The Toronto Raptors have sucked all the goodwill out of the 2023-24 season, as they have now lost four straight games and still seem unable to nail down exactly what the identity of this team is. Head coach Darko Rajakovic isn't helping by refusing to admit where he is struggling.
Rajakovic has used the same starting lineup all season long when everyone is healthy. Dennis Schroder has been the point guard, OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes have been the wings, and the frontcourt duo consists of Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl. That lineup appears to be running out of steam.
Toronto's recent losses against the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks illustrated how this group is not equipped to win games. Despite the fact Gary Trent Jr. had a serious stinker in the Charlotte and New York games, the most obvious change the Raptors could make this season is to put him in the starting lineup while benching Schroder.
Rajakovic has spent the last few days defending his decision, saying that making Barnes the de facto point guard would bring another host of problems and insisting the current loadout is the best five the team can put on the floor. If he keeps this up, the season could start slipping away from him.
Darko Rajakovic needs to change the Toronto Raptors' lineup ASAP.
Rajakovic changing the lineup wouldn't be seen as a clueless coach who doesn't know what he's doing. Rather, sticking with a group that hasn't been working lately is the height of coaching arrogance. Rajakovic loves Schroder, clearly, but something has got to give.
His concerns about Barnes bringing the ball up the court and Trent in the starting lineup coming off a terrible Hornets game might be valid, but they can easily be countered by pointing out that Toronto isn't doing a ton of winning with Rajakovic's current lineup. Why not switch it up?
Moving Trent into the starting lineup should give the spacing a boost while getting the ball out of Schroder's hands for as much as it normally is. Schroder could also take command of the bench, getting as many shots as he wants while breathing life into a lackluster unit.
The Raptors are running out of time to fix their season, and the fact that Rajakovic is refusing to try a change that might help this team out is stunning. If it fails, fine. At least you have some clarity. But why not at least give it a whirl?