Panic or Patience? 3 potentially concerning trends for the Raptors

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 09: Fred VanVleet #23 and Chris Boucher #25 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 09: Fred VanVleet #23 and Chris Boucher #25 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors, Precious Achiuwa
TORONTO, ON – JANUARY 2: Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Toronto Raptors goes up for a slam dunk against the New York Knicks (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors recently saw a six-game winning streak snapped at the hands of Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns. While Fred VanVleet kept playing at an All-Star level and Pascal Siakam had one of his best days, the team was unable to overcome such a deep, composed Suns team.

With Toronto sitting at 20-18 in a season where many viewed them as a potential lottery team due to their influx of young players, the fact that the Raptors have been able to be in the fight this long has been very impressive. However, they aren’t necessarily firing on all cylinders.

While VanVleet going nuts and Scottie Barnes making a Rookie of the Year charge has helped paper over some noteworthy cracks in this roster, Toronto is operating without a ton of bench consistency. Is the squad’s star power enough to distinguish them from the rest of the play-in contenders in the East?

The Raptors have been pulling off wins despite some concerning trends surrounding some of the more visible players on the roster. Should the Raptors be concerned about these issues? Should they continue with how they’ve been operating and hope that these recent runs of form turn around?

Should the Toronto Raptors be concerned about these 3 trends?

3. The logjam in the paint

The Raptors may not have a true starting center in a lineup that features Siakam at that spot, but they have an abundance of bigs on their bench. In addition to Chris Boucher’s blend of shot-blocking and interior finishing, Precious Achiuwa is proving his worth as a rebounder and Khem Birch is providing rock-solid defense.

The Raptors are teetering on a very fine line between a positionless, physical defense and a lineup full of non-shooters that can’t keep pace on offense. Can three players all playing the same position coexist on the bench? So far, the results have been fairly encouraging for Toronto.

How will the Toronto Raptors divvy up bench minutes?

Boucher has been exceptional as a high-energy big, Achiuwa continues to rebound and defend at a solid level, and Birch provides a traditional back-to-the-basket center. This may seem like a too many cooks situation, but none of them have been bad enough to warrant being completely taken out of the rotation.

While the Raptors could look to move Boucher, an impending free agent, before the trade deadline, Nick Nurse still seems capable of making sure all of these players get ample playing time. The bigger problems lie elsewhere on this roster.

Verdict: Patience