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With Revamped Roster, The Raptors Will Continue Using Two-Guard Lineups This Season

The results weren't great last season. This year? We'll see.

Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

Over at the National Post, Eric Koreen has a terrific piece from training camp about the Raptors and their plans to deploy two point guard lineups this season. You can read it in full here.

Of particular interest is Dwane Casey's reply to Eric's question of why he thinks the two point guard lineups with Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez didn't work out last year (aside from the fact that Vasquez was a liability on the defensive end any time he was on the floor, and didn't compensate for it with particularly stellar play on the other end of the floor):

It was the same reasoning that led to the Raptors giving Greivis Vasquez a two-year deal last summer. In 2013-14, Lowry and Vasquez played excellently together: The Raptors outscored their opponents by 14.9 points per 100 minutes in the 490 minutes they shared the floor. They were among that team’s most successful pairings.

With that in mind, Casey played the duo together for 650 minutes last year. The Raptors were outscored in that time.

“That’s a mystery,” Casey said. “It’s a good question because there were plays we ran last year that were great the year before and last year they weren’t worth a darn. Same defensively. We had some defensive schemes that were excellent the year before and last year you (would have) thought we had never used them before. It’s about the focus. The other three guys involved play a difference. So there’s a lot of variables that come into play when you try to compare one year to the next.”

The Raptors did sign Cory Joseph in the offseason and drafted Delon Wright in the first round. Joseph should get the majority of minutes at the back-up point guard to spell Lowry, who as we all know enters training camp in the best shape of his life. Despite that, the Raptors seem intent on managing his minutes better, but also will look to see if a Lowry-Joseph backcourt can be more effective than what Lowry-Vasquez provided last season.

When Lowry and Joseph are on the floor together, we might start to see the makings of some of the small ball lineups that Casey wants to use this season, perhaps with DeMar DeRozan at the three, DeMarre Carroll at the four, and depending on the matchups, it wouldn't be inconceivable to see Patrick Patterson at the five, although the more conventional move would be to have any combination of Jonas Valancunas, Luis Scola or Bismack Biyombo to simply have one big body on the floor for defensive purposes and or rebounding.

All of which is to say, Casey has a couple of new wrinkles he can try out based on the roster turnover, but a lot of it will be dependent on finding out if the two point guard pairing actually works this time around.