You ought to NOT sleep on the Toronto Raptors. Seriously, don’t: they’ll take your group’s soul in the event you’re not cautious. Nick Nurse’s group has been among the finest outfits within the league for the reason that All-Star break. After an inconsistent first half of the season, the group has leaned into their wacky identification and began bamboozling the remainder of the league with their size.
When you speak concerning the Raptors this season, the one factor most individuals level to is their protection. That has been their calling card since Nurse’s set up as the top coach in 2018. They play sensible, laborious protection that focuses on keying in on the opponent’s stars and limiting paint factors. It’s frenetic, high-energy, managed chaos that retains their opponents guessing.
However, speaking about their nice protection might be doing a disservice to the one factor they’ve been fairly good at this season. It’s time to speak concerning the REAL motive why this Toronto Raptors group is a real matchup nightmare for anybody within the Eastern Conference.
The true motive why Pascal Siakam, Raptors might be unstoppable within the 2022 NBA playoffs
Yes, the protection is top-notch. The Raptors are fast, adaptable, and have a bevy of defensive schemes they’ll deploy towards completely different offenses. However, one underrated facet of Toronto’s season is their versatility on the opposite aspect of the ball. It’s excessive time we speak concerning the Raptors’ extremely potent assault.
Most offenses within the NBA at the moment depend on a “helio-centric” mannequin of kinds. What it means is that these groups have one singular star that does all of the playmaking, whereas being surrounded by elite role-players and/or complementary stars. Just a few examples of those are James Harden’s Rockets of previous, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, and LeBron James and the 2020 Lakers.
While it’s confirmed to be extraordinarily profitable over the previous couple of years, one caveat of this profitable roster is the necessity for a game-breaking star. The Raptors… don’t precisely have that star of their group. Instead, nevertheless, Toronto has determined to divvy up their scoring round their principal guys. These are Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr, Scottie Barnes, and OG Anunoby.
These 5 Raptors have one factor in widespread: all of them are averaging over 15 factors per recreation this season. Siakam leads the way in which with 22.8, whereas Barnes clocks in at 15.3. This has been a constant theme for the Raptors since Kawhi Leonard’s departure from the group: they have been in a position to do that final season and the 2019 season as effectively.
Now, it’s potential for different groups that depend on one star to have this distributed manufacturing as effectively. However, what units the Raptors other than these different groups are the skillsets of those gamers. All 5 of them are succesful isolation scorers in their very own proper. However, they’re able to plug and play into completely different units within the offense. They’re additionally in a position to be the point of interest of the offense if want be.
While some groups need to stagger their gamers and encompass them with much less succesful playmakers, the Raptors are in a position to not do this. In principle, they may be capable of subject not less than two of those 5 gamers in any lineup, making issues quite a bit simpler for his or her bench + one/two starter lineups.
No one particular person is required to shoulder the entire offensive playmaking and scoring, as a result of all 5 of them can. Barnes, specifically, has been mighty spectacular as a rookie. He carried the Raptors unit at instances along with his velocity and playmaking. His versatility permits the group to theoretically subject a two-man mixture that includes him, Siakam, and VanVleet at any level.
A great omen
Over the previous couple of years, the Raptors have constructed up a fame as one of many best-run organizations within the league. Masai Ujiri’s appointment as normal supervisor sparked an enormous change within the franchise for the higher. He turned the moribund Bryan Colangelo-led franchise right into a top-tier group within the NBA.
There’s no higher proof of their successful methods than this pattern of the Raptors we talked about. Over the three seasons we talked about above, the one constants throughout these intervals have been Nick Nurse, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby. Anunoby wasn’t a 15 level scorer in 2019, and now he’s at 18 PPG.
There’s additionally the truth that Nurse has been in a position to incorporate completely different gamers into his schemes seamlessly. Trent Jr. went to the Raptors and instantly turned a big-time contributor for them. Same goes for Barnes. Other gamers that didn’t crack the 15-point barrier even have built-in into the lineup cleanly.
That consistency is encouraging for Raptors followers in every single place. It’s proof that irrespective of who the gamers on the group are, they may all the time, ALWAYS discover a approach to rating. It additionally bodes effectively for his or her playoff possibilities this yr: even when one man will get shut down, there’ll all the time be somebody to choose up the slack.