The Toronto Raptors exceeded all expectations this year and entered the playoffs as the fifth seed. However, they were eliminated in six games by the Philadelphia 76ers. One of the reasons for the downfall was a lack of shooting, especially after the injury of the first-time All-Star Fred VanVleet. In the 2021-22 regular season, VanVleet was second in the league in 3-pointers made. He made 3.7 threes per game on an efficient 37.7 percent. When it came to the playoffs, VanVleet played through a knee injury, and his three-point shooting fell to 33.3 percent. Before the all-star break, he was shooting lights out from three before sustaining the injury. After the break, there was a downfall in his efficiency which carried onto the postseason. VanVleet was not the only one who faced problems. Gary Trent Jr played through an illness in the first two games, and he shot 2-for-13 combined in Games 1 and 2.
The 76ers had a deep shooting advantage over the Raptors. As a team, the Raptors made 59 threes on 197 attempts while the 76ers made 82 threes on 201 attempts. In the playoffs, shooting 29.9 percent from three when the other team is shooting 40.8 percent means you’re facing an uphill climb every game, and the Raptors couldn’t make up the difference.
Going into the offseason, it is clear that shooting is a priority for the Raptors. They need reliable shooters coming off the bench, as the playoffs showed that relying on just a small handful of shooters can lead to problems. Here are five potential players the Raptors could acquire in the offseason.
Buddy Hield is known for being one of the best shooters in the league. This season, Hield was top five in 3-pointers made at 3.2 3-pointers per game. Hield’s a willing pull-up 3-point shooter: he’s not elite at it, shooting only 31 percent on such shots, but the Raptors were one of the least accurate teams in the league last year on pull-up 3s. Hield isn’t only limited to being a pull-up 3-point shooter, he’s an elite catch-and-shooter, too. He’s shooting 39.1 percent on catch-and-shoot attempts. Hield would really help space the court with and without the ball for Toronto, which would not only reduce the load on VanVleet but also create more driving lanes for Siakam.
Hield would be a huge addition to the Raptors bench. After getting traded to the Indiana Pacers, Hield averaged 18.2 points on 44.7-percent shooting and a career-low 36.2 percent from three. Not to mention he averaged 5.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and a steal per game. Indiana is going through a rebuild right now and could possibly part ways with Hield for this year or next year’s first-round pick. He didn’t cost a first-round pick to acquire, and the Pacers aren’t ready to win now; flipping him might make sense. He does make over $20 million per year, so Toronto would either need to include a core player or sign a mid-range salary this offseason to package with other amounts such as Khem Birch or Malachi Flynn.
Acquiring Bogdan Bogdanovic could help take the load off of Siakam and VanVleet. Bogdanovic averaged 15.1 points on 43.1-percent shooting. He also made 2.7 three-pointers a game on 36.8-percent shooting from three. Bogdanovic has shown that he is capable of taking over the game when the star players aren’t doing well, which is something the Raptors could’ve used in the playoffs with VanVleet’s injury issues. In the playoffs, Bogdonavic stepped up for the struggling Trae Young in Games 2 and 3 against the Miami Heat. He scored 29 and 18 points while going 5-for-10 and 4-for-9 from three.
Bogdanovic would be an excellent addition to the Raptors’ bench. The Atlanta Hawks were willing to discuss deals involving Bogdanovic at the trade deadline, and failing to repeat their run to the Eastern Conference Finals wouldn’t make them less likely to trade a rotation player. The Raptors could use a secondary ball handler in Bogdanovic to ease the minutes on VanVleet and Siakam, as both of them were top two in the league for minutes played per game this season. Easing the minutes on VanVleet and Siakam would allow them to play more efficiently and reduce the risk of injury.
As with a Hield trade, it would involve either cap juggling or a player like Trent outgoing.
Adding Jordan Clarkson to the Raptors’ rotation would be massive for the team. Clarkson won the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2020-21 and is exactly the player the Raptors need: a shooter who can create his own shots. Clarkson averaged 16 points on 31.8-percent shooting from three, which was quite a downfall compared to his past few seasons. Toronto would hope that was just an aberration while also appreciating that it likely makes him available as a trade target. The odds of Clarkson bouncing back next season are good enough for the Raptors to take a chance on him. If the Raptors acquire Clarkson, he could buoy Toronto when the stars sit, rather than alongside them, because he’s so great at creating his own shot. Toronto was only average last year with just one or two starters in the game, and Clarkson could really help boost those transitional lineups in a way that Svi Mykhailiuk, Malachi Flynn, Dalano Banton, and company just weren’t able to do at the guard spot.
After making the second round once in the past four years, there are rumours that the Utah Jazz may dismantle the star duo of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert and enter a rebuild. The Raptors should jump the gun if Clarkson becomes available. He makes less than Hield or Bogdanovic, just over $13 million, which makes lining up the salaries easier on Toronto’s end.
Jalen Harris is a unique case. Harris was a second-round draft pick by the Raptors in 2020. After playing the Tampa season, he was dismissed from the NBA for violating the terms of the NBA Anti-Drug Program. There is a rule for first-year players that they are allowed to apply for reinstatement after a year has gone by. He would be eligible for the upcoming season if reinstated.
In his last game with the Raptors, Harris scored a career-high 31 points on 57.1 percent shooting and 41.7 percent from three against the Dallas Mavericks. In the 2020-21 season, Harris averaged 7.4 points on 50-percent shooting and an incredible 47.2 percent from three. In the past season, Harris played with the Vanoli Cremona in Italy. He played poorly in Italy, averaging 13.8 points on 38.5-percent shooting and 29.5-percent from three. Harris is set to play with the Scarborough Shooting Stars of the CEBL this summer, and he scored a smooth 21 points in his first outing.
The Raptors could develop Harris as the secondary ball handler coming off the bench who could help run the bench unit instead of Siakam during VanVleet’s rest minutes. This would allow Siakam to get more rest during games as well. With the Cremona, Harris was the primary ball handler who could create his own shot, and he can develop into being an even more effective shooter off the catch. With his height as a guard, not only does he fit the persona of the Raptor’s big lineup but he can also finish at the rim exceptionally well. Bringing Harris back would be a low-risk, high-reward move, as the Raptors wouldn’t have to give up any assets to acquire him, and he has shown flashes of potential during his time with the Raptors and Cremona which makes him the perfect player to take a risk on.
Donte DiVincenzo was traded from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Sacramento Kings during the most recent trade deadline. DiVincenzo not only has a championship ring with the Bucks, but he is also a great shooter at the age of 25, which is something the Raptors could use for the long term.
Last year with the Bucks, DiVincenzo averaged 10.4 points on 37.9 percent shooting from three.
After dealing with injury-related issues and getting traded to the Kings, he averaged near-identical numbers, scoring 10.3 points on 36.8 percent shooting from three. In the playoffs, the Raptors ranked third last out of all 20 teams that made the play-ins/post-season with 18 made threes per game. He would essentially be the replacement of Mykhailiuk, who the Raptors brought over last season for his shooting but never put the pieces together. There have been rumours that DiVincenzo is unhappy with the team and may be looking for a way out of Sacramento. If that’s the case, the Raptors should be one of the first teams to contact him. His salary is small and could be swapped straight up for Birch with some draft-asset sweeteners thrown in.
There is a lot of work to be done in the offseason for Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster to improve the shooting of the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors have exceeded all expectations this season and by fixing their weakness in shooting, the Raptors will look to go above and beyond all expectations for next season.