Raptors playing like best team in the league with Jakob Poeltl

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 23: Jakob Poeltl #19 and Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 23: Jakob Poeltl #19 and Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

All of the Twitter GMs who were skeptical about how Jakob Poeltl would fit with the Toronto Raptors in his second stint with the team have gone silent after the last few games. Poeltl was brought in to be a defensive stopper, but his performance on the offensive end has won him some nonstop praise.

Toronto has won all three games in which Poeltl has started, and the Austrian big himself has had his best two-game stretch in his professional career. Just one game after a 30-point, nine-rebound, six-block effort with efficiency that was equaled only by David Robinson and Klay Thompson, Poeltl led Toronto to a win against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Poeltl recorded 21 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, helping Toronto pull out a 115-110 victory in the process. The impact that Poeltl has on this team is palpable, but some of the advanced numbers make him look like a Greek mythic hero.

When Poeltl has been on the floor, Toronto’s 103.0 defensive rating is much better than the 109.5 the league-leading Cavaliers are exhibiting. On the offensive end, the Raptors have a 118.9 offensive rating that exceeds what the Nuggets are producing at an NBA-best 117.7 mark. Even Masai Ujiri didn’t expect numbers like that.


Jakob Poeltl is dominating with the Toronto Raptors.

Poeltl’s numbers look like something out of NBA 2K with all of the sliders turned to 100 on rookie mode. He is making an absurd 83% of his shots with the Raptors, all while averaging 15.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Poeltl is also averaging 1.5 steals and 2.5 blocks per contest.

The main reason Raptors fans didn’t love the trade (apart from the protections on the first-round pick attached to San Antonio) was the lack of shooting he provided to a team that is still in need of more snipers. However, Poeltl’s offensive skills have provided a noticeable bump whenever he is on the floor.

Poeltl is not only a terrific screener and surprisingly good passer for a big man, but he is a career 62% finisher from the field. That efficiency and skill at getting offensive rebounds have helped Toronto come away with two points on possessions where the pre-Poeltl Raptors would have bricked a shot and come away with nothing.

Poeltl is going to be a free agent at the end of this season, but this opening stretch has shown just how valuable he can be as a two-way presence for this club. He’s earned himself an even more expensive payday after turning the raptors from a rudderless ship into a playoff contender.

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