What is the best way the Toronto Raptors could have countered all the “selfish” play that Masai Ujiri saw during their ill-fated 2022-23 season? Well, hiring a brand-new head coach with some very inventive offensive ideas in Darko Rajakovic is certainly a start.
Rajakovic mentioned that Toronto’s “0.5 offense” will be a hallmark of how they plan to attack teams in the 2023-24 season, using ball movement, quick decision-making, and pace to disorient opposing defenses. If the preseason is any indication of what this team will look like, fans have to be excited.
Despite going into this game without a true center thanks to Jakob Poeltl’s illness and Precious Achiuwa’s nagging groin strain, Toronto still managed to lead Australia’s Cairns Taipans 38-17 at the end of the first quarter and 71-44 at halftime. Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes both had their way early on.
Siakam finished the first half with 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a performance that may have helped him pick up a triple-double if he played a regular season-level minutes workload. The revamped Barnes ended up with 14 points, five rebounds, and an assist to go along with a steal and block.
Toronto Raptors Pascal Siakam thriving in Darko Rajakovic’s offense vs. Taipans.
The biggest change from last year’s Raptors to this season is the frequency with which they are taking and making 3-pointers. Toronto nailed seven of their 14 first-quarter triples, many of which were wide open. The Taipans can’t compete with Toronto’s athleticism.
Dennis Schroder looked every bit like the dynamic creator he was with Germany in the FIBA World Cup, OG Anunoby was confident shooting from 3-point range, and Chris Boucher was gobbling up rebounds. Even Malachi Flynn, who struggled against Sacramento, got in on the scoring fun.
While the quality of the opponent might make it difficult to get a read on how some of the individual performances will look against top-tier NBA defenders, this game was yet another piece of evidence that shows Rajakovic can be a very clever offensive mind Toronto scooped up under everyone’s nose.