2. Pinpointing reliable shooters.
While the interior defense is important, you simply can’t win a game without scoring, and the Raptors bench will have to figure out how best to accomplish that.
Monday’s game was a nice showcase of what the younger players are capable of when they get open looks. Barnes wasn’t afraid to be aggressive in his shot-taking, and Champagnie and Yuta Watanabe were surprisingly calm and collected while putting up a combined 27 points.
However, Barnes isn’t known for his consistency on the offensive end at this point, and Champagnie isn’t going to see the court much come the regular season (or will he?).
The curse of the preseason is that while these end-of-rotation guys can look good, it may not translate to similar production against constant NBA-level defense. But, with injuries piling up early, the young players will have an opportunity to shine, with one primed to take a step forward.
Toronto Raptors backups like Precious Achiuwa could shine on offense.
Achiuwa displayed a beautiful arsenal of jump shots on Monday night that could be the key to opening up the floor for the Raptors bench going forward. His ability to dribble his way into a pull-up two or set a pick for a stepback pick-and-pop 3 gives the Raptors options in how they run utilize their energy.
Precious’ athleticism will force defenders to crash to the net in transition situations. If Achiuwa is able to consistently space himself out properly in those scenarios, it can lead to either open mid-range jumpers for him or driving lanes for ball handlers coming down the floor.
Now, this is all predicated on Achiuwa and Barnes being able to even semi-consistently knock these shots down, but if they are able to find their groove, it’ll be a boon for everyone on the court.
If Achiuwa can learn to properly mix his athletic dunking ability with his developing jump shot, he can develop as a different version of Boucher, one who’s more athletic but less ball-handling inclined. But to find that sweet spot, the Raps will need someone who can control the court and direct a squad lacking serious NBA experience.