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 reason for the drop was a lack of shooting, especially after All-Star Fred VanVleet was injured for the first time. In the 2021-22 regular season, VanVleet was second in the league in 3-pointers made. He made 3.7 three-pointers per game in a efficient 37.7 percent. As far as the playoffs go, VanVleet played through a knee injury and his 3-point shot fell to 33.3 percent. Before the All-Star break, he was shooting threes before he suffered the injury. After the break, there was a dip in his efficiency that carried over into the postseason. VanVleet wasn’t the only one who ran into trouble. Gary Trent Jr. played through an illness in the first two games and shot 2 of 13 combined in Games 1 and 2.
The 76ers had a huge shooting advantage over the Raptors. As a team, the Raptors did 59 triples in 197 attempts while the 76ers did 82 triples in 201 attempts. In the playoffs, shooting 29.9 percent from 3 when the other team is shooting 40.8 percent means you face an uphill climb every game, and the Raptors couldn’t make up the difference.
Going into the off-season, it’s clear that shooting is a priority for the Raptors. They need reliable shooters who come off the bench, as the playoffs showed that relying on 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 in the top five in 3-pointers made in 3.2 triples per game. Hield is a willing top 3-point shooter – he’s not elite at that, shooting just 31 percent on those shots, but the Raptors were one of the less accurate equipment in the league last year in pull-up 3s. Hield isn’t just a top 3-point shooter, he’s also an elite shooter. he is shooting 39.1 percent in catch-and-shoot attempts. Hield would really help space out the floor on and off the ball for Toronto, which would not only reduce VanVleet’s load but also create more driving lanes for Siakam.
Hield would be a great addition to the Raptors’ bench. After being traded to the Indiana Pacers, Hield averaged 18.2 points on 44.7 percent shooting and a career-low 36.2 percent of three. Not to mention that he averaged 5.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists and one 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. It didn’t cost him to acquire a first-round pick, and the Pacers aren’t ready to win right now; flipping it might make sense. He makes more than $20 million a year, so Toronto would need to add a center player or sign a mid-range salary this offseason to match other numbers like Khem Birch or Malachi Flynn.
The acquisition of Bogdan Bogdanovic could help ease the burden on Siakam and VanVleet. Bogdanovic averaged 15.1 points on 43.1 percent shooting. He also made 2.7 3-pointers per game while shooting 36.8 percent from 3. Bogdanovic has shown that he is capable of taking charge of the game when star players aren’t doing well, something the Raptors could have used in the playoffs with VanVleet’s injury problems. In the playoffs, Bogdonavic replaced a struggling Trae Young in Games 2 and 3 against the Miami Heat. The scored 29 and 18 points while going 5 of 10 and 4 of 9 of 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 not repeating his run to the Eastern Conference Finals wouldn’t make them any less likely to trade a rotation player. The Raptors could use a secondary ball handler in Bogdanovic to relieve minutes for VanVleet and Siakam, since both were top two in the league for minutes played per game this season. Making it easier for VanVleet and Siakam to play minutes would allow them to play more efficiently and reduce the risk of injury.
As with a Hield trade, it would involve juggling the cap or a player like Trent outgoing.
Adding Jordan Clarkson to the Raptors’ rotation would be huge for the team. Clarkson won Sixth Man of the Year 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 of three, which was a big drop compared to his last few seasons. Toronto would hope that was just an aberration, while appreciating that it would likely make him available as a business target. The odds that Clarkson will bounce back next season are good enough for the Raptors to take a chance on him. If the Raptors acquire Clarkson, he could cheer for Toronto when the stars sit down, instead of standing next to them, because he’s so good at creating his own shots. Toronto was just average last year with only one or two starters in the game, and Clarkson could really help fuel those transition lineups in a way that Svi Mykhailiuk, Malachi Flynn, Dalano Banton and company simply couldn’t at guard.
After making the second round once in the last four years, there is rumors that the Utah Jazz can dismantle the star duo of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert and go into a rebuild. The Raptors should get ahead if Clarkson is available. He makes less than either Hield or Bogdanovic, a little over $13 million, which makes it easier for Toronto to line up salaries.
Jalen Harris is a unique case. Harris was selected in the second round of the draft by the Raptors in 2020. After playing the season in Tampa, he was released from the NBA for violating the terms of the NBA Anti-Drug Program. There is a rule for first-year players that allows them to apply for reinstatement after a year has passed. He would be eligible for next season if he is 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. Last season, Harris played for 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 for 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 off the bench who could help run the bench drive in place of Siakam during VanVleet’s bye minutes. This would also allow Siakam to rest more during games. With Cremona, Harris was the primary ball handler who could create his own shot, and he can become an even more effective shooter from the catch. With his height at shooting guard, he not only fits the personality of the great Raptor 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, making him the Perfect player to take risks.
Donte Di Vincenzo
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’s also a crack shot at the age of 25, something the Raptors could use long term.
Last year with the Bucks, DiVincenzo averaged 10.4 points on 37.9 percent shooting of three.
After dealing with injury-related issues and being traded to the Kings, he averaged nearly identical numbers, scoring 10.3 points on 36.8 percent shooting of three. In the playoffs, the Raptors ranked second to last of the 20 teams that reached the play-ins/post-season with 18 3-pointers per game. He would basically be the replacement for Mykhailiuk, who the Raptors brought in last season because of his shot, but never put the pieces together. Has been rumors that DiVincenzo isn’t happy 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 he could trade outright for Birch with some draft asset sweeteners.
There is a lot of work to be done in the offseason for Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster to improve the Toronto Raptors’ shooting. The Raptors have exceeded all expectations this season and by correcting their shooting weakness, the Raptors will look to exceed all expectations for the upcoming season.