Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors are all smiles today, as a bench led by Christian Koloko and Jeff Dowtin helped the squad erase a 19-point deficit and pull out an overtime preseason win against the Boston Celtics. That doesn’t mean that this victory came without warning signs.
For the last few seasons, the two most significant issues that have plagued this team are a substandard bench unit and the lack of excellent 3-point shooting. VanVleet is one of a handful of players who are above average from deep, but he is not going to carry this unit by himself.
To that end, the Raptors chose to sign Otto Porter Jr. away from the Golden State Warriors with the expectation that he could come in and help fill a hole. With Porter having yet to make his Raptors debut due to injuries, Toronto saw their rotation put up a clunker against Boston.
The nine players projected to start the season in the rotation, should Porter miss time, went a nasty 3-23 from 3-point range. VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Gary Trent Jr. are projected to be the team’s most effective shooters, but they combined to go just 2-12 from deep. Is this going to extend into the regular season?
Should the Toronto Raptors worry about their shooting?
Even though Porter might not be the most high-volume scorer, the fact that his efficiency has remained despite his injuries is one of the reasons Toronto went after him so aggressively. Making two or three extra 3-pointers per game could be the difference between a win and a loss.
Despite all of the non-guaranteed players fighting for a roster spot, don’t you think it’s a little strange that Juancho Hernangomez signed a guaranteed contract? Perhaps his ability to shoot above all else played a role in helping him secure that deal?
As for the stars who struggled, this is likely a case of shaking off the rust rather than a sign that their ability to score from deep is fading away. While their slumps all played a part in the Raptors getting in this hole, this team is way too talented to go down by 20 points regularly and get bailed out by the bench.
The Raptors shouldn’t throw their hands in the air and scream bloody murder over their inability to hit shots from deep on a consistent basis, but they should start getting alarmed if the trend bleeds into the regular season. Porter can only do so much to save them.