Masai Ujiri's Raptors roster is forcing Darko Rajakovic into Nick Nurse

Rajakovic is being set up to fail.
Toronto Raptors Media Day
Toronto Raptors Media Day / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

There have been a handful of bright spots for the Toronto Raptors thus far in the season. Dennis Schroder is making his case as one of the Raptors' best free-agent acquisitions of all time, while Scottie Barnes seems to be on the horizon of an All-Star leap that many fans expected him to take.

Nevertheless, the remnants of the Nick Nurse-led Raptors continue to linger despite being Darko Rajakovic's team now. While Rajakovic was hired to overhaul the team's offense, Toronto's performances against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets may as well have been from last year.

This is not a complete knock on Darko's ability as a head coach, as he has generally done the best he can with a roster that was so bad it got the only coach to win a ring with the Raptors fired. Instead, the Raptors' front office and Masai Ujiri are to blame for not helping Rajakovic out with a competent roster.

Masai Ujiri's bad Toronto Raptors roster turned Darko Rajakovic into Nick Nurse.

This incarnation of the Raptors continues to face an identity crisis. Scottie Barnes has shown significant strides in his game, improving on both ends of the floor to start his third-year campaign. However, the presence of Pascal Siakam can take the shine away from Scottie, as their pairing on the court can prove awkward at times.

Rajakovic has leaned on centering his offense around playing Siakam and Barnes in the post, to various degrees of success for both players. This essentially mimics what Nurse was forced into doing with a lack of support around those two last year.

It has been quite challenging for Rajakovic to successfully employ his fast-paced system with this Raptors squad, given their severe lack of capable shooters.

The guy who's supposed to be a spark plug off the bench in Gary Trent Jr. has regressed, 20-year-old rookie Gradey Dick has struggled thus far and is now spending time with the 905 (where his 3-point shooting woes continue), and the Jalen McDaniels signing has been an absolute dud. He has averaged a putrid 16% from 3-point range.

A huge chunk of the offense falls on the starters, as a 10-man rotation is just not in the books with such a wishy-washy bench unit. Nurse played his starters so much that they ran on fumes late in the year, and Rajakovic is now finding out that it's very hard to win without doing that.

Darko has shown to be an admirable leader and schemer in the head coaching role, shifting the locker room morale in a more positive light after a very tense end to the Nurse era. But simply firing the head coach does not hide weaknesses left from Nurse's tenure.

Ujiri's inability to acquire impactful roster help has Rajakovic working with minimal leverage in his schemes. Precious time ticks away with every exposing loss, and the Raptors' front office needs to see the writing on the wall before it's too late.