Toronto Raptors starting small forward: Scottie Barnes
Scottie Barnes actually regressed in a few key areas after his Rookie of the Year campaign, but the former No. 4 pick's sophomore season was an overall success. No, the Raptors couldn't win games, but Barnes' playmaking took a step forward and he established his presence as a lineup pillar, both offensively and defensively.
New head coach Rajakovic is known for his offensive creativity and schematic mind. There aren't many more unique offensive engines than Scottie Barnes. He will regularly bring the ball up and initiate the offense at 6-foot-8. He's mostly a non-entity behind the 3-point line (28.1 percent on 2.9 attempts), but Barnes is a strong-bodied slasher with a knack for making the extra pass.
Barnes loves to face up from the elbow, where he can survey the defense for cutters and shooters or attack straight down the middle. Barnes' efficiency dipped slightly last season, but some of that was experimental — more mid-range jumpers, higher-difficulty attempts — and some of it was the Raptors' overall offensive regression, which went far beyond Barnes' individual woes.
On the defensive end, Barnes is a central figure in what the Raptors are building. Toronto has one of the best defensive rosters in the NBA on paper. Barnes can struggle a bit with quicker guards in space, but he's a genuine four or five-position defender with sticky hands (1.1 steals) and a presence on the glass.
Primary backup small forward: Gradey Dick
The Raptors selected Gradey Dick with the No. 13 pick in June's NBA Draft. It was the perfect marriage of prospect and team. Dick adheres to a lot of Toronto's roster-building hallmarks (tall, skilled, quality defender) but above all else, he's an elite 3-point shooter. His volume and shot versatility is going to be a significant boon for the Raptors' offense.
Dick will thrive running of screens and working DHOs with Barnes, Siakam, and the like. He's not a point guard, but Dick does possess advanced passing instincts and the ability to sling some beautiful skip passes on the move. He's slender and he's not the most dynamic athlete, but Dick's size and hustle generally makes up that ground on defense. He's always in the right spot with active hands and a competitive spirit.
He's only 19 years old, but Dick has the feel of a four-year college vet who understands the ins and outs of basketball on a deep level. He's not the highest-upside prospect, but his floor is higher than most and he's going to be an immediate contributor for the Raptors — whether the goal is to win or to rebuild.
Other players who could receive minutes at small forward: Jalen McDaniels, O.G. Anunoby, Chris Boucher, Otto Porter Jr., Garrett Temple
The Raptors stole Jalen McDaniels from the Sixers in free agency. As far as two-year, $9.3 million contracts go, there's a fair amount of upside here. He's 6-foot-9 with the ability to guard all over the floor and hit the occasional 3. He's also young — 25 years old — will untapped upside as a slasher.
There's little downside risk relative to the contract, and there's natural talent and athleticism that the right team and development staff could tap into. Expect him to play.