The Toronto Raptors seem like a breeding ground for myths. We as fans like blaming someone when the Raptors lose. Let’s look at some myths.
Myth #1: Dwane Casey is a bad coach
Dwane Casey’s head was on the chopping block last season heading into game seven against the Pacers. If the Raptors didn’t win that game he likely would have been terminated. Not only did he help coach the Raptors to victory in that series winning game, but his coaching helped the Raptors get by the Heat as well in the next round. It’s almost impossible to argue Casey is the best coach in the NBA but to argue he is one of the worst is ludicrous. In 2013, Dwane coached the Raptors to 48 wins. In 2014, Casey led the Raptors to 49 wins. Last year he set the franchise record for wins at 56. This season the Raptors have a winning record again under Dwane Casey. There are not many current coaches in the NBA with four consecutive winning seasons. However, when the Raptors lose a group of fans always want to blame him. Prior to last season, Casey didn’t have the best playoff record with the Raptors. It’s hard to win in the playoffs. Look at Brad Stevens and the Celtics. Most people think he’s a good coach, but the playoff success hasn’t been there for him. You can dislike particular things about Dwane Casey, but it’s hard to suggest he’s a bad coach.
Myth #2: Isolations doesn’t win games
Everybody loves hero ball when the shot goes down. However, it’s hard to watch one player hold the ball when the game is on the line and miss the critical shot. The Raptors have been near the bottom of the league in assists over the last few years. They do no move the ball well. That’s not an alternative fact. The Raptors have won the majority of games with the ball in the hands of either Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan. With Lowry injured DeRozan has had to take an even bigger share of the offense. Remember when I said the Raptors were near the bottom of the league in assists? Yeah, that was with Lowry and he is the Raptors best playmaker. Without him, there has been even less ball movement which has led to more isolations for DeRozan. It’s definitely not ideal, but this is how the Raptors have to win games. And let’s not forget the days of Lou Williams and Greivis Vasquez. Those guys loved to shoot first and weren’t/aren’t anywhere near as talented as DeRozan. The Raptors won under that style back then and they are winning under that style now.
Myth #3: The Raptors would be better off without DeRozan
People like to point to advanced stats and tell you that DeRozan’s net rating isn’t good. They aren’t wrong, but that doesn’t mean DeRozan isn’t good. DeRozan isn’t a good defensive player. However, he’s been one of the best offensive players in the NBA this season. DeMar is often asked to guard a good player on the opposing team. It doesn’t always end well, but it’s hard to suggest certain bench players on the Raptors would be better playing in DeRozan’s shoes. For one, those bench players are often playing against other bench players. So, the net rating of the Raptors bench players might be misleading. If they were to go against stars it’s safe to assume their net rating likely wouldn’t look as good. If you have watched DeMar DeRozan play enough games this season it’s clear the Raptors desperately need his scoring. Another argument against DeRozan is how poorly he played against the Pacers in the playoffs. It’s hard to argue he played well in that series because he didn’t. Paul George is one of the best wing defenders in the league and might be DeMar DeRozan’s kryptonite, but that’s hardly a reason to suggest the Raptors would be better off against the other 28 teams in the league.
Myth #4: Jonas Valanciunas isn’t good
I’m on record for saying that Jonas Valanciunas is a future all-star. It might be hard to imagine that considering how his season has gone. Jonas is a very good scorer in the paint as well as a very good rebounder. The problem with Valanciunas is he needs touches to be productive. He’s not a great defender so if he’s not getting the ball on offense he’s only really giving you rebounding. And the Raptors aren’t giving him the ball. It’s hard for any player in the NBA to be successful if they aren’t put in a position where they can succeed. Jonas Valanciunas was the Raptors most consistent player in the playoffs last season before getting injured. He took the lunch money from Myles Turner and Hassan Whiteside. You know the talent is there. Furthermore, Jonas has extended the range of his shot this season. If the Raptors want Jonas Valanciunas to be good they need to get him the ball.
Myth #5: PJ Tucker doesn’t fit the modern NBA because he cannot shoot
Guess who’s back, back again. Tucker is back, tell a friend. When the Raptors drafted PJ Tucker in 2006 he wasn’t ready for the NBA. After his rookie season Tucker played overseas. When he came back to the NBA in 2012 with the Phoenix Suns he showed major improvements. At the trade deadline, the Raptors essentially gave up two second round picks and some guy that likes to eat for Tucker. In this era of pace and space, it is presumed that defense-only players will not succeed. There is certainly some merit to that, but Tucker isn’t a defense-only player. Yes, he’s a great physical defender that can go up against almost any wing in the NBA, but Tucker does good things on offense as well. He can get an offensive board and use his size to get to the rim. Plus, through six games with the Raptors, he has shot 43% from three. Okay, I tried some trickery there and you didn’t fall for it. Tucker has only shot three of seven from three with the raptors. It is extremely unlikely he continues to shoot at that clip and that’s okay. Tucker’s physicality and mental toughness help keep the Raptors in games. That alone means he’s a good fit for the Raptors and the NBA.
What Toronto Raptors myths did I miss? Let me know in the comments.