The Raptors get lost in the maze

Toronto misses the forecasts. The Raptors fall in Canada against the bulls in it play-in and they say goodbye to the season. The puzzle you created Maasai Ujiri, general manager of the franchise, seemed almost complete, but the pieces do not fit. The bright future in the country of the maple leaf has become Utopia in a matter of months. Rumors of leaving vanvleet and Anunoby they were not completed, and the puzzle seems even more complicated.

the return home of poeltlby Khem Birch, a first round of 2024 and two second it was not the solution. In a team where tall players with little shooting ability abound, the arrival of the Austrian has hardly changed the scenario. As a bench bottom and destined for his role near the hoop It is good, but it is not the wick that has to ignite the change of mentality and game in the Scotiabank Arena.

The Eastern conference presents the highest level of recent seasons, and any slight error can leave you out of the postseason. So it has been. The irregularity has sent them to the party of life or death, and they did not know how to emerge victorious from it. teams like Boston, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and cleveland They lead the oligopoly that has been created in recent campaigns. Hopes were placed on Toronto following in his wake, increasing its importance over the years and establishing itself as one of the most interesting projects of the competition, have not been met.

The sensations invited it. With a All-NBA as siakama player close to the barrier of the all star like VanVleet, one of the best defenders (if not the best) in the NBA like Anunoby and scottie barnesbrand new rookies of the year, the nucleus was formed. four players of present and future commanded an offensive and defensive framework organized by one of the best coaches in the league, Nick Nurse.

This summer is not just for looking at the market. It is time to know if the project walks in the indicated address Or is it time to change some things.

Fred VanVleet (Toronto Raports) celebrates a basket against the Chicago Bulls at Scotiabank Arena in the 'play-in' game.
Fred VanVleet (Toronto Raports) celebrates a basket against the Chicago Bulls at Scotiabank Arena in the ‘play-in’ game.ANDREW LAHODYNSKYJAFP

The problems seem to be many, which complicates the search for solutions before it is too late to keep up with those ahead. First of all, the multitude of players who share similarities and cover similar areas. Barnes, Siakam, and to a lesser extent Anunoby all do damage on the inside but have little outside presence. Its wingspan does not cover the skills they have with the ball and the ease of producing close to the hoop, but they are similar prototypes.

To these are added Chris Boucher, Precious Achiuwa, Christian Koloko and newcomer Poeltl, who also have an internal presence and lack external potential. Similar pieces for a limited number of positions and minutes. Before talking about the headlines, it is worth taking a look at the bench. Malachi Flynn, Thaddeus Young, Dalano Banton either Jeff dowtin they have barely produced.

The expectations have also played a trick on the secondaries. The development of Flynn, Banton and Precious Achiuwa has not been as expected. They have not finished making the system their own, feel comfortable on the court and get their full potential, especially the first two. Achiuwa has had flashes, but more of the same with Barnes, Siakam and Poeltl. With little contribution from the bench and similar offensive threats from the starters, attacking power is reduced.

Going back to the main ones, Siakam has had matches where she has shown why she is one of the stars of the league (52 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists against NY last December; 38 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists against Philadelphia two days earlier) and why Canadians have done well to trust him as cornerstone of the project. From the raptors ring (2019), the Cameroonian has established himself as one of the stars of the competition.

Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors) against Mike Muscala (Boston Celtics).
Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors) against Mike Muscala (Boston Celtics).david butler iiUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Featuring

Of the second, the brand new rookie of the Yearthere are several things to comment. In charge of raising the ball and organize the offense, Barnes has shown that versatility makes him different, but that maybe you can’t exploit some areas of the game because you are limited by being the only one doing others. Their assists have gone up (from 3.5 to 4.8), not like their percentages (49 to 46% TC, 28% from 3-pointer).

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vanvleet and Gary Trent Jr. complete a backcourt interesting. While the first, who came to be all staris performing below expectations, the second, on paper, the best shooter the team has (and he is in a 37% from triple), can be used as a bargaining chip. Actually, both. They have both been in the exit ramp while the market was active. It is not unreasonable to think that they will change their shirt in a few months.

Anunoby’s case is special. If he’s in the market, the Raptors they would not accept any offer. The transfer between Minnesota and Utah by Gobert He raised the bar for every great piece in the league, and we don’t know what teams would be willing to give up. His contribution in defense is essential. Nothing is understood without him, but he still hasn’t exploded on the offensive end, although the improvement is evident.

The numbers speak for themselves. The figures show a team irregular, without great virtues and that somehow covers its defects. The problem is that, in a team where the effort has been the first commandment, the sacrifice seems to have evaporated. The attitude It is not the sameand was the hallmark of the team in recent seasons.

Scottie Barnes (Toronto Raptors) with Patrick Beverley (Chicago Bulls) during the 'play-in' game.
Scottie Barnes (Toronto Raptors) with Patrick Beverley (Chicago Bulls) during the ‘play-in’ game.ANDREW LAHODYNSKYJAFP

Despite the fact that its three main players (Leaving VanVleet aside) and several aforementioned secondary players are above the 2′01m highthe Raptors have been the worst team in the league in defensive rebounding (30.3).

suspense in the season

The Canadians have concluded the regular season at the position 29th in scoring off the bench: 28 secondary points per night. The evident lack of depth in the second unit is added to the fact that the bank has not produced in its entirety due to the fact that some of its members has been forced into a greater role than expected. The arrival of Poeltl forces change schemes but it has not reversed course.

Poeltl has helped and will help in this facet to increase the impact on his own basket. The Canadians pressed in the last weeks and finished with the 11th defensive rating of the competition (113.1 pts/100 possessions). The absence of Otto Porter Jr. throughout the campaign prevented Toronto from strengthening the defensive facet.

In attack things could be better. Despite finishing in the middle of the table in efficiency: 11th in offensive rating (114.6)are the 8th worst attack in the competition with 112.9 points per match. At the management level, the Raptors occupy the 23rd position in distributed basket passes by encounter (23.9).

The baskets come from isolated plays, from individualities. Toronto is ethe second team who has captured the most offensive rebounds per night (12.7)a step above the Knicks (12.6), in the second place. The arrival of the Austrian interior (3.2 second chances), has given a breath of fresh air to the work on the boards.

In the external success plane comes the main problem. The Raptors have been the third worst triple percentage in the NBA (33.5%). The solutions must come here. The arrival of Will Bartonafter being cut by the Washington Wizards, materialized in intermittent aid, less important than expected.

Looking on the bright side, they are the team that fewer turnovers in the NBA (11.7 per night) and the one more balls has gotten (9.3). The passing lane activity is unbeatable, and having Anunoby, VanVleet and Barnes helps with that. The problems center on the attack, on the impossibility of generating a Plan B if the A does not work and the little systematic variety offered by their quintets.

the situation seems maddening in a team whose destiny was to go up, look face to face at the colossi of the East and who, after barely moving in the market, are still in the same position, or even below expectations. They get lost in the mazeand the exit seems further away than ever.

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