What has made the Toronto Raptors’ recent nosedive in the standings is the fact that Nick Nurse has the starting lineup playing well following the acquisition of Jakob Poeltl. While that group is dominating, the same can’t be said of Toronto’s already maligned bench.
Gary Trent Jr. has been completely emasculated since going back to the second unit, as his scoring punch has been marginalized. Precious Achiuwa has been given a golden opportunity to cement himself as a stud, but he has fallen off. Will Barton hasn’t provided a seismic change.
Nurse is of the mindset that his starters are so good that anything even approaching baseline competency from his second unit with be enough to turn the tide. His latest quote lowers the threshold for success in a pretty embarrassing way.
“If they are average, that’s probably good enough. If they are a little bit below, that’s still probably good enough,” Nurse said, via the Toronto Star. “They just can’t be so far below average where all the hard work we did for 12 minutes, 15 minutes, 22 minutes, 28 minutes just disappears in three.”
Let me get this straight. After weeks and weeks of trying to get the Raptors to muster any sort of effort and resistance on that side of the ball, Nurse’s latest comments amount to telling them “just be slightly above terrible, and we’ll get you minutes.” What a motivator!
Nick Nurse had a depressing quote about the Toronto Raptors bench.
Part of the frustration that Nurse and Raptors fans share is the fact that this issue does not seem solvable in the short term. With no true backup point guard or center on the roster (as long as Christian Koloko wastes away in Mississauga), out of position players have to scramble to fill the void.
The Raptors have some talented starting pieces that could help them make a deep playoff run, but their lack of bench depth has been a critical issue for two seasons. They may have expected Otto Porter Jr. and Malachi Flynn to help them out, but neither of them answered the bell due to injuries or regression.
The Poeltl trade has proven to be a game-changer that has made the Raptors a much-better team when he is in the lineup, but he can’t play 48 minutes. Achiuwa getting back on track could be quite the lifeline, but apparently all Nurse is requiring from his players is mediocrity.