1. Perimeter defense
Success in the modern NBA is so often tied to the 3-point line that oftentimes whichever team is more efficient from beyond the arc will end up as the winner. In an attempt to stop opposing teams from reigning down a barrage of 3-pointers, Toronto built one of the more adaptable lineups in the game.
In addition to the Barnes pick, Anunoby could be in for an All-Defensive Team type of season, as his ability to lock centers down with his strength and shut down guards with his nimbleness near the 3-point line is astonishing. If you can’t defend multiple positions, you’re of no value to Masai Ujiri.
The Toronto Raptors will be much improved on defense.
Barnes, Banton, and Johnson were all good defenders in college, Achiuwa looks like the perfect small-ball center for this style of play, VanVleet is one of the best defensive point guards in the game, and Siakam’s skill as a defensive player gets underrated consistently.
If Birch provides the same rim protection that he showed off last year, and if Trent takes the step forward he needs to make on the defensive end to justify his pricy contract, Toronto might be one of the better defensive teams in the East. Time will tell if Ujiri’s vision leads to wins.