Last season, the Toronto Raptors impressed a lot of people by finishing 48-34, giving them the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, and then taking two games from the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs.
That success, combined with a relatively young core, led to some optimistic expectations for this season.
But past the midway point of the campaign, Toronto is 20-25, and it looks like the best the team can do this year is win the play-in tournament and get run out of the gym in the first round of the postseason.
There have been many rumors that if things get out of hand for the Raptors, executive Masai Ujuri may decide to blow it up.
He may not have made that decision, but he should.
They have a few relatively high-salaried players who may be able to fetch them either some young prospects or draft picks on the open market, either by virtue of providing more value to a contending team or salary cap relief in the near future.
The Raptors may not be able to tank enough after the trade deadline to have a good shot at drafting Victor Wembanyama, but they could at least clear their financial books and perhaps attract a superstar free agent within a few years.
Should Anyone Be Untouchable?
Pascal Siakam is having a career season by averaging 25.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 6.4 assists a game, and at age 28, he has just entered his prime.
Second-year man Scottie Barnes is an interesting prospect who is contributing 15.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game.
At 6-foot-9, Barnes reportedly has a 7-foot-2 wingspan, and his ball-handling and open-court skills, not to mention his defensive potential, are somewhat reminiscent of Scottie Pippen.
Scottie Barnes' stats vs. New York:
— NBA Canada (@NBACanada) January 17, 2023
Siakam and Barnes look like a good core to center a quick rebuild around.