Welcome to my first Raptors mailbag. I’m not the best carrier of mail.
Dwane Casey’s depth chart and or minutes distribution often isn’t the most logical thing. I don’t think we really know the answer to this question considering Delon Wright was injured and has only been healthy for about a week. Fred VanVleet has looked surprisingly competent at times. This is rarely something the Raptors have found from undrafted rookies. The Raptors definitely need to start playing Delon Wright and figure out what they have in him. At the very least it might boost his trade value.
On the internet, it’s important to note that no one gets along. Prior to the season, I said the Celtics were the biggest threat to the Cavs heading into the season and I still feel that way. If that doesn’t make Celtics fans love me I don’t know what will. Disclaimer for my fellow Raptors fans: I apologize for the statements I had made. I ask you NOT to read anything into them and please assume they are false. I will do everything in my power to win back your trust.
Casey messing with Norman Powell’s minutes this season is criminal. Powell has earned a consistent role on this team. Norman needs a steady role of playing AT LEAST 20-25 minutes every night regardless if DeRozan is playing or not. It’s hard for any player in the NBA to be successful if they don’t have a consistent role. I don’t think it matters if Powell starts or not as long as those minutes are there for him. However, I don’t think Norm will ever develop into a player like Kawhi. That’s not a knock against him. Kawhi Leonard is one of the best two-way wings in the NBA and to expect Powell to become that is unfair. You make a could point about developing Powell behind DeRozan. That is currently what that Raptors are doing and it is seemingly infuriating Raptors fans. The problem here is DeRozan likes the ball in his hands, so it often makes sense to put a catch and shoot wing beside him like Terrence Ross. I think Powell is better than Ross, but I think Powell is most effective with the ball in his hands. It’s hard for him to get that opportunity playing next to DeRozan. For the Raptors to be successful, Dwane Casey needs to instruct DeRozan to share the touches with Powell when they are on the floor together.
At some point, I believe there needs to be a shift in the offense that makes the Raptors a more team oriented ball club rather than just live and die by the Lowry and DeRozan hero ball. Jonas Valanciunas is a good scorer that isn’t getting enough touches. Norman Powell has been really good with the ball in his hands. We saw last year in the playoffs DeRozan and Lowry implode against the Pacers. The team relied on Valanciunas to be the most consistent Raptor. Also, Powell sparked a massive comeback that saved the Raptors in that series. The Raptors offense reminds me of how Ron Artest describes the triangle. “Get the ball to Kobe and get the f*** out the way.” When it’s working for DeRozan it’s been great this season, but it's something that is almost impossible to maintain through the playoffs especially when DeRozan is going up against some of the best players in the league.
When the Raptors were blowing out teams earlier in the year the opposing team was often missing a key player. The Raptors big wins came against Hawks without Millsap, Grizzlies without Conley, Celtics without Thomas, and Lakers without Russell. So the Raptors probably appeared to be better than they were. The Raptors aren’t as bad as they have been playing and should break out of this slump very soon. However, that doesn’t mean the Raptors are a lock to get back to being the two seed in the East.
Big sexy turtle deserves minutes. Okay, it was known Jakob Poeltl wasn’t the sexiest pick in the draft and that was fine. The Raptors knew they couldn’t pay Bismack Biyombo this summer, so they drafted his replacement. Little did they know that Bebe would take a major leap forward this season. Bebe is essentially blocking Poeltl from playing right now because there aren’t enough minutes to go around. The fact that Jakob Poeltl is dressed and always ready to play for the Raptors is a good sign. I think he’s going to be a very good role player in the NBA. The Raptors window is now and it’s hard for them to develop young players if the players in front of them have been balling out.
I have never been a fan of Cory Joseph. He's not a good playmaker for a point guard and he isn't a good defender. Cojo did pick up the clutchness bug from the Spurs. So, he does pull a crazy bucket out of his a** from time to time.
I think the Raptors don’t have great defensive players. Terrence Ross has been thought of a 3 and D player. He brings the 3, but I don’t see the D. Show me the D! Lowry can be awesome on defense some nights and be deplorable other nights. Bebe is really the only guy that has been consistently good on defense, but his problem is he isn’t a great rebounder. I honestly don’t have a good answer to this question.
If a roster spot were to open up for the Raptors my guess would be they would look to add a vet with playoff experience. There’s no point bringing in another young guy when the Raptors don’t have enough minutes to give to their current young guys.
Oh, hot damn. This is my jam. I’ve been pushing for the Raptors to look at trading for Serge Ibaka. I really love Serge Ibaka, but I also love Jonas Valanciunas. I also really liked the Jakob Poeltl pick. This trade would be tough for me, but I think… You know what I’m copping out on this one. The Magic aren’t doing this trade. If they did it they would have 3 centes with Biyombo, Valanciunas, and Poeltl. It opens up minutes for Aaron Gordon at power forward with Ibaka gone, but I’m not even sure Gordon would pair well with any of those centes. There’s just not enough spacing.
Thanks for all the great questions!