The Raptors have started the season with a 13-4 record, but major changes to the roster and coaching staff may have prevented the team from reaching its full potential so far.
Nick Nurse was hired as new head coach, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green were acquired in a blockbuster trade, and the rapid improvement of third-year player Pascal Siakam has forced the team to shuffle lineups in the season’s first month.
“We’re not executing as much as we’d like to, obviously,” Green said, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “I think that we get a little stagnant at times late in games, but that just comes from us being new to each other … figuring it out and learning.”
Toronto lost three straight games entering Saturday’s win over the Bulls, but still sits atop the Eastern Conference with the NBA’s best record. The team has a solid mix of players who can play on both ends, and the more experience the club gains together, the better they can become.
“Once we get a little more rhythm and identity, we’ll have some good go-to plays down the stretch that we know we can rely on,” Green said.
There’s more from around the Eastern Conference today:
- The Knicks are trying to pacify Enes Kanter, in the view of Marc Berman of the New York Post, who suggests Kanter could be unhappy with sitting down the stretch of the team’s game against the Pelicans Friday. Kanter played 15 minutes and was the first player to leave the locker room, also sending a cryptic tweet moments after the game. He opted not to answer media questions directed towards his playing time.
- Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb has thrived in his first year of being a starter, Basketball Insiders’ Spencer Davies writes. Lamb has averaged a career-best 13.4 points per game in his fourth season with Charlotte. “Being a starting two-guard in the league is not easy,” coach James Borrego said. “You gotta guard every single night, can’t take a night off. So I give (Jeremy) a lot of credit. He’s grown up a lot this season. I’m proud of him and I think he’s growing every single game.”
- The 76ers‘ acquisition of Jimmy Butler will force them to face new challenges in the future, Derek Bodner of The Athletic writes. Philadelphia is expected to be in the forefront of contention in the East, with the team featuring a “Big 3” of Butler, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.