How much better are the Raptors with Jakob Poeltl?
Amit Mann and Katie Heindl discuss Jakob Poeltl's play since joining the Raptors at the NBA trade deadline and how it clarifies the future of the franchise. Listen to the full podcast discussing the lineups, the path to a top-six finish in the East and more on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcas
AMIT MANN: Kickstarting their hopes and ambitions to get into the top six. I feel like we've been talking about that for many months now. But Fred VanVleet yesterday said, you know, I think we can do it, absolutely. It's going to take a lot of work, but we can do it. We can be that team. They've got to jump a lot of teams.
But before we get to all that kind of stuff, I guess just has your confidence level changed in the Toronto Raptors since the Jakob Poeltl trade, which has helped them? And actually, what we've seen over the past two games-- I'll say two, because the first game he didn't really play much. Past two games has actually been where we're seeing Jakob, you know, make the impact that we thought he might. So has it changed anything for you-- this season, also like the Raptors in the future?
KATIE HEINDL: PBD this season? [LAUGHS]
AMIT MANN: PBD, yeah.
KATIE HEINDL: The last game-- like, the last three games that we saw Jakob Poeltl in did feel like a difference makers. But I think that is with the understanding that it's been like crawling through a desert with this team. And it was kind of like being in a mirage, right, those last three wins with Jakob?
AMIT MANN: Yeah.
KATIE HEINDL: So now to-- to be seeing whether or not that it is a mirage, or this is like we've hit a place of lasting sustenance, you know what I mean?
AMIT MANN: Uh-huh.
KATIE HEINDL: So that I'm very curious to watch in these next 23 games of the season, just to see what happens. What is staying? How are roles going to change on the team? What does this mean for guys like Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, guys who's-- Gary Trent, Jr., too.
Like, guys whose names were up at the trade deadline. Does this clarify roles, you know? Like, does this clarify rotations? What is this going to do for Nick Nurse?
So that's the kind of stuff I'm keen to watch. Because I think more than where the team ends up at the end of the season, it's more clarifying to the direction that they're heading in for next season. Which I think, you know, like you and I have been hitting on pretty hard whenever we've talked throughout this season.
AMIT MANN: Clarity!
KATIE HEINDL: Clarity and direction, yes.
AMIT MANN: Yeah. And that's part of the reason why I think, you know, they made the trade is that Masai-- and he's mentioned this. He said it during his end of trade deadline Presser, which was tedious and kind of intense at points with some of the questions that were being directed towards him.
But, I mean, the takeaway is that he believes in the core of the team. And he kind of said, you know, I got to see what they look like with an actual rim protecting bank. And the roles you mentioned, that clarity, having some actual increased depth now.
Because I would imagine Gary Trent Jr. is going to go to the bench. You've got [INAUDIBLE] coming off the bench. You got some-- some real juice coming off there, and that's going to help alleviate minutes for some of the starters. And in the end, like, people want to talk about the draft picks and stuff like that.
But there isn't that many mobile rim protecting bigs in the NBA, and now you have one of them. And, you know, last year probably the price was a little bit too high for the Raptors and they didn't want to do that. They probably would have had to sacrifice Gary or someone else. And they didn't have to do it here.
They, you know, lost three draft picks and Ken Birch. But you had your guy, that's what is settled. It's very good.
Even, like, the past three games, they're at plus 5.4 points per-- points scored per 100 possessions and [LAUGHS] -30.5 points allowed per 100 possessions, both of those, when Jakob Poeltl is on the court now. The defense, obviously, that's going to even out. It's a very small sample size.
But I think it just shows that, you know, he's third in contested shots in these past two games, too. That means something. You're addressing something that's been a problem for a long time.
And now you can actually say, OK, O.G., Gary, Fred, you're going to know, at the end of this season, what you want to do and who is the best fit for your team. And that is really important to me. I think that means something.
KATIE HEINDL: Uh-huh. Yeah. No, I agree with you. I think, like, the price, if we want to say-- it's less like the price, obviously. But obviously the front office wasn't going to make a move to give too much up.
But I also think that there's, like-- there was a crunch. There was a bit of a price crunch. It was like, well, we need this right now because we didn't get this the last opportunity we had in the summer.
We thought we didn't need it. Look how we've suffered, pretty much, through the first three quarters of the season. We've got to set things right.
So generally I'm just glad that they picked one of the myriad problems that they had, and have, like, seemingly dealt with it. We'll see how that clarifies or has a trickle down effect into some of the other problems, which I think it naturally will. But, yeah, that's still a big TBD in terms of who you're moving off of this summer, because I don't think it can be-- I don't think everybody can stay.
AMIT MANN: No. No, for sure. And the reason why I think Masai and Bobby were so uncertain of what to do is that they didn't want to hang in the middle.
KATIE HEINDL: Yeah.
AMIT MANN: They didn't want to be the Chicago Bulls. But I'm not sure what they-- they really did. Like, they didn't get better. They didn't get worse. They're just like, we're going to be probably in the play-in tournament, and that's who we are. And we're going to bank on these three all-stars of ours that haven't actually played that well together to figure it out when it hasn't worked so far.
So you don't want to be that. And I think Masai and Bobby knew that. We can't be that, so where are you going to go?
Are you going to go double down, or are you going to go-- become sellers? And they decided that we're going to get ourselves a-- our protecting big and we're going to see what happens. So certainly they're kicking the ball down the canyon-- or the-- kicking the--
KATIE HEINDL: What?
AMIT MANN: God. Kicking the can--
KATIE HEINDL: Can down the road?
AMIT MANN: That's what I meant. Yeah, down the road.
KATIE HEINDL: Kicking the ball.
AMIT MANN: Kicking the can down the road is what they're doing.
KATIE HEINDL: Kicking the ball down the court works--
AMIT MANN: That's true.
KATIE HEINDL: --in the basketball sense. There you go.
AMIT MANN: I could see [INAUDIBLE] doing that.