Darko Rajakovic has a very difficult task on his plate right now, as he needs to figure out a way to take a roster that is not currently equipped to become a high-flying attack and somehow get them back up in the ranks of the NBA's elite after Nick Nurse failed to accomplish this feat.
Rajakovic has tried his best to get Toronto to share the ball and play with pace, and the early returns have the Raptors ranking in the top five in the league in assists per game. However, Toronto's halfcourt offense remains quite poor, often buoyed by the fact Toronto has played some lackluster defenses.
Toronto's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, which was aided by some very painful missed free throws and Tristan Thompson turning back the clock, showed that Rajakovic's current offensive plans need some serious adjusting if the Raptors are going to end up breaking through eventually.
Rajakovic doesn't need to completely throw the baby out with the bath water, but he does need to realize that what he is trying to execute isn't vibing with the rest of this roster. These three changes might be enough to spark the team and get them back on track.
3 rotation fixes Toronto Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic must make.
3. No more Gary Trent Jr. in closing lineups
I get the temptation. Between Jakob Poeltl's lack of shooting, Trent's (alleged) abundance of it, and Scottie Barnes' solid play as a small-ball center in some funky lineups, putting GTJ out there makes sense. Unfortunately for Trent, he hasn't been doing enough to warrant the extra minutes.
While the Raptors did pull off a wild win against the Pacers, Trent missed two free throws with just seconds left, leaving Buddy Hield with a chance to win the game at the buzzer. After stepping out of bounds on Toronto's final possession in the Cleveland loss, Trent's late-game stumbles continued.
Gary Trent Jr. can't close games for the Toronto Raptors.
Trent is shooting just 39% from the field and 37% from 3-point range in a contract year. Trent might have been designated as the unofficial Sixth Man, but he hasn't quite taken to that role through 17 games. He could eventually work his way back into that role, but he also needs a bit of a breather.
Trent has always been a somewhat scattershot, streaky player who can go white hot or ice cold in a minute, but his lows can be quite difficult to stomach. The Indiana and Cleveland games showed what happens when Trent's cold spell is thrown into a crucial late-game situation.