Why the Raptors are the kind of team no one really wants to face

With the start of the 2022-23 NBA season fast approaching, I’m taking a closer look at some of the most exciting teams in the NBA (for me, if not necessarily for anyone else). After stopping in DenverAnd the New OrleansAnd the Minnesota And the Memphiswe conclude our journey north of the frontier, where patterns squabble.

The NBA has a “point forward” attack on the initiation days ago Rick Barry, Paul Bressy and Marquis Johnson. ‘Little Ball’ formations featuring five ocean players dating back to Celtics Red Auerbach; One of those teams in Boston, Don Nelson, will continue his work generalization of this practice In the ’80s and ’90s as head coach of the Bucks and Warriors, years ago “seven seconds or less” And the “we believe” She reintroduced the contemporary NBA concept. Units that can seamlessly exchange defensive missions at any moment have become popular when Golden Statedynastic era. Now, turning ball screens on and off is a staple of modern defenses.

And all of this says: Toronto Raptors They are not revolutionary per se. We have seen the components of their special composition in different forms and functions before. I’m also not sure it fits the technical definition of “Local Revolution” It was also brought up again in Aughts by Nathaniel Friedman and the gang in FreeDarko A structural naval change in which players erased the traditional boundaries and boundaries of basketball doctrine, taking on responsibilities based more on their skills than their size and the broader project of what their teams were trying to achieve.

MONTREAL, CANADA - OCTOBER 14: Toronto Raptors #4 Scotty Barnes dribble the ball against Derek White #9 of the Boston Celtics during the first half of an NBA pre-season game at Center Bell on October 14, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada .  The Toronto Raptors defeated the Boston Celtics 137-134 in overtime.  Note to User: User expressly acknowledges and agrees, by downloading or using this image, that User agrees to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Lovers of birds of prey are really excited Scotty Barnes. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

On the one hand, the presence and primacy Fred Vanfleet It seems to complicate the picture; What should you make for a 6-foot-tall organizer that plays right and sticks like a sore thumb on a team full of 6-foot-5, 5-by-6-foot-9 sporting superstars? VanVleet, on the other hand, isn’t just a conventional view of what the norm should be: He ranked third in the NBA last season with three throws and fifth in 3-point attempts, with a roughly equal split between Pull And the pick up and pick up Try. VanVleet spent large areas of his time on the ground working on the ball in Somewhat Stevian’s role, using his bird’s threat to open up more space for other raptors to overcome the elusiveness. “From each as he can” and all that.

If nothing else, though, the raptors an act It seems to satisfy the requirement of “a group of do-it-all eccentrics whose contributions shift from acquisition to acquisition”. That doesn’t always make Toronto The most beautiful watch in the world. Raps, though, can make a great remedy for the stylistic similarity of a league full of teams trying to hit triples and triples while only forcing average players… and when everything clicks, it can also make them very dangerous.

Pascal Siakamhis feelings and shoulder Now fully recovered from Dark Soul Night test in South Florida, is not a primary destroyer on the level of LeBron or Giannis. It’s closer than you think, though: a 22-8-5 in .560 real shooting It doesn’t exactly grow on treeswhich is even rarer when combined with the ability to protect from 1 to 5. VanVleet combines high-volume long-range shooting – only five players have ever seen in NBA history They are fired often and with the same accuracy As it did last season – with the All-Defensive-Team caliber serving as a point attack handicap, lock and trace ace, steals magnet and deflectors.

VanVleet made his first All-Star team last season; Siakam earned his second All-NBA nod. However, the Raptor isn’t what everyone gets most excited about.

It’s hard to remember now, but it It came as a surprise To many draft analysts, Toronto chose Scotty Barnes instead Galen Suggs With the fourth pick in 2021. But then Barnes got into the NBA and started kind of straight away He makes his way to 15 and 8 with a few passes and steals every night. And just for fun, the rookie did it while guarding a curse near everyone: Barnes ranked first out of 272 players who scored in at least 1,000 minutes last season. BBall indicatorDefensive Versatility Scaledividing his defensive tasks roughly evenly across the five positions.

