What will the ideal Raptors rotation look like when everyone is healthy?
The Toronto Raptors have yet to play a game at full strength this year, as the vengeful fingers of the NBA gods appear to have decided to once again saddle this team with a boatload of injuries. While Fred VanVleet has remained healthy, stars like Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, and OG Anunoby have missed time due to various ailments.
Even if this team is fully healthy, the Raptors may need to do some tinkering with the rotation. They are last in the league in bench scoring and 3-point percentage, which is putting some very unnecessary strain on the starters. Nick Nurse needs to avoid grinding them into the dirt.
However, this team is on the verge of a playoff spot, and Nurse will need to figure out a combination that works to make sure that they can stay in the hunt for as long as possible. Some delicate balancing is required in order to keep the wins piling up.
When everyone returns to full health, Nurse would be wise to stick with this rotation as the calendar starts to turn to 2022. The playoff window is still open, but the Raptors need to make sure that they nail the rotation to get the most out of this group.
The ideal Toronto Raptors rotation for the rest of 2021-22.
- Fred VanVleet: 34 minutes
- Gary Trent Jr: 31 minutes
- Dalano Banton: 12 minutes
- Malachi Flynn: 0 minutes
- Goran Dragic: 0 minutes
The Raptors have seen VanVleet step up without Kyle Lowry, as his blend of scoring and leadership look almost identical to what No. 7 was doing on a nightly basis. Trent has taken on a new role as a quality defender in addition to serving as an expert marksman from deep in his age-22 season.
On the bench, Banton has been a revelation. A second-round pick providing the level of energy and hustle that Rexdale’s finest brings to the table is extremely uncommon. Unfortunately, that’s about where the positives run out with this group, as the rest of their guard play has been suspect.
The Toronto Raptors are lacking depth at the guard spot.
While Flynn has been given a very inconsistent and oftentimes nonexistent diet of minutes, he hasn’t done a ton with the scraps of time that Nurse has handed him this season. Dragic was so bad that he was immediately shoved to the bench as Toronto tries to find a trade partner.
VanVleet and Trent should be good enough to carry this team to some regular-season wins, but sustaining this success should be very difficult without someone on the bench stepping into a greater offensive role. If Banton starts shooting more consistently, he could be the one.