Fan Duel Toronto Raptors

Bet on Development

Bet on yourself, bet on development.

There’s six games left until the February 8th trade deadline, and this squad could look a lot different when they return to Scotiabank Arena on Saturday, February 9th to play Steady Freddy & his Houston Rockets.

But one thing remains certain: Darko is focused on development (or retooling, call it what you will) and that means the process will matter more than wins and losses. This doesn’t necessarily mean tanking, but it means they could really suck even if they don’t intend on sucking.

Defensively, Raptors may play more man-to-man defence until they are set with a squad and system for the rest of the season. Offensively, development will mean sticking to principles – e.g. 0.5 seconds as a guiding principle – and ensuring the ball doesn’t stick. How the half-court offence adjusts without Siakam remains to be seen.

With the exception of Scottie Barnes, nobody on this roster remains untouchable – some are more likely to be traded than others, but so as things stand, this team is in flux.

How will Scottie respond?

To start with the centrepiece – the only sure thing – Scottie’s scoring has been inconsistent. Throughout his last three games, he scored 23 last night against the Clippers, 22 against Memphis, and only nine against New York.

His body language, his sulking, is concerning at times, and he’s settled with jump shots when he should be attacking more. 

“Scottie Barnes mostly settled for pull-up jumpers until the fourth quarter. He eventually found his way into driving lanes, but he did little for three quarters to set a foot inside the paint. And on the defensive end, he jumped and swung for a lot of volleyball blocks, but missed them all. That meant a lot of layups. That’s what retool means.”

-Scottie’s performance versus the Clippers via Louis Zatzman

In Wednesday’s media scrum at practice, I asked him if there’s any advantages to being on the road before the deadline, but he kind of gave a ‘How the hell am I supposed to know? I don’t know. I just wanna hoop’ type of response. He’s entering unchartered territory – being left to be the face of the franchise without the best pieces around him. His will to win will be tested, especially when the expectation to do so will is the lowest its been since he’s been a Raptor. In his rookie year, the Raptors were a first-round exit playoff team, and even when things went south with Nick Nurse last season, the team’s expectation was not player development to win for the future.

Poeltl’s return may change things. But currently, the Raptors are in the valley of death, and how fast or slow they go will depend the front office. Of course, winning could expedite the Raptors into a win-sooner-than-later team.

“Barnes can, of course, help motivate decisions by stepping into All-NBA status and leading a team to immediate success. Players of that quality ask for help from their FO’s all the time – typically in the trade market. But, the pace at which the Raptors go? That’ll be up to Masai Ujiri & Bobby Webster as they try to find their second wind as major decision makers for Toronto. It’ll be very interesting to see.”

-via Samson Folk

Though Scottie’s scoring has been inconsistent, bet on him to score 15+ points against Atlanta, Chicago, and Houston on FanDuel.

Barrett’s continued development 

As per my column last week, Barrett scored 15+ points through the last three games (20 against the Knicks (1-3 3FG), 29 against Memphis (0-2 3FG), 22 against LAC (0-2 3FG)).

Ujiri mentioned in his presser that acquiring Barrett was deliberate, and if the once-toxic-asset turned-toxic-for-defences 23-year-old wing is likely a part of the future, he’ll be encouraged to keep shooting 3s.

RJ’s cuts in the half-court offence continue to crucial, especially in delay actions that play to his strengths: getting downhill (the second play). He plays analytic-friendly basketball, and whenever he finds a chance to attack the rim, he does. In the past five games, he’s only hit one short mid-range jumper, and the rest of his shot diet has consisted of paint twos or 3s.

He’s only shot 3-for-16 from downtown in the past five games, and in the last three games, all of his 3s were came in half-court sets.

Betting on Barrett to make 1+ 3s per game against Atlanta, Chicago, and Houston may seem a bit of a stretch, but with Poeltl scheduled to return soon, RJ could be attempting more threes, rather than just scoring inside. As a Raptor, he’s has only had four games, including yesterday’s, where he hasn’t scored a 3.

Immanuel Quickley assists, but expect him more to get his  

There’s been chatter about getting IQ to play less selflessly, but as the Raptors continue to develop their half-court offence, bet on IQ to consistently log 6+ assists (6.1 APG as a Raptor) throughout the next three games.

He sat out last night due to a right thigh bruise (he’s day-to-day), but he had eight dimes against Memphis and 12 against his former team. 

Make the MoneyLine Bet on the Raptors to beat the Rockets

Assuming no trades will be made by then, the Rockets may appear more talented on paper. However, who doesn’t BBBQ and a recovered Poeltl to beat Sengun, Fred VanVleet, and Dillon Brooks in H-Town. Even if the odds are against us, that’s too enticing of a bet not to make.