Raptors projected lineup and rotations heading into 2023-24 season

Fred VanVleet is gone and Pascal Siakam's free agency looms, but here's how the Toronto Raptors' lineup and rotations will look under new head coach Darko Rajaković.

Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors
Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors / John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
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The Toronto Raptors' dreadful season ended with a play-in loss to the Chicago Bulls. Masai Ujiri rightly garnered a lot of praise for his construction of the Raptors' championship roster in 2019, but the years since have been largely defined by early postseason exits and bitter disappointment.

Toronto is fast approaching an organizational crossroads. Fred VanVleet walked in free agency, which comes on the heels of Kyle Lowry also walking in free agency. Both could have been traded for real assets, but the Raptors gambled and lost.

Pascal Siakam is next in line. He has been the franchise's best player since Kawhi Leonard's departure. Lowry and VanVleet were both past their primes to a certain degree. Siakam is coming off his most productive individual season to date. At 29 years old, he should have more star-level basketball left in the tank.

How the Raptors handle Siakam's future will determine the direction of the franchise. If he's traded for draft picks and young talent, then it signals at long-overdue admission of defeat. The Raptors need to reset and retool. The current group simply isn't good enough. If Siakam is re-signed, however, the Raptors will attempt (probably in vain) to compete for another half-decade.

Ujiri is a shrewd negotiator. He challenges even Daryl Morey for the title of 'guy nobody likes to trade with' because it's always a painstaking process. Ujiri has turned down juicy offers in the past and the Raptors continue to drive a hard bargain for Siakam, from the looks of it. There's a difference between wanting to trade Siakam and actually mustering up the courage to pull the trigger.

For now, the Raptors' roster looks very similar to last season with a few key differences. VanVleet is gone, Gradey Dick joined the team via lottery pick, and Nick Nurse is no longer in the driver's seat. Instead, former Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic will attempt to lead Toronto into a new age.

Here's what he has to work with.

Toronto Raptors starting point guard: Dennis Schroder

The Raptors quickly pivoted to Dennis Schroder once Fred VanVleet signed his mega-deal with Houston. The former Lakers guard signed a two-year, $25.4 million contract to ostensibly take over the starting point guard gig. Nurse and the Raptors have tossed out some atypical lineups in the past, but the dollar amount suggests extreme confidence in Schroder. Rajakovic may not share Nurse's passion for tall-ball either.

Schroder was the Lakers' opening night starter last season but he transitioned to a sixth man role following D'Angelo Russell's trade deadline arrival. He averaged 12.6 points and 4.5 assists with .415/.329/.857 splits in 30.1 minutes. Schroder bumped Russell out of the starting five late in the Denver series.

The simple read on last season is this: Schroder was better than Russell, but age, name, and fluffier counting stats landed Russell a big contract from the Lakers while Schroder was shunted to Toronto. The Raptors probably shouldn't be thrilled with Schroder as the VanVleet replacement, but he's a suitable stopgap who can put points on the board and play both sides of the ball.

Schroder's foremost attribute is his speed. He's a slippery slasher who puts constant pressure on the rim. Even if he's not a great finisher inside, he will collapse the defense and open up opportunities for teammates. His 3-point shot has progressed to the point of respectability and he will defend his position at the point of attack. He's limited by size (6-foot-3, 172 pounds) but the effort is reliable.

Primary backup point guard: Scottie Barnes

Let's get funky! Scottie Barnes spent plenty of time as the nominal point guard last season. The Raptors have a couple other options here, but Barnes is comfortable handling the rock, pushing the tempo, and making an effort to locate teammates. He has a point guard's intuition and he can defend all across the perimeter, unlocking some intriguing defensive possibilities for Rajakovic's squad.

Other players who could receive minutes at point guard: Malachi Flynn, Markquis Nowell