Fan Duel Toronto Raptors

RJ Barrett is now the player most helped by context with the Raptors

RJ Barrett has been a fantastic Raptor. And like those before him, he has been helped by context.

Once upon a time, Gary Trent jr. was the only Raptor who performed one vital job on the court. That helped him immensely:

Most of all, there is nothing like Trent in Toronto. He is unique — the only guard scorer on the roster. When he touches the ball, he is asked simply to score. And he does — namely by keeping turnovers incredibly low, hitting 38.3 percent 3-point shooter, and being an above-average pullup shooter, especially from deep, All told, he is the points-per-touch king on the Raptors. But so much of that is not just about him, but about his comparison to the other players on the roster.

Now the Raptors have addressed that issue. (Kind of.) Immanuel Quickley has been drilling his triples off the catch for Toronto. Even though he's struggled as a point guard at times for the Raptors, when he lets his legs do the work and transitions into a cutting off-ball guard, he has excelled. Gradey Dick has been on the come up recently in a big way. Even though Kelly Olynyk hasn't hit his triples yet in Toronto, he's a proven floor-spacer. Jordan Nwora and Ochai Agbaji are less proven but still threatening.

And Trent's on-off numbers have predictably sunk slightly since the Raptors added other shooters. He still has a positive offensive on/off rating since Jan. 1, at plus 2.8. He's a very good shooter, and he's been on a hot streak! But it was plus-4.4 before the Raptors traded away OG Anunoby. Context matters, and it has no longer been as beneficial to Trent.

On the other hand, context has shifted to greatly benefit RJ Barrett instead.

In trading away Pascal Siakam and Anunoby, the Raptors added lots of shooting, but they lost some of the most valuable finishers on the team. Anunoby never became a great self-creator in driving to the rim, but he was a terrific finisher when his shots were created by others. He has shot at or above 70 percent at the rim virtually every season of his career. And Siakam was the team's most efficient and highest-volume driver.

With them gone, Barrett has been virtually the only Raptor picking up the driving slack outside of Scottie Barnes. Barnes is the alpha and omega of the team, of course, but someone has to do something with the ball once he gives it up. That job has frequently fallen to Barrett.