Lowry only played in 46 games this season between back issues and head coach Nick Nurse resting him at the end of the season. The Raptors ranked 19th in points per game and finished with a 27-45 record. According to Basketball-Reference, that is seven fewer wins than they were expected to have at the beginning of the season.
During the season with the Raptors, one of the big storylines was the fact that Masai Ujiri didn’t trade Lowry to a contender at the trade deadline. The Raptors were out of it pretty early in the season and Nurse was already giving their 2020 first-round draft pick, Malachi Flynn, more minutes, so he could get more experience during his rookie season. Toronto seems like they will head in another direction at the point guard position so it was confusing why they didn’t get together with Lowry and get him to a contender so he could have a chance to win another championship.
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The Raptors weren’t envisioning that they were going to finish 18 games under .500 so their season was certainly a disappointment. With that said, Toronto was enduring some unique circumstances that no other team had to deal with this season. The Raptors couldn’t play at their home arena in Toronto because Canada didn’t want teams going in and out of their country with the Covid-19 still a concern.
It was already bad enough that they lost the first seven games of the season, but they also lost their first five “home games” of the year. Their start of the season was so wacky that they were losing to mediocre teams like the Chicago Bulls but beating heavyweights like the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets. The Raptors will have to work on is their rebounding, as they finished 28th in the NBA in that category. More specifically, their defense needs more length because being 29th in defensive rebounds isn’t going to cut it if Toronto wants to win more games next season.
Team Award Winners
MVP – Pascal Siakam
When we think of who the most valuable player is on a team, it should be the player that didn’t just have the best offensive statistics, but the one that was great on both sides of the court. Siakam was one of the few Raptors players that were consistently available, as he was third in games played (56), and first in defensive rebounds per game (5.5), total rebounds per game (7.2), and points per game (21.4). With Lowry likely moving on from Toronto, Siakam looks like he’ll be the next face of the franchise along with Fred VanVleet if they don’t go out and sign a big-time free agent.
Defensive Player of the Year – Pascal Siakam
As mentioned above, Siakam led the Raptors in rebounds but he also averaged 1.1 steals and 0.7 blocks per game, which is respectable for a big man. While his numbers were slightly down from his All-Star season last year, the Raptors didn’t play in as many games as they did in 2019-2020 so Siakam didn’t have as many opportunities to get his numbers up.
Sixth Man of the Year – Chris Boucher
Boucher only started 14 out of the 60 games he played in but made an impact nonetheless. At 28 years old, Boucher averaged about 24 minutes per game and knocked down 51.4 percent of his shot attempts from the field. The power forward is a free agent after next season, so if Boucher continues to play well, he could be a valuable trade piece to have at the deadline next season. Expect the Raptors to trade him if they don’t have a great chance of going deep into the playoffs.
Biggest Surprise – Malachi Flynn
If you watched Flynn play in his senior year at San Diego State University, you might not have been surprised at how well he transitioned from the Mountain West to the NBA. However, Raptors fans who didn’t pay much attention to him before he was selected in the first round had to be impressed at what they saw.
Flynn didn’t get much playing time at the beginning of the season but took advantage of the extra minutes near the end of the season when Lowry wasn’t playing as frequently. While Flynn needs to be more consistent from the field (37.4 percent), he shot about 32 percent from three and over 80 percent from the free-throw line this season, which were strengths of his at SDSU.
Flynn earned Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors in April when he averaged 12.7 points, 4.8 assists, and 4.1 rebounds in 15 games and eight starts.
Flynn’s instincts are being compared to an All-Star guard he played with this season, and Nurse believes Flynn showed “tremendous growth as a point guard” this season.
Biggest Disappointment – Aron Baynes
Baynes came over from the Suns where he just put up a career-high in points per game (11.5). However, the 34-year-old center didn’t duplicate that with Toronto this season, averaging just 6.1 points per game. His whole year wasn’t as successful as 2019-2020, as his minutes played and shooting percents across the board were down. He signed a two-year, $14 million contract before the season, and it’s safe to say both the Raptors and Baynes are hoping he has a more productive 2021-2022 season.
The big decision surrounding the Raptors this offseason will be if they bring back Lowry next season. There isn’t a great chance he returns at 35-years-old because the Raptors aren’t going to want to pay him $30 million a year when they aren’t one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, during the draft, the Raptors are scheduled to pick 17th according to Tankathon. However, with the draft lottery that could change. Toronto could target a point guard like Davion Mitchell to replace Lowry. Mitchell would be a good fit because of his above-average defense and championship experience. Regardless of who the Raptors pick in the first round and beyond, they need to improve their defense and add more firepower on the offensive end.
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