Morning Coffee – Wed, Oct 11

Poeltl at the centre of attention (sorry) | GM's not impressed by Toronto | Masai and Rogers feuding

Centre of attention: Poeltl to be a constant in Toronto Raptors lineup this season

Poeltl averaged 12.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists between Toronto and San Antonio last season. Significantly, he averaged 26.5 minutes last season — 27.2 minutes after being traded to the Raptors — over 72 games with the two teams.

That kind of stamina will be important as he eats most of Toronto’s minutes at centre, especially with backup Christian Koloko out indefinitely with ongoing respiratory issues.

Poeltl’s most likely pick-and-roll partner will be Dennis Schroeder. The 30-year-old point guard signed with Toronto on July 12. He averaged 12.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game with the Los Angeles Lakers last season.

“(Schroeder’s) played well on so many different teams in so many different systems. I’m pretty confident that we’re going to be able to figure it out pretty quickly,” said Poeltl. “I’ve watched him play, and seen him play this summer for the German national team as well, he’s really got some stuff to him.

“It’s just about figuring out those small details, but I’m pretty confident we’re going to be able to be on track pretty fast.”

If they can’t immediately figure out that chemistry, Poeltl said that he and Schroeder can just fall back to calling audibles on the court in their native German.

“Maybe we’ll get some sneak plays in, a little bit of secret communication,” joked Poeltl.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 10, 2023.

Hollinger: 12 NBA players you may not know who will impact this season – The Athletic

McDaniels quietly moved into a pretty significant role in Toronto, one that was underscored in the first preseason game when he spent huge chunks of the first half playing with two other 6-9 forwards (O.G. Anunoby and Pascal Siakam) in a big, switchable arrangement at the two-three-four spots. A low-key signing for a modest two years and $9 million with the biannual exception, he nonetheless fills a glaring hole in the Raptors’ rotation after Toronto’s bench flat-lined in 2022-23.

Of course, McDaniels still has to deliver on his end of the bargain. Philadelphia acquired him at the trade deadline in 2023 expecting similar results, but he quickly fell out of favor and saw just 36 seconds of clock in Philly’s last four playoff games. That isn’t an option this time around, as Toronto doesn’t really have another athletic combo forward to replace him; that’s especially true if first-rounder Gradey Dick isn’t part of the rotation, as he wasn’t on Sunday.

The good news for Toronto is that McDaniels seemed to fit right in, if one preseason game is any measure, with 11 points on five shots in the Raptors’ win over Sacramento. BORD$ rates him as an $11 million value, making him one of the best unrestricted free agent signings of the summer.

Player Preview: Will O.G. Anunoby take a leap this season? – Raptors HQ

Expect more of the same from Anunoby, which means one of the truly elite ‘3-and-D’ players in the NBA — one who is routinely in the middle of all the best things that happen to Toronto on the court.

I think some modest improvement in Anunoby’s playmaking is possible, especially in a motion and ball movement system that might present more opportunities for third option types like Anunoby. O.G.’s lack of assists stem less from his ability to see the floor, and more from the fact that when he does attack one-on-one his handle isn’t quite good enough to easily beat players. That leads to Anunoby needing to use power moves that require a sort of “all-in” commitment to get to the basket.

Still, while a ‘ball-in-the-hands’ leap is possible, Anunoby will still be behind Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes in the pecking order, and you could make an argument that Gary Trent Jr. and Dennis Schoreder will also start significantly more plays than O.G. as well.

Basically, while this isn’t necessarily Anunoby’s peak, it’s likely close enough. That’s fine, Toronto fans still get to enjoy watching an All-Defense level wing – one of the four or five best players in the NBA at his role (and for my money, there may not be a better Nikola Jokic defender in the league).

As previously discussed, Anunoby has a player option for next season that he will almost certainly decline. Anunoby is going to command a truck-load in free agency – especially with the cap projecting to rise. Toronto, as you may have heard, has other major players to figure out contract-wise, and potentially a limited appetite to go into the luxury tax for a team that is not a championship threat.

That makes Anunboy’s future in Toronto likely dependent on one of a few things:

1. This Raptors team gels in a way nobody saw coming so that Team President, Masai Ujiri and General Manager, Bobby Webster can convince MLSE to pony up and keep the band together.
2. Pascal Siakam is moved in a deal that largely contains future assets, and Anunoby is seen as a piece with the same timeline as Scottie Barnes giving Toronto the desire to outbid other suitors in free agency.
3. The Raptors decide to extend Siakam – if only to ‘keep the asset’ – making a new deal for Anunoby too rich, and so Ujiri and Webster move him for a package of future assets that keeps Toronto under the luxury tax, and keeps their war-chest loaded to hunt for another star.
4. The Raptors fall flat on their face and the decision is made to blow it up, throwing everything out the window but Barnes and Gradey Dick.

Raptors Receive Little Recognition in Latest GM Survey – Sports Illustrated

Scotiabank Arena is no longer considered the NBA’s best home-court advantage, NBA general managers say.

The annual NBA GM Survey is out courtesy of John Schuhmann, and it’s seen Scotiabank Arena fall from No. 1 last season with 21% of the votes, to No. 5, with just 7% of the votes for best home-court advantage.

The Toronto Raptors don’t appear very often in the survey this season. O.G. Anunoby is shockingly absent from any defensive award conversations. It appears as though he didn’t even receive a vote as one of the league’s top perimeter defenders, nor for defensive versatility, two skills he prides himself on.

Veteran guard Garrett Temple is considered the second most likely player to become a head coach one day, receiving 13% of the votes. Only Chris Paul received more votes.

Dennis Schröder received recognition from at least one voter as one of the most underrated acquisitions of the offseason, an honor that went to the Memphis Grizzlies for adding Marcus Smart.

Toronto Raptors’ first-ever head coach Brendan Malone dead at 81 | Toronto Sun

“Coach Brendan Malone was a great man who left behind a great legacy in the world of basketball, but he will be remembered even more for the amazing husband, father, son and grandfather that he was and the profound impact he had on the friends, family and colleagues who were lucky enough to know him,” the Nuggets said in a statement.

“Our thoughts are with the entire Malone family and all of Brendan’s loved ones who are feeling this loss today.”

Malone, the father of current Nuggets head coach Mike Malone, led the Raptors in their inaugural season in 1995-96. Denver announced Mike Malone would not be with the team for its pre-season game Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns following the news.

Toronto finished 21-61 that season, which included a memorable win over the eventual champion Chicago Bulls, who finished with a league-leading 72-10 record. That stood as the best regular-season record in NBA history until the Golden State Warriors went 73-9 in 2015-16.

The Raptors were Malone’s first head coaching job in the NBA, having previously been an assistant with the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons.