Darko Rajakovic, Scottie Barnes, and the Toronto Raptors managed to turn down the panic alarm a few notes, responding to a horrible home loss to the lowly Portland Trail Blazers with a 130-111 thumping of Damian Lillard and the much-heralded Milwaukee Bucks.
Even if this win may not wholly reverse Toronto’s fortunes, the fact they were able to stomp such a quality opponent shows that Rajakovic’s offensive improvements can stifle even an opponent as skilled as Milwaukee. Toronto looked dynamic and creative for the first time this season.
While the idea of blowing up the roster in the name of making a trade has always been percolating around this fanbase, a few more strong games might make it more challenging for Masai Ujiri to commit to that. The glimmers of hope they showed made Toronto look like a quality two-way team.
As the Raptors move forward in Rajakovic’s debut season, the truth about this roster is starting to emerge. Following the demolition of Milwaukee, the Raptors need to accept these truths about their roster and lean into it as the tough schedule they were dealt stiffens up.
3 hard truths the 2023 Toronto Raptors must accept
3. Otto Porter Jr. must play over Jalen McDaniels
Any hype Raptors fans and this coaching staff had about McDaniels, who established himself as a promising two-way wing with the Hornets and 76ers, has all but evaporated. McDaniels didn’t score in any of his first four games with Toronto, and he received a DNP in the Bucks game.
Porter, who has a history of being a reliable 3-point shooter when healthy, made his debut, and he didn’t disappoint. Hitting the open 3-balls that McDaniels was missing was one thing, but with some clutch rebounds and moves that show off his veteran savvy, OPJ proved his value to this Raptors team.
The Toronto Raptors must give Otto Porter Jr. minutes.
It’s easy to forget what Porter can be at his best. In his last fully healthy season, Porter helped the Golden State Warriors take home a championship as a spot starter and key bench piece, which could be the exact role Rajakovic asks him to fill off the bench in Toronto,
While Porter was likely given minutes due to the absence of Precious Achiuwa, if he is able to replicate his play against Milwaukee, the Raptors need to keep him in the rotation. McDaniels may have had hype, but Porter may have Wally Pipp’d him just a few games into the season.