The Toronto Raptors are one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference this season. Under the leadership of Nick Nurse, the team has consistently been a a pain to deal with for other teams. The emergence of Scottie Barnes, and the emergence of Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam as the top options, have kept the team competitive even after the departure of their previous veterans.

Despite the many things going for them, though, the Raptors are a long shot to make it to the 2023 NBA Finals, let alone win it all. Let’s talk about the reasons why that’s the case, and how this team could potentially overcome these shortcomings.

3 reasons Raptors won’t win 2023 NBA championship

1. Lackluster bench depth at key Raptors positions

This one is an issue many Raptors fans have been lamenting since last season. On paper, Toronto has a pretty solid group of core players. We’ve already mentioned Barnes, VanVleet, and Siakam: arguably the top three players on the roster. They are joined by the likes of OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr, Chris Boucher, Thaddeus Young, and Precious Achiuwa. A top eight like that will get you places in the NBA.

One look at the depth chart, though, and you’ll notice that the Raptors lack bench depth at the guard positions and the center spot. Toronto is hoping that Dalano Banton develops into a serviceable tall point guard, but he’s still a project at this point. Malachi Flynn could be the answer, but he needs to prove he can defend consistently to earn the trust of Nick Nurse.

The issues at the center position aren’t apparent at first glance. After all, they have plenty of forwards to flex into the 5 spot in a pinch. However, the problem for the Raptors is that they lack the height to match up against the titans of the East. This was apparent in last year’s playoffs, where Joel Embiid had his revenge by feasting on Achiuwa and Khem Birch.

A balanced bench is what helped the Raptors win their first NBA championship in 2019. They had multiple players that could flex to different positions without sacrificing too much in return. This season, they don’t have that luxury.

2. Mediocre offense

The new-look Raptors prides itself as a defensive juggernaut, a team that can make life a living hell for any superstar. Nick Nurse’s creative scheming from their 2019 championship run has carried over to this year. They leverage their length and quickness by using frantic rotations to force turnovers. It’s been largely effective for the most part, as they sported a top-10 defense last season.

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However, the Raptors offense last season was rather hit-and-miss, which doesn’t bode well for their championship aspirations. They ranked in the middle of the pack in Offensive Rating in the 2021-22 season, which is nice. However, against better defensive teams, they have struggled to score consistently. They also were one of the most frequent isolation teams in the league, despite ranking in the 10th percentile last year.

They say that defense wins championships, and that’s true: a great defense will win you a ring. However, a great defense can’t do much if they can’t score on the other end. The Raptors need to shore up their offensive woes if they want to compete for the 2023 title.

3. A glut of talent in the East

Let’s not beat around the bush here: most of the Raptors’ rivals in the East have a lot more talent than them. That’s not a knock on any Toronto player: VanVleet and Siakam are really good players who can contribute to a championship team. They’ve already done exactly that in 2019! Compared to some of the titans in the East, though, the Raps pale in comparison.

The Philadelphia 76ers have Joel Embiid and James Harden, The Milwaukee Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Brooklyn Nets have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The Raptors don’t have any player of the same caliber as any of these guys. In a playoff setting, talent trumps everything.

That’s not even mentioning the next tier of teams that the Raptors also have to fend off in the playoffs. Teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls, and the Miami Heat will be fighting tooth and nail for a chance to make it to the NBA Finals. Simply put: there’s no clear path to the NBA Finals right now.

A glimmer of hope for the Raptors

Despite everything that I’ve said, though, it’s not impossible for the Raptors to win the NBA championship in 2023. If the last few seasons have taught us anything, it’s that anything is possible in this league. Perhaps Toronto gets hot in the playoffs and torches teams to the Finals. Scottie Barnes could break out as the next big star for the team. Hell, we could even get a Pascal Siakam MVP-esque season!

The Raptors have the pieces to make a team worthy of a Finals run. All they need is that catalyst to turn them into bona-fide contenders.