Will the Toronto Raptors have a spacing problem next season?

Toronto Raptors (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors added a plethora of individual talent to the roster this off-season, but a familiar trend has evolved. Not many of them can shoot.

Last season, beyond winning their first-ever championship, was a special season for the Toronto Raptors. Everything just seemed to click down the stretch. Even when it didn’t, the Raptors were bailed out by the quality and desire of their players.

A lot of that came down to the quality of their shooting from deep. During the regular season, the Raptors were one of the premier three-point shooting teams in the league, averaging 36-percent from deep throughout the season.

That was courtesy of two players who have both now departed from the team. Danny Green shot a career-high 46-percent from deep on 5.4 attempts per game in the 2018-19 NBA season, best on the team and second-best across the whole league – trailing only Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets.

While not shooting to the same unfathomable levels of Green, Kawhi Leonard was still able to provide the dagger from deep on multiple occasions, shooting 37-percent from three on five attempts per game. His shooting, unlike Green’s, didn’t waiver in the postseason, and Leonard produced on 38-percent of his threes on six attempts per game, including the oft-forgotten about dagger over Joel Embiid in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

Without out Leonard and Green, the Raptors three-point shooting takes a noticeable dip. Outside of Kyle Lowry — whose shot can fluctuate like Canadian weather –, Fred VanVleet and the newly acquired Matt Thomas, the Raptors roster is a hodgepodge collection of players with flashes of three-point potential and others whose shot just may never fall.

The league has taken on a new form of efficiency. Teams want to shoot as many three-pointers as possible nowadays. After all, it’s the third most efficiently valuable shot after a lay-up and a free throw. Living and dying by the three isn’t a safe option, but having it in your locker, readily available, is such a commodity that teams look for.

Other than the recent signing of Matt Thomas, the Raptors offseason pick-ups have struggled to present a solution for what could be a below-average three-point shooting team. Stanley Johnson is a sub-par 28-percent shooter from three during his career, taking just under three attempts a game.

To make matters worse, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is an 18-percent shooter from three throughout his career. Though, shooter would be an overstatement at this point. Hollis-Jefferson has never averaged more than one three-pointer per game during his career. That might need to change in a new system, but that remains to be seen.

Both Hollis-Jefferson and Johnson are interesting pick-ups in their own right, but neither inspires confidence in the shooting department. The rest of the roster has shown flashes, but a lot remains to be seen.

Norman Powell has been a streaky shooter throughout his career but hit on 40-percent of his threes this past season. Powell looked more confident when pulling up from deep, and that could be huge, though consistency has always been his issue since coming into the league.

There are questions marks surrounding the legitimacy of the issue at hand, all of these players, plus the likes of OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam could all head into the season with a renewed confidence and ready to knock down from deep.

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Siakam and Anunoby are both set for big years for entirely different reasons. Siakam is coming off of winning the Most Improved Player award while Anunoby is likely to start at small forward, a spot now open due to Kawhi Leonard’s departure. Both have ways to go before coming consistent shooters but that can change.

Until all of these things click, the Raptors might struggle to hit consistently from three.