It is safe to say that the season has not gone as planned for the Toronto Raptors. They are five games under .500, they are currently the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference, and now they are at the center of trade rumors. The Raptors may be active when the trade deadline approaches, as many players are becoming popular names in the trade rumors.
Just when you think Pascal Siakam is done growing as a player, he reaches a new level. This year, he has made the move from power forward to center, where he is spending 71% of his minutes. He has also continued his growth as a passer. Siakam is now averaging a career-high 6.4 assists along with 25.1 points per game, also a career-high. The most encouraging sign of Siakam’s progress is that he is averaging under three turnovers a game despite a 28% usage rate.
Of the Raptors’ core, Siakam is one of the less likely players to be moved compared to his teammates. However, that has not stopped the trade rumors surrounding him. According to Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus, one NBA executive suggested a Siakam trade to Golden State. While Draymond Green is in this hypothetical deal, the sweetener for the Raptors is the Warriors’ young players in James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody.
O.G. Anunoby has become one of the most popular names in the trade market, and for good reason. His archetype is coveted in the modern NBA- an athletic 6’7 wing that can defend multiple positions while being an efficient three-point shooter. This year, Anunoby is shooting 36% on five attempts a game while leading the team in steals and defensive win shares.
There have been rumors surrounding Anunoby since the summer. Reportedly, the Portland Trail Blazers offered their seventh overall pick in last summer’s draft for him, before using it to pick Shaedon Sharpe. Then there have been rumblings about Anunoby wanting out of Toronto, which he has since denied. As of now, both Phoenix and New York were recently reported to be interested in him. Then there was a report of an unnamed team previously offering three first-round picks for him.
Statistically, VanVleet is having a bit of a down year. Normally a good shooter on high volume, VanVleet is only shooting 34% on about nine attempts a game. In contrast, he shot 37.7% on almost 10 attempts in the 2021-22 season. Despite this, he has still been an efficient passer (6.5 assists to 1.8 turnovers) and has long been known as a reliable player overall. He has even been a plus defender at times, finishing with a defensive rating under 110 two separate times in his career.
The Los Angeles Clippers have been the team most connected to VanVleet so far. The Clippers are a team that has struggled with both playmaking and offense, ranking 24th in the league in offensive rating and 25th in assists. The Los Angeles Lakers have also been linked to VanVleet, who signed with Klutch Sports earlier this month.
What Makes the Toronto Raptors Interesting?
Simply put, the Raptors are stuck in the middle at the moment. They still have many players from their 2019 championship run and they had won 28 games the year before. The team’s core is either at its peak or just hitting it (in the case of O.G. Anunoby). But the season has not gone their way regardless.
Much of the Raptors’ core may be gone by the end of the 2023-24 season. Siakam hits free agency outright after the season, while VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. have player options. Anunoby has a player option for the 2024-25 season. Assuming they extend Scottie Barnes, it may be next to impossible for general manager Masai Ujiri to keep the group together. While the Toronto Raptors have not bottomed out, it may be best to be sellers this year.