The following is part of Raptors Republic’s series of pieces reviewing the season for the Toronto Raptors. You can find all the pieces in the series here.
A disappointing season, ending in defeat to a child's screams, results in pointed fingers. Nick Nurse seemed halfway out the door before the season even ended. Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster were upset about that -- justifiably -- but they didn't do their part to address the team's issues during the year. The players, of course, were the ones who didn't play defense for the half the season, couldn't shoot, and missed more free throws than prime Shaq in the lone game with significance. So, yeah. Fingers pointing every which way.
The Raptors entered the season with a possession-focused strategy that was more a Band-Aid for weaknesses than a light-years-ahead advantage. And to prove the point, despite the year being a middling one, the strategy worked! I wrote this after the season ended:
Toronto attempted a ridiculous 737 more field-goal attempts than their opponents, the fourth-most in history and most of this millennium. (Their net field-goal margin was even 183 higher than it was the year prior.)
And yet the season on the whole was far from a success. Toronto's front office started its failures early; by running it back with a roster that was fatally flawed in its lack of center, it bet an entire year of core development and team-building on ... Precious Achiuwa's jumper? That's a difficult bet to cash, particularly when the coach was so unwilling to give young players room to grow. It's possible that had Toronto entered the 2022-23 season by addressing its flaws (which were made clear in the season prior), things would be very different as of this writing.
Instead, the team added another wing in Otto Porter jr. last offseason and little else. No center. No backup point guard. No Porter, even. Standing pat was perhaps the riskiest option for Toronto -- particularly with the clock ticking on the team's financial future, with so many crucial players due for raises in the coming two offseasons.
Meanwhile, Nick Nurse started the season without momentum. A clutch win on opening night against the Cleveland Cavaliers was fantastic, but then Toronto lost close and winnable games to the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat. Only two games into the season, the team was already relying on late comebacks and playing its starters huge minutes -- with them logging 21 minutes together and losing their minutes. Ill omens, indeed.