attempts per game, and a career-high 57.5 per cent on two-pointers. Powell’s real flaw is decision-making and his limited ability as a passer, but there is no reason as to why he can’t become a better isolation scorer and improve his handle to compliment his overall game.
As you can see there is so much potential for internal growth and improvement, more than the general public seems to consider when gauging where the Raptors will finish this coming season. Look for improvement from one or more of these players to take a step forward this year.