The Raptors have been hit hard by the injury bug this month and played Wednesday’s game – a loss to Brooklyn – without Pascal Siakam (groin), Fred VanVleet (non-COVID illness), Scottie Barnes (ankle), Precious Achiuwa (ankle), Dalano Banton (ankle/illness), and Otto Porter Jr. (toe).
Although head coach Nick Nurse is known for getting creative with lineups and schemes, he said on Wednesday that he’s not exactly relishing the opportunity to have to cobble together five-man units without so many of his key players available, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.
“Not really, to be honest with you. Once in a while, you might enjoy the challenge, but not for three weeks in a row here. It’s getting… it’s not that enjoyable,” Nurse said. “… It’s not the end of the world, and it’s not like we haven’t played very well, because I think we have. If you look at some of our metrics… I think we’re still top 10 in offense and defense in the league and all that stuff, with all these injuries we’ve had for multiple weeks.”
The Raptors do have the 10th-best offensive rating in the NBA (112.7), but have slipped a few spots on defense in the last week and now rank 14th in defensive rating (110.9).
Here’s more out of Toronto:
- Gary Trent Jr.‘s offense has been up and down this season, as he’s shooting just 40.7% from the floor and 31.1% on three-pointers, his worst marks since his rookie year. However, Nurse is more concerned about Trent’s regression as a defender this season, and issued a challenge this week to the fifth-year swingman. “We’re gonna get him his shots and get him his points, but we want him to be a disruptor,” Nurse said, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. “He kinda fits us if he does that, and if he doesn’t, he doesn’t fit us.”
- According to Lewenberg, the Raptors told inquiring teams over the summer that they view Trent as an important part of their core, so it’s unlikely that stance has changed this early in the season. Still, he’ll be a player worth watching as the season progresses. He holds an $18.8MM player option for 2023/24, so he can become an unrestricted free agent next summer if he declines that option.
- Veteran forward Thaddeus Young wasn’t part of Toronto’s regular rotation during the first couple weeks of the season, but he has been playing more lately and has provided some stability with so many players sidelined, Lewenberg writes in a separate TSN.ca story. “He’s been good. He’s doing a good job leadership-wise, too,” Nurse said of Young. “He’s good in the huddles and he’s trying to keep those guys going. So, he’s been a true pro.”
- The Raptors have several talented defenders on their roster, but OG Anunoby has turned into the club’s top weapon on that side of the ball, says Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Anunoby is under contract through the 2023/24 season, with a player option for ’24/25, and will become extension-eligible next October.