Raptors coach Dwane Casey shifts his attention to offense

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 7: Rapper, Drake greets DeMar DeRozan
TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 7: Rapper, Drake greets DeMar DeRozan /

The Raptors aren’t going to win anything unless their offense get ratcheted up. That means better perimeter shooting, which won’t be easy to create.

The title of this post is more a hope than a belief.

The Toronto Raptors have declared their intentions of moving away from the isolation-heavy offensive sets of their past few seasons. The goal is to create a more free-flowing offense, one in which the ball does more work by quick passes around the perimeter.

DeMar DeRozan has turned himself into an All-Star, and grown very rich, through taking advantage of his consistent ability to score 2-point baskets against almost any defender. But…

The NBA has become a shooter’s league. The number of 3-ball attempts and makes has never been higher. The Rockets, Cavaliers, Celtics and Warriors were the top makers of long balls in the regular season. All four enjoyed success then, and in the playoffs.

OAKLAND, CA – DECEMBER 28: Kyle Lowry /

The Raptors were also-rans, finishing 19th in makes. So how does our team get off the treadmill of being unceremoniously bounced in the playoffs?

I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of doing something because everyone else is. What happened to thinking for yourself, to carving out an identity distinct from the pack? Besides, the Raptors can’t become a long-ball shooting team without long-ball shooters (gosh, thanks Brian – where would we be without you?).

What I mean is all the good intentions in the world won’t turn DeRozan into Klay Thompson (let alone Steph Curry), nor Jonas Valanciunas into Channing Frye.

Better play-making a necessity

Even with the acquisition of C.J. Miles, the Raptors won’t be raining 3-balls next season to the same extent as the leaders. Dwane Casey will still be preaching DEFENSE, though perhaps not to the same degree as in his early Pound-The-Rock days. Yet even a conservative like Casey is plenty smart enough to know which way the wind is blowing, and that’s towards long shots.

DeRozan’s best shots from beyond the arc are from the corner, where he made 40.8% of his pitifully few attempts. That’s hardly a surprise, as corner-3s are the high-octane fuel of NBA offenses. The trick for Casey will be in devising more opportunities for DeMar. Simple ball rotation won’t be enough; drive-and-kick plays with Kyle Lowry might be a wise place to start. Pulling down offensive rebounds can often result in quality open looks, as the defense has become unstuck. However a small-ball lineup is more often a fire and fall back entity than a traditional quartet which includes 2 big men. In other words, who will pull down those boards isn’t clear.

We are reduced to speculation, as the revamped and improved(?) Raptors roster hasn’t had a minute of practice time yet. This year’s training camp and pre-season may be the most interesting in years.

More from Raptors Rapture