Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors are 3-3 to start the 2022-23 season, which isn’t bad by any means, given the demanding schedule the Raptors have had to plow through. The Cavaliers, 76ers, and Heat have all fallen to a Raptors team that still has some significant issues.
Toronto was taken apart by Philadelphia in a game that saw Tyrese Maxey torch Fred VanVleet for 44 points. Toronto saw their bench completely shrivel up in this loss, while starters like VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. picked a very inopportune time for their worst games of the season.
The Raptors have largely been exactly what we thought they would be to start the season. They are an annoying opponent that plays great defense, yet struggles to consistently pull away due to a lack of proven offensive talent on the roster. Same as it ever was, if you’ll allow me to quote David Byrne.
The Raptors have put some concerning trends on display, some of which will remain throughout the entire season and some of which will melt away into nothing as the year progresses. Which trends are for real, and which trends are nothing to get too worked up about?
Buy or Sell on 3 Toronto Raptors trends.
3. The bench is still a huge problem
Not being able to welcome Otto Porter Jr. into the lineup has certainly made it challenging for Toronto to get their second unit operating at peak efficiency. Still, Porter is simply not the type of player who should destabilize an entire bench with his absence. Toronto’s second unit was horrendous against Philly.
11 players got minutes in the first half of Friday’s game, but only four scored points. Precious Achiuwa’s 22-rebound game against the Heat didn’t translate into many more impressive performances, while Chris Boucher and Christian Koloko didn’t provide much on offense.
The Toronto Raptors lack quality bench play.
With Porter out for a while due to personal issues, the cavalry isn’t going to come for a while. The players on this bench need to get themselves sorted out, as even playing at a league-average level would be a game-changer. Unfortunately, the start to the season looks poised to continue.
The Achiuwa domination of Miami and Boucher’s generally solid offensive play since his return from injury shows that this issue is more related to the wild volatility this bench has rather than a lack of talent. Solving that issue in the span of just a few games, however, is unlikely.