2 Obvious, 2 subtle moves Darko Rajakovic must make to maximize Raptors' lottery odds

Kelly Olynyk, Toronto Raptors
Kelly Olynyk, Toronto Raptors / Alika Jenner/GettyImages
2 of 5

Obvious move: Slowplay injury returns for Poeltl, Barnes

Scottie Barnes is currently out indefinitely after fracturing his hand on Immanuel Quickley's foot in a loss to the Golden State Warriors. By not placing a timetable on Barnes' return, the Raptors wisely gave themselves the flexibility to slowplay his return and, ideally for their lottery standings, keep him out for the remainder of the season.

That's not an unreasonable timetable, either. As was laid out by injury expert Jeff Stotts immediately after Barnes' injury, the average return for a player who has surgery to repair a fractured third metacarpal is 41 days, and when he suffered the injury there were only 44 days remaining in the season. It won't take much of a finger on the scale to keep him out the rest of the way.

Jakob Poeltl is also currently sidelined with a torn ligament in the pinkie of his left hand, an injury he underwent surgery for. It's hard to pinpoint a return for Poeltl, but the vagueness works in the Raptors' advantage in takign their time to bring him back as well.

Finally, this "conservative" approach works for any minor injuries that crop up. Chris Boucher's knee is bruised? Give him an extra week off just to be safe. RJ Barrett misses a game due to illness? Drink your fluids and stay in bed another couple of days RJ.

The Raptors are not going to learn much about their young core with Barnes and Poeltl sidelined anyway, so there is little for them to play for at the moment. Slowplaying injuries seems like the obvious first step; if they need a model to follow they can look at the Portland Trail Blazers from the past few seasons.