Healthy Raptors will need time to find a rhythm


After being short-handed while Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll were on the mends, the Toronto Raptors are back to full health and a full bench. Unfortunately, the results will need time for a positive return.

Not every player is an all star calibre player. Not every player is going to be able to give you 20 points a night with rebounds and assists on top of that. Nor is everyone going to play defence at a high level each night.

The Raptors witnessed their role players crumble on the road verses the Chicago Bulls on Monday night, where no one was able to get it going other than DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Given their efforts, they were lucky to hang around in the 4th quarter until the Bulls bench blew the game open. The Raptors looked better against the Washington Wizards but also looked very stagnant at times.

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Jonas Valanciunas has since returned the to the starting unit after missing 6 weeks with a broken fourth metacarpal in his left hand. The Raptors were lifted from the spark he provided in the first quarter, but other than that, it was fairly mediocre.

DeMarre Carroll has started 2 games now, back from injury after resting up a bum knee. He has played well defensively but is struggling with his shot selection, and his shots aren’t dropping. It was an okay game from him.

The players have looked out of sync as they are getting accustomed to the new line-ups. Cory Joseph is fighting himself on both ends of the court, while Patrick Patterson is looking like a shell of his former self. I believe it has a lot to do with picking spots in the offence, knowing when you will get the ball and being able to recognize when a shot is yours. There are countless shots being forced from the Raptor role players of all varying difficulty. It seems they were unplugged from what made them successful in previous weeks.

Dec 26, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Toronto Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll (5) defends Milwaukee Bucks guard O.J. Mayo (3) during the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

With two returning cogs in the line-up, it makes sense that there would be an adjustment period. Valanciunas is back in the starting line-up, returning any normalcy the Raptors were missing the previous weeks. That will leave clear and defined roles for Terrence Ross, Patterson, Bismack Biyombo and Joseph that they will need to readjust to. Finding a role for James Johnson would be nice too.

How long will this take? Longer than you may think. It took DeRozan more than a month to find his niche in the team, where he has exploded in December. It took over a month for Kyle Lowry to come back to Earth from his torrid shooting pace. You can bet that it will take about a month to redefine who this team is and reinstate the roles that each of the players have.

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The good news is that the Raptors peaked last year in December. This year you can believe that they will continually improve throughout the season and will be able to perform as a functional and defined team by April.