Why smaller lineups could become the Raptors benchmark this season

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TORONTO – Expect big things to come from the smaller Toronto Raptors rosters this season.
Boasting a malleable roster with many players who can play multiple positions, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse hints the team could play quite small this season.

«… Kyle [Lowry] and Fred [VanVleet] will play heavy minutes at these two positions, [Norman Powell’s] is probably going to play a lot more threes than two this year just because of the setup of who we are, which is good, ”Nurse said after the Raptors finished training on Wednesday. “OG will probably rise to other positions as well.”

With 15 of the 20 players on the Raptors training camp roster, you could reasonably consider guards or wing players, playing small would make sense for the Raptors from a strictly personal perspective, but there is has one thing to say that you are going to play small and quite another to be able to do well.

However, in that regard, maybe the Raptors could do it.

Toronto has a flexible roster, especially among some of its main gatekeepers. So while it may seem like this is a team dropping size, from a nurse’s perspective, they won’t be much in practice.

“… I never really feel small,” Nurse said. “We don’t feel small because Fred and Kyle play so big, so that’s one thing. And I imagine one of those guys is probably moving on to part of the second unit. So again, I think Fred or Kyle can keep most of the two in this league – and even three – so I’m not too worried.

The same can be said of a player like Powell, who can defend shooting guards and small forwards, and Anunoby, who we’ve seen playing center before and know he can keep all five positions on the pitch. .

The Raptors can be small – and maybe have no choice but to do so with some of the stars we’ve seen so far in the preseason.

The nurse has been particularly impressed with newcomers Malachi Flynn and DeAndre ‘Bembry so far and seems to be keen to find a place for them in the rotation. This means the team will likely have to play smaller than in the past to make room for them in the nurses’ rotation and, as he said, not everyone on the roster will benefit as much from burns. that, perhaps, promised.

“I’m not going to be able to do it for all of these guys for sure,” Nurse said of the scouting for minutes for all of her guards and wingers. “I think I’m still evaluating it and probably need to tinker around a bit.

“You know, I would say two guys we didn’t know at all played Flynn and Bembry really well. They knocked on the door here for sure just because they played so well. And it’s just one of those situations where you can’t play everyone.

It’s an interesting wrinkle ahead for Nurse with Toronto’s regular season starting in exactly one week, as he previously indicated that he wanted more certainty about eighth or ninth in the rotation and that Matt Thomas looked like the first. . Could Flynn and Bembry’s strong play make Nurse think twice about Thomas on the spot now? Could he return to a peloton spot in the rotation?

With just one more preseason game to play, there’s a good chance Nurse will continue to experiment even when the games get real.

Fast dribbling

• Raptors star Pascal Siakam recently launched a new YouTube channel which he will run in partnership with Red Bull.

In his first video, Siakam released the first multi-part mini-documentary about his off-season training and how he handled the criticisms leveled at him following Toronto’s elimination from the playoffs last season.

“I think we’re in an era where we can all decide to control what we put out there,” Siakam said on Wednesday. “It’s the beauty of having resources.

“This summer I had the opportunity to team up with Red Bull and knowing about them I know content creation is one of the things they do best. Once that opportunity presented itself, that I was going to partner with them, that was one of the first things I thought about. I love YouTube, I love watching videos and content. So you just have to find ways to create your own content to publish. It was obvious. I thought it was a perfect opportunity to start. I always wanted to start for a while and it was just the perfect opportunity. The partnership with Red Bull has made things 100% simple. ”

• Nurse isn’t the only Raptor who has been impressed with Flynn and Bembry’s play so far. Toronto center Alex Len also had kind words for his teammates on Wednesday.

“He looked amazing the first two games,” Len said of Flynn. “He wasn’t nervous. The first play, where he missed the lay-up, but other than that he had no nerves. He looked comfortable there. You can tell, it’s just a ballerina. When he goes out he knows what he’s doing.

And concerning Bembry: “It’s the perfect system for him. He will fly in defense, make saves, get his hands on the ball. I think this is a perfect solution for him. I think that’s what Coach asks him. He’s going to stop, go get flights, take a break. His jump shot improves. Perfect system for him.

• Patrick McCaw is yet to appear in a preseason game and, according to Nurse, it is not known when he will dress for the Raptors.

“He’s out there on the pitch and it’s not quite time to let him fully engage and be active in the game at full speed,” Nurse said. “I don’t really have a schedule but I hope it’s not too long.

“You know how much I appreciate him and how much I love him, and we need him. So I hope it’s short and we can get it out.

McCaw had to leave the bubble in August to have a benign mass removed from his left knee and has not played a game since the COVID-19-mandated NBA season suspension in March.

• On Tuesday, the Raptors announced that a limited number of fans will be allowed into Amalie Arena for their home games in Tampa, Fla.

The nurse seems convinced it will go off without a hitch.

“Like all of us, we keep the safe part above all, don’t we? And then we’re just confident that they’re taking all the measures, all the protocols, and whatever needs to be done to make it safe. It must be done. It has to be done that way.

• The Raptors got their first glimpse of their new temporary practice facility and, as the nurse described it, the place “blew my expectations away”.

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