Once a week, we here at Raptors Watch will be asked a question that we shall then answer. Not all of our writers will always weigh in on the question, and it may not always be the same writers either. So without further ado, here’s the first question: the Raptors’ offense has looked stagnant recently. What must they do to fix it?
The problem for me starts with Kyle Lowry. He hasn’t been nearly consistent enough or aggressive enough at running the show for the Raptors to have continuous success. After Jose Calderon left, Lowry was handed the keys to run the team and the expectations for him have gone through the roof. What we’re seeing now is that Lowry is a different type of point guard, who’s having a hard time trying to adjust to a team where he must make the offense go instead of just attacking himself at opportune moments. Nearly every trip down the floor results in the ball getting stuck out on the perimeter in the hands of DeMar or Gay, where they’re expected to make magic happen.
We’re lacking a player to run the offense through in the post. Right now we’re relying on DeMar running off of curls and Rudy Gay perimeter ISOs to trigger the offense but it’s just not a viable way to maintain a consistent offense. Having either of the aforementioned players getting touches in the post helps but it would also force us to play small ball since we don’t have enough spacing to accommodate them. The way I see it the offense needs to run through Bargnani or Valanciunas in the post. Unfortunately Bargnani is in a massive slump and it’s been frustrating to see him play and Valanciunas is a rookie. Personally I’d like to see Valanciunas get incorporated in sets more rather than being used as a screener. He has a good 15fter jumper and he’s pretty good at blowing by his man or backing them down. Spacing might still be a problem but I think having DeRozan and Gay would give him more space to operate than the other way around.
For me the answer lies with ball movement. I think while Gay has been that boost of star power we needed, I find there has been, more than usual, one on one play. When the ball moves it makes for much better looks and higher efficiency. It’s really that simple.
The problem for me comes down to coaching. I’ve been a huge advocate for Dwane Casey – even at the beginning of this season; but I’m starting to lose faith in him to lead us in a head coaching role. I’ve questioned his rotations quite a bit; but now I’m seriously questioning his entire game plan. Often when you look at this Raptors team, it feels like watching pick-up basketball at the local YMCA.
It’s just unorganized.
Every offensive sequence is painfully the same – and easily read by the opponent’s defense. Dribble the ball up the court, swing it around aimlessly, and then hit a contested shot from long range. Usually the ball ends up in the hands of Gay, DeRozan, Anderson, Lowry, and Lucas III. The bigs barely get any touches inside, and the ball barely goes inside – ever.
I mean think about it, the Raptors have so many players who can score inside, but for some reason would rather jack a much lower percentage shot from deep – contested at that.
On this roster, we have:
- One of the best wing combos in the entire league
- Two big-men who can score in the post
- A 7-footer who can shoot from deep, can drive, and post-up (although you can’t force him to show effort)
- A point-guard who was a beast in Houston at hitting threes and driving to the basket
There are so many weapons on this team and it’s baffling that Dwane Casey isn’t taking advantage of it in the right way. I believe that setting some screens, getting the ball inside, proper iso’s – all these things could help us get better looks on offense.
The current strategy might work on odd NBA nights where you’re absolutely on fire, but a solid defensive team can expose this weakness easily.
This team is far more talented and better on paper than it’s record. With proper coaching, this team is a 4th to 5th seed in my opinion.