Toronto Raptors: Three unexpected surprises through 13 games

Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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It might be an understatement to say that the Toronto Raptors are having a surprising season so far.

Let’s face it. The Toronto Raptors are nowhere close to the team they were last season. They just aren’t. This comes as a big surprise for many of us who believed they were still going to be a top 5-6 team going forward; even when weighing the losses of Gasol and Ibaka.

So the biggest surprise may be that the Raptors have a 5-8 record, but that’s too easy a surprise to talk about. We know they can’t play offense and defense well simultaneously, — in December, they had the third-best defense and worst offense in the league; and in January, they have the second-best offense and third-worst defense —  they can’t close off 4th quarters, and they have only one playable center in Boucher.

Now, let’s start by surprise number one, the Raptors’ perfect pick up.

Baynes is not an important rotation player for Toronto Raptors

One point I made when I wrote about Aron Baynes being the perfect pick up for the Raptors was his three-point shooting. He shot 35 percent from three and more than proved that he was a steady below-average three-point shooter last season. What I failed to see at the time was how misleading that percentage was. Baynes’ three-point percentage was inflated due to a hot start when he shot 44 percent in the first 12 games of last season; his career 31.6 three-point percentage is much more reflective of his shooting capabilities.

Shooting the three at an acceptable rate was never going to be a distinguishing factor if Baynes was gonna get playing time or not. Baynes is a career 31.6 three-point shooter and I don’t think the Raptors were banking on that part of his game. But if he also cannot finish around the rim or find any role at all on offense, that’s when it gets tough to warrant Baynes with any minutes.

Baynes was acquired for what he can do on defense. Though he is slightly underperforming on that end, it is not too far off from what we expected — he does look a little slower. But he’s no Rudy Gobert, and it’s tough to keep him from getting real minutes if the offense is a 4v5 with him on.

No one expected him to fill the void left of Gasol and Ibaka, but we also didn’t expect him to be a complete non-factor for the team. There are still 59 games left in the season and despite the recent struggles, he is still the starting center for the Raptors. Just how many more chances will get before he goes back to the doghouse.