The Toronto Raptors have hammered home how they want to build rosters from a fundamental point this offseason, as the continued reliance on players like OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam proves. Drafting a switchblade like Scottie Barnes with the No. 4 overall pick further encapsulates that point.
In an era of pace and space reigning supreme, the Raptors seem to be leaning on length and versatility, banking on the idea that five defensive standouts who can guard multiple positions will be the best way to counter a league full of high-octane offenses and tons of 3-pointers.
The Raptors have an astounding 11 players on their roster right now that are 6-7 or taller (assuming that Isaac Bonga and Sam Dekker are counted), yet not one over 6-9. The Raptors are eschewing traditional height and position archetypes in favor of a lineup that can adapt to whatever the opponent throws at them.
Toronto’s roster construction is so unique across the league that they may actually be able to uncork a lineup that features players exclusively at 6-7 or over at times. This lineup is more than a novelty, as it could be used to get some key defensive stops in the middle of games.
This Toronto Raptors lineup features 5 players between 6-7 and 6-9
PG: Scottie Barnes
SG: Yuta Watanabe
SF: OG Anunoby
PF: Pascal Siakam
C: Precious Achiuwa
Barnes might be listed as a small forward, but he was the primary ball-handler for Florida State in college, and the Raptors will likely give him every opportunity to make plays with the ball in his hands. Lining up at point guard only helps Toronto get more of their quality forwards on the floor at the same time.
While Siakam and Khem Birch will likely share the floor as starters, the combination of Siakam and Precious Achiuwa could be lethal. If Achiuwa starts to develop his shooting and round out his offensive game, he could be the X-factor for this formation on that end of the floor.
This would also give Anunoby a chance to really start cooking without being the third or fourth scoring option like he is with the starting unit. What better way to show off your offensive improvement than by getting a heavy volume of shots in this unit?
The Raptors shouldn’t deploy this lineup for too long of a stretch, as they need the shot creation and scoring of Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. to separate, but Toronto will undoubtedly experiment with this combination at some point during the season.
Given the mismatch potential it has against smaller lineups, the results could be very promising.