Prior to Friday’s game against Charlotte, Eric Koreen of The Athletic and Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca both made the case that the Raptors should make a lineup change. Koreen advocated for Gary Trent Jr. to replace Dennis Schröder in the starting five, with Murphy acknowledging that’s the “most obvious immediate move.”
The logic, as Murphy explains, is that the trio of Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Scottie Barnes would benefit from playing with at least one outside shooter, if not two. Instead, the three forwards have spent most of the season alongside Schröder, an inconsistent marksman (he’s at 33.3% on threes this season) and Jakob Poeltl, a non-shooter. The five-man unit had a minus-3.1 net rating entering Friday, which isn’t acceptable for the team’s top lineup, writes Murphy.
However, head coach Darko Rajakovic stuck with his usual group against the Hornets. The starting five spent 17 minutes on the floor together and was outscored by three points during that time while making just 2-of-11 outside shots. The rest of the Raptors’ lineups played Charlotte to a draw, but the starters’ three-point deficit was ultimately reflected in the final score: Toronto lost 119-116 to fall to 9-13 on the season.
Here’s more on the Raptors:
- The Raptors are at a familiar crossroads, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca, who says the team has failed to properly judge the level of its roster and where it stands relative to its competition in recent years. The franchise can’t afford to make that mistake again and will need to be prepared to make difficult personnel decisions at this season’s trade deadline, Grange writes.
- Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca explores the same subject as Grange, suggesting that time is running out for the current roster to prove it deserves to be kept intact. Within his story, Lewenberg cites league sources who say the Raptors still haven’t opened extension negotiations with Siakam but also haven’t discussed him in trade talks since the summer. Siakam will be an unrestricted free agent in 2024.
- Mouhamadou Gueye has gotten off to a strong start for the Raptors 905 this season, averaging 15.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks in 32.4 minutes per game through his first nine contests with Toronto’s G League affiliate. Gueye would’ve been the most logical in-house candidate to fill the two-way contract slot that opened when the Raptors waived Ron Harper Jr., according to Murphy, but he’s currently dealing with a neck injury. Using that two-way spot to sign Jontay Porter away from another organization will provide the banged-up 905 with some additional depth.