Before long, it became clear (as if we needed more evidence) that Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster, Nick Norse, and the rest of the Raptors family know exactly What they had at Barnes: a plug-and-play connector who could contribute enough to start play, play key minutes for a playoff team, and win Rookie of the Year without controlling the ball. It’s also beginning to become clear that Barnes’ combination of size, touch and innate playmaking skill at such a young age could point to a future in which he might be. should dominate it.

Meanwhile, how significant was Barnes’ jump in the offensive end over the summer — as a ball coach, as a 3-point shooter (only 30.1 percent from long distance, including 29% in the appearance of the photo shoot), and as a source of easy points inside – characters that go a long way in determining if the Raptors’ crime is over. 26th place in scoring efficiency in the middle of the field He will do better against specific defenses this season. More bankable shooting along with VanVleet and sniper Gary Trent Jr. (Entry A very big decade!), after Toronto finished 19th with three points Make And the Efforts Last season. The rap team is hoping for a healthy recovery from OG Anunoby, who shot 39.5 percent from distance. During the previous two seasons before declining at higher volume in 2021-22. The addition of a free agent — Otto Porter Jr. — well-suited as a convertible large (6ft-8 with a 7ft-1 wingspan) who shot 37 percent from depth in a spinning role for the Warriors hero—could provide a boost, too.

The most interesting prospective assistant ever? Great third year Precious Ichiwa. A screen threat and diver who squabbled during his first half of his season in Toronto after joining the team at Kyle Lowry By scoring and trading, Achiuwa shot 40.4 percent from a 3-point ground in more than three attempts per game. after 1 february. If what Achiuwa showed as a shooter is real – and there Reason to believe it might be – He can play a bigger role in Toronto’s spin as explosives and An eminently capable multinational defender Who can participate as an edge runner in transition, as a screening agent (and perhaps eventually a ball player?) in a pick-and-roll game, as a positional threat who can take opposing centers out of pain, and as a catcher who can beat the shot, put the ball on the deck, and reach to the cup, depending on what the acquisition requires.

The Raptors’ defensive mayhem engine ranks among the most difficult to dissect in the NBA. That’s partly because they can wave a wave of go-go-gadget-armed grinders on every possession. It’s also partly because of how comfortable Nurse is to spread all that length across all sorts of coverage schemes: switch, drop, fight and trap, hedge and recover, full-court press, match zones, you name it. But just as effective as all this variety – Tenth in points allowed per possession last season and Peaks create turnoverKick-off is devastating transitional attack – Toronto will need answers when the game slows down and narrows, because when you are Number 26 in the shot frequency on the edge And the 24th in free throw averageYou won’t defeat the kind of elite defenses you’ll see in the post-season.

This research will require constant experimentation and greater creativity on the part of the nurse. It may also require more patience; A coach tends to ride players he trusts until their wheels fall off. He doesn’t expect to lean on Siakam and VanVleet for 38 minutes a night to keep crime afloat, then be surprised when they get injured or run out of gas in April.

wild birds You have To find a way to get easier buckets, whether it’s in the form of jumping Barnes and Achiwa, the Sicam-Fanfleet-Anonobi trio keeps them healthy, another source of suddenly attacking (new movie star Juancho Hernangomez? Big sophomore point Dalano Banton? High-ranking game maker Thaddeus Young? Toronto commercial target may catch Full set of first-round picks Still at her disposal?) …or, ideally, a combination of all of the above. The good news: When you already have a versatile core like Siakam, VanVleet, Barnes, and Anunoby, you don’t necessarily have to look for certain types of help; Seize the most attractive opportunity available to you, and trust that one of the league’s brightest and most resilient talent pools will position itself to make way for and maximize newcomers.

Whether this approach to building rosters, managing rotations, planning games, and solving problems constitutes a disruption of established standards or just a simple evolution, I’m not really sure. What I do know, however, is that the healthy and fully functional Raptors galloping into town with their top guns are an opponent no one in the East would want to deal with in the spring. On the other hand, I would like to see her more often. The Revolution may not be televised, but I’m about to see everything these Raptors show on film.

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