Team #3: Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors’ offense is an unmitigated mess right now. They’re averaging 102.4 points per game which is the second-worst mark in the league, but James Harden would provide an instant jolt of offense.
The Raptors have a roster full of productive young players that are good secondary players but aren’t quite good enough to be a franchise player right now. Kyle Lowry remains an excellent player but expecting him at 34-years-old to single-handedly drag this team to the postseason seems to be too much to ask.
Harden’s offensive profile would instantly help the Raptors in their most needed area of improvement. The team is in the bottom ten of free-throw attempts per 100 possessions, but James Harden has been the gold standard at getting to the line throughout his career.
Over the past four seasons, Harden has averaged 11 free throw attempts a game, while the Raptors are only averaging 21.2 attempts a game. Flipping Harden for Pascal Siakam, picks, and a group of young players could see the Raptors add close to ten additional free throw attempts a game and go from the bottom third of the league into the top third.
The Raptors are 1-5 and without a complete offensive turnaround, they’ll be in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since the 2012-13 season. Losing Pascal Siakam and their future flexibility might be a tough pill to swallow but Kyle Lowrie remains an excellent player and Nick Nurse can build an elite NBA defense with a G-League roster.
This franchise is an offensive superstar away from becoming a contender once again. James Harden is the best in the business and under contract for two more seasons.
If the Raptors want to make one or two more runs for a championship they’ll need to think boldly. Harden is the bold move the franchise needs to make and because of their impressive organizational development and philosophy, they have the assets available to make the move.
Next: Team No. 2