Will Raptors’ starting lineup changes remain permanent moves?

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 16: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors talks with head coach Nick Nurse (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 16: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors talks with head coach Nick Nurse (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors may have welcomed Scottie Barnes and Gary Trent Jr. back into the fold in their dominant Pascal Siakam-led win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they didn’t return to their old roles. Nick Nurse made some truly shocking moves that could alter the starting lineup for good.

Both Barnes and Trent came off the bench against Cleveland, with Juancho Hernangomez playing one of the forward spots and Thad Young staying in the lineup as the center. Nurse said the main justification was trying to avoid putting multiple players who had just returned from injury on the floor together for heavy minutes.

The move seemed to work like a charm. Barnes recorded 11 points, four rebounds, five assists, and three blocks in 27 minutes. Trent put up 14 points on 4-9 shooting and seven rebounds. With a 100-88 win over a very good Cleveland team, it’s hard to complain too much.

Barnes, however, didn’t seem thrilled about the arrangement. Some of his postgame quotes made it seem like he was a bit ticked off by this move. Will Nurse end up keeping one, both, or none of the Trent-Barnes duo on the bench moving forward?

Will the Toronto Raptors bench Gary Trent Jr. and Scottie Barnes?

The Barnes move is likely temporary. Scottie has come off the bench in the postseason before, but that was also in his first game back from an injury. At full strength, Barnes will likely be back in his old spot and on his usual minute diet. The Trent question, however, is worth asking.

Trent looked both lively and efficient in this new role, recording a season-high seven rebounds while showing improved defensive effort. He made multiple 3-pointers in a game for the first time in weeks, showing that he is starting to put his struggles from deep behind him.

One of the few interesting finds from Toronto’s brief stint without Siakam was Young moving into the starting five and excelling as a do-it-all connector. Moving Trent to the bench would give him more opportunities to be a primary offensive generator while letting Young do his thing with the starters.

This move was certainly shocking for a Raptors team that had gotten used to a relatively unchanged starting five for over a year, but it’s hard to argue with some of the results. Keeping Trent on the bench might be the spark this lineup needs that can carry them to success in 2023 and beyond.

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