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
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Subtle move: Pair Gradey Dick and RJ Barrett in the frontcourt

Holding out the veterans and playing the youngsters are a couple of obvious moves, but going under the hood there are certain lineups and player pairings that can help to maximize the tank. Additionally, pairing a couple of players together who are going to be on the team long-term provides more information on what isn't working and potentially opens the door to increased chemistry and a better long-term pairing.

For now, however, the subtle lineup path to losing basketball games is to play RJ Barrett at the 4 and Gradey Dick at the 3. On the surface, neither decision is obviously debillitating; Barrett is undersized for power forward, true, but the Raptors have found success playing him alongside Jakob Poeltl or Jontay Porter. Essentially, put a real rim protector behind him, and he can survive well enough on defense while juicing the offense.

The theory is similar with Gradey Dick. At 6'6" he is viable, although not ideal, at small forward. His high-volume sharpshooting at the 3 opens up the Raptors to play another offense-first player at shooting guard and get more playmaking on the court.

Playing both together, however, means the Raptors lack a high-end defensive option for opposing forwards, on top of the fact that Toronto doesn't have Poeltl available to try and help the team survive those minutes. Kelly Olynyk trying to man the back line behind them is a defensive disaster.

In 208 possessions where Gradey Dick is listed at the 3 and RJ Barret at the 4, per Cleaning the Glass, the Raptors are -15.8 points per 100 possessions worse than their opponents. Specifically with Kelly Olynyk at center they are being outscored by 23.4 points per 100 possessions, which is in the first percentile leaguewide; it's nearly impossible to be worse.

The Toronto Raptors have a real shot at slipping into the sixth-worst record and positioning themselves to keep their first-round pick. Either way, they won't know until the Draft Lottery in May, but the last month of the season gives them a shot at improving their odds, and this is how they do it.

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