The Raptors went from a team in the lottery to the playoffs within a year. It was sad to see Raptor favourites Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell leave, but a year later the benefits of such heartrending moves are clear. The Raptors drafted the Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes with the lottery pick from Tampa Fred VanVleet took over the team and became an All Star for the first time in his career, and Pascal Siakam came back from surgery and made the All-NBA team. The success at the team-wide level was clear. But individual performances were no less impressive.
With training camp less than a month away, it is only right we take a look at the top performances of the Raptors from last season. Before getting into the top five performances, here are some of the honourable mentions.
1. Pascal Siakam scores a season high in points against the Celtics
Pascal Siakam scored a season-high 40 points in an OT thriller against the Celtics without making a single three. Siakam was unreal in this game. He constantly attacked Grant Williams and Daniel Theis in the paint and hit contested mid-range jumpers. There’s no other way to put it aside from that he was unstoppable. He also scored the game-winning shot in this game before fouling out. This performance would be higher on my list if it wasn’t for the fact that Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Robert Williams III weren’t playing.
2. Gary Trent Jr drops 42 points on 1st seed Phoenix Suns
Before this game against Phoenix, Gary Trent jr. was in a terrible shooting slump. He found his rhythm in a hurry, scoring 17 points in just the first quarter. He went on to score 42. Trent hit eight threes, which were a mix of open catch-and-shoot threes and contested threes against Deandre Ayton where he made the shot with his quick release. He hit a couple of deep midrange fadeaways too as he led the Raptors to a win against the one-seed Suns.
3. Scottie Barnes’ 25-point double-double in his second game
This game was the start of an amazing season for the reigning Rookie of the Year. After a mediocre performance in a home opener against Washington, this is when Scottie Barnes made his mark on the NBA.
Barnes led the Raptors with 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the first win of the season against the Celtics. Barnes cleaned the offensive glass, and he surprised the world with his mid-range shot. This was when Barnes got a taste of the NBA, as he was guarding Tatum in his second career NBA game.
Now without further ado, here are the top five performances from the 2021-22 Toronto Raptors.
#5. Gary Trent jr. scores 42 points and gets 4 steals against the Rockets
Trent was incredible, as he stepped up in the absence of VanVleet and led the Raptors from behind to a win. Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, and Christian Wood all did their best to guard Trent but had no luck. Trent hit all sorts of triples, both created by his teammates and pulling up off the dribble. He attacked the paint and made tough, contested shots against Green, while against Sengun and Wood he created even easier looks. He grabbed four steals as well. It was a great performance by Trent Jr on both sides of the court.
#4. OG Anunoby drops career-high 36 points in Madison Square Garden
The Raptors walked into MSG with Siakam on the sidelines, and it was Anunoby’s turn to be the hero as he led the team to a win while dropping a career-high in points. Anunoby scorched Randle this game by driving past him using his speed, and he made tough contested shots in the paint and from midrange. Anunoby made multiple catch-and-shoot threes and even showed flashes of self-creation, which is a skill in development for him.
#3. Pascal Siakam leads the way with 34 points to secure Raptors first playoff win
The Raptors were down 3-0 in the series against the Philadelphia 76ers, and all hope seemed lost. With VanVleet playing injured, Siakam went off to keep the Raptors in the series. Siakam was hot as he continuously made deep mid-range jumpers and attacked the paint whenever he got a mismatch on Danny Green or Paul Reed. His persistence and incredible shotmaking led the Raptors to their first playoff win.
#2. Scottie Barnes drops career-high 31 points, 17 rebounds in OT thriller vs the Lakers
Scottie was magnificent this game, as he started it off by scoring the Raptors’ first nine points. With Anthony Davis not playing, the Lakers had a weak frontcourt. Scottie took advantage of that and ferociously attacked the rim, scoring most of his points there and grabbing 17 rebounds in the process. He also dished out six assists, but unfortunately the Raptors were not able to win this game despite Scottie’s efforts. Regardless, watching Scottie put on a show by going head-to-head with LeBron James was incredible. He really has the potential to take over the league one day, and it was never more clear than watching him take on the King.
#1. Fred VanVleet’s first career triple-double against the Jazz
This is a game that I will always remember from VanVleet. The Raptors were down by 14, and VanVleet exploded to go on a personal 17-0 run. He scored 24 in the third quarter, the fourth-most of anyone all year. He made a couple of threes, but most of his points came from the midrange, where he was simply unstoppable. On top of that he had 10 assists and 10 rebounds to get his first career triple-double as he led the Raptors to a win. There’s no better example of willing a team to a victory.