ADVERTISEMENT

Do the Raptors need to reset before the trade deadline?

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto Raptors reeling. First, they lost two close matches to the Vault Magic. They then lost by a point to the Kings and succumbed to Kyrie Irving’s buzzer-beater against the Nets. And then the Steph Curry-less Warriors kicked them out of Scotiabank Arena and outlasted the 76ers in overtime.

ADVERTISEMENT

All of these defeats brought the Raptors to 10th place in the East with a 13-18 record. And their precarious perch is unlikely to improve anytime soon: The Raptors visit the up-and-coming Knicks on Wednesday, followed by a challenge from the Cavaliers, Clippers, Grizzlies, Suns, Pacers, and Bucks. They may reach the halfway point with a record in the 16-25 range or worse.

the Disappointing bulls– one spot behind Toronto in the Eastern Conference standings – is the most visible in the NBA Blow it up! candidate, but birds of prey aren’t far behind. They completely recoil from expectations, having claimed that the East does not exist. 5 seeded last season and just about every NBA nerd with a podcast thought they’d be more dangerous in 2022-23.

Rather, the birds of prey are rotten. We don’t have to look far to identify the first problem:

The worst crimes are half the court

Rank Team Points / 100 plays
Rank Team Points / 100 plays
30 missiles 87.9
29 spurs 90.1
28 hornets 90.2
27th wild birds 90.4
26 Charm 92.4
25th clippers 92.8
24 pistons 93.6

Combined with a handful of rebuilding teams and/or tankers, the Raptors have one of the worst offenses in the league. (Also note the Clippers situation here; insult them still rotten!) They try to sidestep the issue by avoiding standard half-court combinations as much as possible, thanks to the most powerful transitional attack in the league.

But they were ruined by an appalling combination of inadequate gameplay and inadequate shooting. When not allowed to run in open space, the Toronto offense often faltered, without enough creativity to generate the perfect look.

The Raptors rank second in the NBA in isolation frequency, behind offensive tackle Luka Doncic of the Mavericks, according to Second Spectrum. But the Raptors rank 26th in isolation effectiveness, averaging just 0.88 points when an iso produces a shot, error, or turnover. The other teams—except for those again wearing Clippers—that use the most isos, of course, are the best at turning those plays into points.

Most frequent quarantine users

Team ISOS/100 properties points per Iso Rank
Team ISOS/100 properties points per Iso Rank
Mavericks 27.6 1.07 Fourth
wild birds 23.9 0.88 26
clippers 22.8 0.88 25th
networks 22.1 1.12 the first
76ers 21.7 1.11 2nd

With a rotation populated mostly by non-pitchers and with guards Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. falling far short of their career standards, the Raptors also suffer from sub-par shooting everywhere on the field. According to Cleaning the Glass, they are the 17th-ranked finisher at rim, the 24th-ranked middle range, the 27th-ranked corner 3s, and the 27th-ranked 3rd over halftime. Malachi Flynn is the only turnover player to even average a field goal percentage in the league.

Raptors shooters

player 3PA 3P%
player 3PA 3P%
Malachi Flynn 50 48.0%
Pascal I’m sorry 78 34.6%
Gary Trent Jr 170 33.5%
Fred VanVleet 202 33.2%
and anunobe 121 33.1%
Scotty Barnes 95 32.6%
Juancho Hernangomez 38 31.6%
Dallano Panton 43 30.2%
Chris Boucher 76 27.6%
Thaddeus Young 19 21.1%
Precious Ichiwa 28 17.9%
Christian Clock 7 0.0%

However, this level of offensive challenge is somewhat normal at this point. Since Kawhi Leonard left after the 2018-19 championship season, the Raptors are ranked 15th, 16th, 16th and now 14th in offensive efficiency, according to Cleaning the Glass.

The problem this season is that mediocre offense is paired with uninspiring defense. The Raptors’ swarming group of 6-foot-9 marauders force the league’s highest turnover ratio, which has the dual benefit of denying opponents points and generating rush-breaking opportunities. But this approach only pays off about 20 percent of the time. The other 80 percent became catastrophic.

When the Raptors aren’t forced to turn, they hurt a lot, allowing for sky-high shooting ratios. Toronto ranks 29th in opponents’ effective field goal percentage – and also 29th in is expected Opponent eFG ratio based on factors like shooting position and defender, according to Second Spectrum. That’s because the Raptors give up a lot of high-value shots at the edge and behind the 3-point line; Only Blazers and Magic caused mediocre runners to drop, per CtG. And the positionless Raptors don’t have the staff to disrupt those thrilling looks: Opposing teams shoot 70 percent on the rim against Toronto, the third-highest mark in the league.

(The absence of precious Uchiwa hurts here, having played just 12 games due to an ankle injury. Cristian Koloko has promise but he’s not ready; the 7-foot-tall rookie leads all players with an error rate of at least 400 a minute, averaging six whistles per 75 property).

The Raptors play high stakes high return style, risk wins. After a tough weekend, the Raptors dropped to 19th in the defensive rankings, per CtG, equaling their mark from the forgotten 2020-21 campaign.

