What the Raptors’ opening night lineup could look like next season

Jun 28 2022, 4:23 pm

What’s better than a good mid- offseason Toronto Raptors lineup projection? With the draft now behind them, and free agency around the corner, there’s no better time to think ahead to how the team will line up this fall.

The Raptors have 15 roster spots to fill, with 11 players currently under contract, three more players with either offers extended or verbal commitments and then a whole host of guys on the edge of sticking around or going.

Toronto doesn’t seem in the market for a big free-agent splash, but it still should be a bit of finagling to see how things line up this October. In six different groups, here’s how those 15 roster spots for October are shaping up.

(Near)-guarantees: (7)

  • Fred VanVleet
  • Scottie Barnes
  • OG Anunoby
  • Gary Trent Jr.
  • Precious Achiuwa
  • Pascal Siakam
  • Khem Birch

There’s a group of seven (no relation to the art collective) Raptors players that seem destined to stick around in Toronto.

There are always trade rumours, of course, but the Raptors seem more of a team that’s being approached rather than doing the shopping itself.

All seven of these players are under contract for next season, with regular rotation spots this past year. Barring any major moves, all of them should be locked in to stay in the Raptors’ lineup this season.

The youngsters (3):

  • Malachi Flynn
  • Dalano Banton
  • Ron Harper Jr.

I’d imagine 2020 and 2021 draftees Malachi Flynn and Dalano Banton start the season with the Raptors after splitting time between the NBA and the G League last year. Ron Harper Jr., an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers who reportedly is signing a two-way deal with the Raptors, also likely gets an early look to see what he’s made of in the opening day lineup.

The “unsigned but will probably make it” group (2): 

  • Christian Koloko
  • Justin Champagnie

Christian Koloko and Justin Champagnie don’t have too many similarities other than that they’re both unsigned but should feature in the lineup on opening night. Koloko was the Raptors’ lone selection in this year’s draft and is expected to sign on July 1, per Raptors GM Bobby Webster, while Champagnie was extended a qualifying offer on Tuesday.

The “signed but could be moved” group(2):

  • Svi Mykhailiuk
  • Armoni Brooks

Svi Mykhailiuk and Armoni Brooks both occupy depths spots on the Raptors’ roster, and each contract runs through this season before expiring. The pair sat ninth and 15th in total minutes on the roster, respectively, with Mykhailiuk almost completely falling out of the rotation during the second half of the season. As of right now, they do technically have roster spots, but it wouldn’t be all that surprising if they didn’t come October.

The “unsigned but will probably not make it” group (2):

  • Isaac Bonga
  • David Johnson

Bonga played 69 minutes in total this past season for Toronto, while Johnson played just two. Johnson, a 2021 second-round pick, might start with the G League after being extended a qualifying offer today, while greener pastures in a new franchise are likely for Bonga.

Unrestricted free agents (3):

  • Yuta Watanabe
  • Chris Boucher
  • Thaddeus Young

If the Raptors want to re-sign Boucher, Watanabe, and/or Young, they’d probably just have the roster space for one or two of them while also having to move out a piece to make room. As it stands right now, all three are free to sign with any of the NBA’s 30 teams.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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