The vibes were not immaculate at all for the Toronto Raptors throughout the 2022-23 season. The players themselves admitted that throughout media day earlier this week. But despite a tumultuous offseason that ensued from a bothersome campaign, Toronto enters the 2023-24 season with a lot more optimism than they did last year. Scottie Barnes, in particular, is expecting a better year, not just for himself but for this entire Raptors team. The 2021-22 NBA Rookie of the Year should be in for a real breakout season in 2023-24.

It's an understatement to say the Raptors went through a lot this offseason — from firing Nick Nurse and introducing a new coach in Darko Rajaković, to Fred VanVleet leaving in free agency, to going through the rollercoaster of the Damian Lillard trade saga. No, the Raptors won't compete for a championship this year. At best, they are just a fringe play-in team like last season. Heck, this team could ultimately usher in a new era and trade away its mainstays like Pascal Siakam and O.G. Anunoby depending on the direction Masai Ujiri ultimately decides for this franchise moving forward.

What's certain is that Scottie Barnes will be here for the long run. The Raptors are committed to making Barnes their guy for the future. I mean, they made him untouchable in any Lillard trade or even any discussions for Kevin Durant for that matter.

The 22-year-old has also shown a commitment to get better. With his mindset entering the new year, big things are in line for Scottie Barnes this upcoming 2023-24 NBA season.

Raptors breakout player for 2023-24 NBA season: Scottie Barnes

Barnes spoke highly about his offseason and is expecting a big year for himself, especially after plateauing in his sophomore season following a stellar debut campaign.

“I feel stronger,” Barnes said during media day. “I feel good on my feet. My handle feels great right now. I feel like I'm more conditioned. I can take on that role. That's what it's about. I feel like it's a mindset thing, what I worked on in the summer — just trying to get my conditioning right.”

Seeing Barnes speak during media day shows he is oozing with confidence heading into his third NBA season.

Many thought the Raptors made the wrong choice of picking Barnes over someone like Jalen Suggs with the 4th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. But Barnes proved naysayers wrong by winning the 2021-22 NBA Rookie of the Year over guys like Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley.

Barnes averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists while shooting 49.2 percent from the field. He was a key part in helping the Raptors make the 2022 NBA Playoffs as the 5th seed with a 48-34 record.

Many expected Barnes to have a bigger year in his second season. But the breakout season did not happen for the 6-foot-9 wing. He averaged the same amount of points (15.3 PPG) with less rebounds (6.6 RPG), but more assists (4.8 APG). His efficiency also dipped to 45.6 percent field goal shooting and his three-point shooting dropped to a paltry 28.1 percent. As a result, Barnes' true shooting percentage dropped from 55.2 percent in Year 1 to 52.4 percent in Year 2.

If anything, Raptors fans expected Barnes' three-point shooting to improve during the summer of 2022 because that was — and still is — the main weakness of his game.

But let's take a look at these numbers for a while:

Rookie season: 13.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 47.5 percent field goal shooting, 58.6 percent true shooting

Sophomore season: 15.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 45.0 percent field goal shooting, 54.7 percent true shooting

Wonder who those numbers belong to? Those numbers belong to none other than Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum.

The drop, especially from an efficiency standpoint, looks awfully similar to Barnes'. Now, we don't want to jump the gun here in claiming Barnes is going to become the superstar Tatum is. But what we just want to point out is that sophomore slumps tend to happen. Or for the case of these two, not everyone makes the jump from Year 1 to Year 2.

The Celtics star made the leap and earned his first All-Star nod in his third season. That could very well happen with Barnes in Year 3, especially if the Raptors shock some teams and actually compete in the Eastern Conference.

As seen from his words during media day, Barnes is aware that he will take on a bigger role this season, especially with the departure of VanVleet. Barnes should get more opportunities to handle the ball and create plays for his teammates. He also admitted to working on several things this past summer.

With that said, expect a more polished and well-rounded Scottie Barnes this 2023-24 NBA season.