The Raptors have not been playing well lately. This is obvious. But why? Offensively they've been middle of the pack, which is a big drop off from earlier in the year. And there are changes a lot of us would like to see made to the offence. But what is really concerning is the defence. The Raptors have the ninth worst defensive rating over the past 15 games. In conjunction with the stalling offence, it's no surprise the Raptors are on a big slide.
Historically, Jonas Valanciunas has had some growing pains. Typically for his career, he's tended to have one of the worst net ratings on the team. The offence sputters with him on the court, and the defense in particular falls through the floor. This has been true even for the first part of this year. But over the past 15 games, JV has suddenly become one of the only bright spots in a terrible run of basketball.
In that time, Jonas has ranked second out of the regular rotation guys in on-court defensive rating, behind only James Johnson. Meanwhile, he's posted middle-of-the-pack on-court offensive ratings compared to the rest of the team. He's also become our only reliable rebounder. With him on the court, the team puts up a 23.7 Offensive Rebounding percentage (ORB%) and a 75.8 Defensive Rebound percentage (DRB%), both average numbers. Without him? 20.3 and 69.3. Very poor.
We've covered in this space the concerns with the Raptors' guard heavy offence and the inefficiencies therein, so I won't focus on the offensive end. It's clear that unless the system changes to accommodate more post play, it doesn't much matter who is on the court. But defense is supposed to be Casey's first, second and third priority, so let's look at that.
The top five regular rotation players in on-court defensive rating over the past 15 games:
Interesting set of players there, wouldn't you say?
Meanwhile, the players whose absence makes the team worse defensively (highest off-court defensive ratings):
Huh. Maybe we should be seeing more of these players. JJ has averaged 23 minutes per game in those 15 contests. JV and Patterson have averaged 27. Lowry is at 32, while DeMar leads at 34.
And why not run them out together more? Yes, they struggled against Golden State, but everyone did that game. Even with the veritable beat down from the Warriors, overall over the past 15 games that lineup has a positive net rating.
So, any thoughts on whether this lineup deserves another shot after the Golden State game? Any thoughts on what to do with the bench or the offence if they take this route?
(All stats taken from NBA.com.)