Should the Raptors consider making a change to the starting lineup?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 20: Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 20: Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Due to some poor injury luck, the Toronto Raptors have rarely had all five of their best players healthy this season. raptors fans have to be frustrated that they haven’t seen a starting lineup featuring Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, and OG Anunoby alongside Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. more often.

The Raptors are 13-3 when they have all of their starters healthy, though it hasn’t been all smooth sailing with this bunch. Despite playing a Boston Celtics team that was arguably their four best individual players, the Raptors found themselves in a double-digit hole in the first quarter before eventually winning.

While the starting lineup consists of their five best players, it can often be tough to make sure that shots are equally distributed. Likewise, the lack of scoring talent off the bench has forced Nick Nurse to lean on those starters for an inordinate amount of minutes.

While the Raptors have won consistently when all five of their best players have been healthy, some advanced stats show that the combination of those elite five in the starting lineup hasn’t always procured the best results. Could there be some minor tweaks in order?

Could the Toronto Raptors look to switch their starting lineup?

Per Cleaning the Glass (subscription required), Toronto’s normal starting five are in just the 38th percentile in points per 100 possessions. When combined with their 53rd percentile defensive performance, the Raptors are actually getting outscored when that unit is on the floor.

One change that might make sense involved putting Trent on the bench in favor of Thad Young. With Toronto’s bench still so thin at the moment that Nurse was forced to lean on just two guards during their win against Boston, moving Trent to the bench allows him to get up as many shots as possible.

The Raptors have seldom used a lineup that features Young alongside the other four starters, as that grouping has just 10 possessions to its’ name all season long. However, considering that the Raptors are a 90th percentile defense with Barnes, Siakam, and Young on the floor at the same time, this look might be worth exploring.

Toronto might need to experiment with some Trent on the bench lineups when a postseason spot is clinched. Nurse should have enough coaching skills to stagger the responsibilities and make sure Trent is still on the floor for 30+ minutes per game. This one little tweak could pay dividends in the playoffs.

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