This 2020-21 season is a useful reference point as the 2022-23 edition continues to lose. As the trade deadline approaches 89 percent Of the NBA players now eligible for trade, the Raptors could be major participants in this season’s market; After all, Masai Ojiri Do not be afraid To complete a major mid-season deal.

That’s what happened in 2020-21, when the Raptors, playing in Tampa due to COVID, took a strategic step back once they realized they couldn’t compete meaningfully. They sent Norman Powell to the Trail Blazers in exchange for Trent, six years younger than Powell, and nearly traded Kyle Lowry as well. And after starting 17-17, they finished the season on a 10-28 run, including a 1-10 losing sprint to improve the lottery odds. The ghost tank—which included late-season rookies like Freddie Gillespie, Galen Harris, and Stanley Johnson—came off with rejections. 4 Pick the arrival of Scotty Barnes.

What will this hub look like this season? First things first: Barnes isn’t going anywhere. The Nobel Prize-winning Rookie of the Year has become a Thunderbolt this season due to inconsistent performances. He’s still taking on a lot of middle-class jumpers and not making much this season. But in the midst of all of Barnes’ development at Sturm und Drang, he should be fine in the long run and may have been reeling under the weight of the extra responsibilities he needed to take on with Pascal Siakam’s injury. Since Siakam’s return in late November after a 10-game absence, Barnes has bumped his all-season scoring numbers back as they settled into his rookie campaign.

Scotty Barnes Square Points

Statistic 2021-22 2022-23
Statistic 2021-22 2022-23
Points / 75 possessions 16.2 16.3
rebound/75 possessions 8 7.4
Assists / 75 possessions 3.7 5.1
Steals / 75 possessions 1.1 0.9
blocks/75 properties 0.8 0.8
2P% 54.3% 49.8%
3P% 30.1% 32.6%
FT% 73.5% 75.0%

Away from Barnes, the raptors are unlikely to move either Siakam or OG Anunoby, given their massive two-way ability; Siakam is a contender for his third All-NBA nod in four seasons, and Anunoby should make the All-Defensive Team if he plays enough games. But in a true rip-off scenario in which the Raptors decide to completely rebuild around a younger Barnes, that duo could be moved, especially because Siakam is up for free agency after next season and Anunoby could join him by declining a player option.

And if Siaqam and Anunobi will be available via trade, a host of teams would be interested. Anunoby would be particularly apt in New Orleans or Memphis, Siakam in the latter city, because both young rookie teams could use another big impact winger, and both are brimming with Young talent And the property rights project Necessary to great success – although matching salaries, particularly Siakam’s $35 million salary, can be challenging.

On the contrary, guards of birds of prey seem more intuitive. VanVleet and Trent both have player options for next season, but they will likely decline to become free agents in the off-season, and so may not stay in the Raptors’ long-term plans as easily as the core members of the 6-foot-9 crew.

As far as VanVleet is concerned, not many contenders need a point guard, and Minnesota, perhaps the potential rival most in need of point guard assistance, doesn’t have any trading options. However, there are still a few good fits.

The Lakers are an obvious choice, given their desperate need to score goals in the perimeter, although a month’s absence of Anthony Davis could curb their appetite for a lucrative deal now. VanVleet will also make sense in Dallas, where his off-the-ball experience playing alongside Lowry will help him be a much-needed replacement for Jalen Brunson. (Hey, Bronson replaced VanVleet as the Knicks’ target guard in free agency, so it’d only be right if VanVleet replaced Bronson elsewhere.) And in a very different, if less likely, direction if the Magic–just of a six-game winning streak ! Including two in Boston! —Want to fix his omnipresent guard issues with a veteran, VanVleet will do great in Orlando for the rest of this season and beyond.

Of all the current Raptors, Trent seems the most likely to leave if Ujiri decides to sell at the deadline, for three reasons. First, he collapsed on both sides of the ball, and fell out of the starting lineup after coach Nick Nurse He said Trent’s defensive sluggishness meant “he just didn’t fit us” anymore. Second, he will presumably have a lower draft pick cost from another team than any other major Raptor team. Third, he has a looming payday this summer, and just as the athleteEric Coren NotesTrent could be the odd man out as the Raptors anticipate extensions for Seacam, Anunobi and Barnes in the coming years.

Still, Trent has been glimpsed as a troublesome defender when he comes on, as well as a microwave scorer who, despite his inconsistency this season, is still a 38-percent shooter from long range. Essentially, every non-Celtics team could use another two-way guard off the bench, so it’s not hard to imagine someone — the Dollars and Suns are particularly apt — snapping at a trade and hoping a change in scenery helps good copy Trent resurface.

Whatever level of sale Ujiri decides, whether he’s sticking with Trent on his own, dealing with VanVleet as well, or complementing real success with an NBA talent – it’s more evident with each frustrating loss than some kind of shake-up. Essential for the dying Raptors team. The situation isn’t quite as dire as it is in Chicago; At the very least, the Raptors have a bunch of two-way players and a future center piece in Barnes. They don’t need to blow it up. But they’re not achieving their remote potential for this season either, and seeking a strategic dip to reset it for next season will make more sense than seeking a place to play with a team that can’t score.

Sunday match stats.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
%d bloggers like this: