Nick Nurse’s comments on Raptors bench will frustrate fans

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 17: Head coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 17: Head coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors have built one of the strongest starting lineups in the league, but they have been suffering from a bench that is providing them next to nothing. The lack of depth has shown up on a recent road trip, as a run of poor results has helped them lose four of their last five games.

While games against title contenders like the Suns and Heat came down to the wire, both ended in Toronto losses. The Raptors went blow for blow with the Dallas Mavericks, but they fell due to some miscommunications late in this contest. Perhaps this came as a result of being tired?

With Gary Trent Jr. dealing with an ankle injury and Khem Birch suffering from a broken nose, Nurse used a seven-man rotation in the last two games, with Chris Boucher and rookie Justin Champagnie the only two reserves to see time. Names like Dalano Banton, Yuta Watanabe, and Malachi Flynn were absent.

Naturally, Nurse was getting asked about the sustainability of playing names like Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam 40 or more minutes every single night. Nurse claimed that he thinks the team is “playing great” despite their win-loss record. This might not get a ton of Raptors fans on his side.

Nurse seemed to think some of the post-game questions had a negative twist to them. This took him by surprise, as he claimed the Raptors “played their guts out” and nearly came away with a road win against one of the best teams in the league.

Nick Nurse and the Raptors have the league’s worst bench.

Nurse and the Raptors seem to be caught in between a rock and a hard place given the fact that he barely trusts anyone on this bench. On one hand, VanVleet and Siakam can’t be playing such a heavy load of minutes this early in the season if Toronto is serious about a play-in push.

On the other, none of the bench players have necessarily warranted more playing time. Banton has completely plateaued on the offensive end, Flynn has regressed, Watanabe played so poorly in his last few games he went from starting to inactive, and Svi Mykhailiuk has been a major disappointment.

Nurse obviously wants to deploy his best players as much as possible, and he wouldn’t use an eight-man rotation when everyone was healthy. However, there has to be a middle ground between that and giving up on most of your bench to the point where all but two players have been excommunicated.

Hopefully, the returns of Trent and Birch will bring normalcy to the rotation. Masai Ujiri needs to get this team some bench help, as the Raptors are clearly struggling to make something out of nothing here.

Next. 4 trade destinations for Chris Boucher. dark