Revisiting 15 predictions for the 2021-22 Raptors: correct, incorrect and waiting to be true

Predictions are like opinions, and opinions are like…well, maybe it’s best not to finish that sentence. The thing is, everyone has them, and most of them make you look stupid if you expose them too often.

And yet. Making predictions is, indeed, a fool’s errand. Before the start of the season, I made 15 of them on the Raptors. Most of them weren’t very specific.

In the spirit of trying to be the change I want to see in the world, I will hold myself accountable and embarrass myself.

more true than false

desire for health, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes will start together at least 20 times.

Health didn’t cooperate, and I was right about that. The Long Three have started together each of the 31 times they have all been available to play in the regular season. the raptors were determined to work out what the fit between the three players looked like, similar traits be damned.

In all, the Raptors played 673 minutes when the three wings shared the field, with a slightly positive net score, more net in defense than in attack. There was nothing conclusive about the sample, but there were certainly enough good signs that the Raptors can feel comfortable moving forward with the three guys on the roster.

To hell with it: Scottie Barnes is a first-team All-Rookie.

All-Rookie teams have yet to be announced, but I’ll give myself this one. Just a hunch.

Dalano Banton will record an unofficial quadruple double with the Raptors 905.

In his G League debut, Banton had 30 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and eight turnovers against the Westchester Knicks. Given how stupid and unlikely that prediction was, I take advantage of the doubt, print it on a flag and wave it until training camp in September.

Seriously, the style in which the Raptors are trying to develop Banton is probably the second most interesting development question on the list, behind Barnes.

Kyle Lowry won’t be crying when he returns to Scotiabank Arena.
In a battle of wills, I’m not betting against Lowry.

50-50

The Raptors will finish in the top three in opposing rotation percentage and their own foul rate.

The Raptors were crystal clear with their defensive intentions heading into the year, and they followed through. They were going to use their length and aggression to create a whole bunch of turnovers, and they ended up forcing turnovers on 16.2% of the opponent’s possessions. Only Minnesota and Miami were within a percentage point of the Raptors’ league lead.

As the year progressed, the Raptors figured out how to be aggressive without attacking their opponents. After being in the top 10 for the first month of the season, the Raptors have refined their process for the rest. Overall, their opponents shot only the 14th most free throws per field goal attempt. It’s a good compromise for the Raptors.

The Raptors will have one last-seven half-court offense and one last-10 clean rating.

According to Synergy Sports, the Raptors have scored 0.943 points per possession in the half court this year, 25th in the league. It was the team’s obvious flaw heading into the season, and even if it was the defense that faltered in the playoffs, figuring it out should remain one of the top priorities for the staff. coaches during the offseason. (That number went up, to 0.969 points per possession, against Philadelphia in the regular season. Siakam is good.)

It’s believed that having a good offense in the half-court is strongly correlated with performance in close games, but that wasn’t the case for the Raptors. The Raptors had the seventh-best net rating in clutch situations — when a team leads by five points or less in the final five minutes of a game. They were equally strong on both sides of the clutch, their offense holding up surprisingly well in times when the game is supposed to slow down. (The Raptors’ pace of play in and out of clutch situations was identical.)

Gary Trent Jr. will finish second on the team in usage percentage.

I predicted that Trent would finish second in usage percentage behind Siakam. Instead, he was third, behind Siakam and Fred Van Vleetcloser to Anunoby in fourth than to VanVleet in second.

I was still relatively close, but I think the mistake came in thinking Trent would be used to support second units more than he was. Siakam and VanVleet were so heavily offset that Trent was rarely the go-to guy in any lineup. Plus, Siakam and VanVleet played *crispy numbers* every minute.

The Raptors will trade Goran Dragic and chris butcher before the deadline.

Back in December, that prediction looked pretty good — assuming, of course, the Raptors would be able to move Boucher for anything of value. Boucher had fallen to the very bottom of the rotation, receiving a DNP-CD on Nov. 28 against Boston. After that, and especially after the schedule shifted to 2022, Boucher became perhaps the Raptors’ most important bench player, the personification of the Raptors’ defensive style. Over the last three quarters of the year, the Raptors outscored opponents by 6.6 points per 100 possessions when Boucher was on the floor, the highest mark of any Raptors in the regular rotation. At this point, it’s more likely than not to return to the Raptors in free agency.

Thank goodness I didn’t make any other Dragic predictions, as I thought he would have a pretty big role on this team. It was exchanged for Young Thaddeus at the deadline, and the less said about the sequel to the Dragic saga, the better.

More harm than good

The Raptors will lose in the Play-In Tournament game 9-10.

I blame him *checks notes* the falcons, NetsKnicks, Hornets and Pacers. A bunch of underperforming teams, those teams.

The Raptors will play at a top-eight pace.

I was wrong on a lot of fronts, but the most I was wrong was with this prediction. Averaging 96.63 possessions per game, the Raptors played at the fourth-slowest pace in the league. NBA. Wow, myself.

In my defense, the Raptors ran a lot, recording one of the highest transition play rates in the league. However, when the Raptors were playing half court, they really were playing half court. Their scrambling defense focused on getting their opponents to make extra passes, while the Raptors isolated and posted enough to move languidly with the ball as well.

OG Anunoby will finish in the top five in the Most Improved Player vote, but will not be part of an All-Defense team.

Anunoby missed 34 games which obviously took him out of consideration for the award. Anunoby really needs a healthy season, and the Raptors would love to see her next year.

There was a noticeable improvement as a playmaker as Anunoby increased his assist percentage and lowered his turnover percentage with a career high use percentage. This is a good thing and a reason to be optimistic for the future. His scoring efficiency took a hit, with his 3-point percentage and free throw rate dropping dramatically, dropping his true shooting percentage by more than five percentage points from the past two years. It’s something to watch out for.

No Raptor will make the All-Star Game for the second straight season.

Bet on VanVleet, not me.

Many a veteran will object to Scottie Barnes’ enthusiasm.

Barnes only had four technical fouls? It can’t be true. Maybe the ones he picked up were just so memorable that seemed more.

Referees aside, Barnes has received near-universal praise from across the league, from coaches to teammates to opponents. VanVleet admitted he got a little irritated on one occasion with Barnes’ hyper-positivity, but he quickly let it overwhelm him. Everyone loves Scottie, it seems. Congratulation to james lebron for finding rookie of the year. Great tracking.

The Raptors will be victims of a bad out-of-bounds (or no-call) call that they won’t be able to contest early in the season.

I can admit when I’m wrong. There was no such call, and the Raptors and their fans thought the referees had done a great job all year long, bar none.

Not bad, just early

Drake will be ejected from his pitchside seats for touching an opposing player.

It will happen. It will happen. If I keep trying to make it exist, it will happen.

(Drake and Scottie Barnes top photo: Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images)

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