“You have to adapt,” Dwane Casey said from his perch behind the podium at the Toronto Raptors media day on Monday, “or you die.” That warning has been at the forefront since the Raptors were eliminated from the playoffs last spring. At his season-ending presser, team president Masai Ujiri stressed the need for a “culture change” in orde to catch up to NBA’s on-court trends, and Casey has spent his summer discussing the ways in which he and his team must evolve. Whether or not Toronto’s offence will be able to heed that call remains the biggest on-court talking point heading into the 2017-18 season. It’s about more than just finding ways to put points on the board. Last season, despite having a historically-low assist rate — their 18.5 assists per game was also a league-low, nearly half as many as Golden State — the Raptors still finished in the upper tier in offence. They were 10th in points per game (106.9), sixth in offensive rating (109.8), and tied for fifth in points-per-shot (1.27). So it’s not like the Raptors weren’t able to generate scoring — what is being addressed heading into this season is how those points are being produced. The task for the Raptors isn’t to be revolutionary, just not stuck in the past. The Raptors offence the past few seasons has been well-suited to the roster but fairly archaic. Often they work to get the ball to a go-to player (read: DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry), or a hot hand, wait for said player to do something, and move on to plan B if things don’t work out. “For the longest time in the NBA,” says Amin Elhassan, a former member of Steve Kerr’s front office staff on the Phoenix Suns and current ESPN analyst, “this is how offences were built.” While that approach forces defenders to try to slow an opponents’ best players, creating an obvious physical strain on the defence, it also makes guarding a team fairly predictable.
Why Raptors’ iso-heavy offence must ‘adapt or die’
Sportsnet | Sep 26