Raptors' Jakob Poeltl, Fred VanVleet becoming a potent duo
Amit Mann and Katie Heindl discuss the success of the Jakob Poeltl, Fred VanVleet screening actions and why it's helpful for the Raptors to have a source for easy offence. Listen to the full podcast discussing the lineups, the path to a top-6 finish in the East and more on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.
AMIT MANN: The starting lineup of VanVleet, Barnes, Siakam, Achiuwa, and Poeltl plus 23.7 point differential in 85 minutes. The two opponents, Orlando, Detroit, OK. But there's something there. And I think it just shows how much that team needed-- this team has needed someone like Jakob. But moving towards the offensive side of the ball, Fred having a pick and roll partner has been very, very helpful. And the Raptors have needed someone.
It's been like a little process, you know? We started with, OK, the Raptors have to do more pick and roll. And then they started using Scottie there. And that was good. But it just-- it wasn't clicking the way that you probably wanted to between Fred and Scottie. And also, you want Scottie doing other things because he's so malleable and so versatile. So they needed someone else. And now they have Fred and Jakob. And it's actually been pretty good. So what are the advantages of having something like that, a good pick and roll?
KATIE HEINDL: Yeah, I think, well, for me again, the thing I'm most interested in is the trickle down impacts of having somebody like Jakob Poeltl on the floor. Like, he kind of gives you more space in it. He's going to be the one that's kind of taking the knocks around the rim so it doesn't have to be a Pascal, a Scottie, a Precious when the two of them are on the floor together. It frees them up to shoot, you know?
AMIT MANN: Sure.
KATIE HEINDL: It helps-- I mean, it helps with your second chance points, which have kind of been like your bread and butter through the season, though Jakob Poeltl's straight up shooting has also been a great help thus far.
AMIT MANN: I love those floaters.
KATIE HEINDL: Yeah, fingers crossed that that sticks around.
AMIT MANN: Yeah.
KATIE HEINDL: But I mean, I am most interested in seeing what this does for Fred VanVleet because he seems to be the one that, for whatever reason this season has had a few slumps. And his role and his future with the team has lost some clarity. So I think this will actually ease things up for him.
AMIT MANN: Yeah.
KATIE HEINDL: And I hope it allows him to double down with the team and for the team to double down with him because I look around even in the off season. And I don't really know who else you're bringing in at that point role. You never know. People become available. Moves happen in the summer that are always surprises. But it would be my hope that he can still forge ahead with this team.
It's also like someone like Jakob, who he is familiar with his playing style. I think that's why the two of them have been able to click so readily and easily on the pick and roll side of things. And Jakob has matured and gotten better just like Fred has in the time that they've been apart. So I hope this is something that makes his life easier. And we will reap the benefits of that.
AMIT MANN: Yeah, I mean, I think that's spot on. I mean, the lack of clarity-- we talk about clarity. I mean, Fred's role with Scottie, his ambitions to be a point guard, it just makes it a little bit murky. Like, how does Fred fit into it? But if you have a pick and roll combo, now, that means something. Even the past two games, we're seeing in the first game, Fred goes for 26 points, eight assists.
The Pistons are playing drop. And Fred was hitting mid-range jumpers and shot 6 of 13 from 3. The volume, a lot of shots, maybe 26 shots is a little bit north of what you'd like it to be, maybe around 23, 22 or whatever. But in the end, it worked. And then fast forward to the Orlando game. And I'm sure they're thinking, OK, we've got to stop Fred here. And they trap him. And then Jakob Poeltl goes off for 31. And he has six blocks and nine rebounds. There's something there that is going to help the Raptors have easy offense, possession by possession.
And when your first couple of possessions don't really go too well within a shot clock situation, you can always go to this. And you can trust those two guys to just figure out a way to get offense out of it. And that is really important. The Raptors have struggled so much just getting good offensive looks. And he makes it so much easier, with Fred being a shot-maker and Jakob being able to hit those floaters. Those are beautiful. I love those. Also, he's the passing big. Like, who doesn't love a passing big? It's beautiful to see, you know what I mean?
KATIE HEINDL: Yeah, I do.
AMIT MANN: So--
KATIE HEINDL: Not me, I don't not love it.
AMIT MANN: I enjoy it.
KATIE HEINDL: I like it.
AMIT MANN: Yeah, there's versatility. And that's really important. The Raptors, they were trying to imagine ways they could have more versatility with this 6-9 lineup. But it just turns out perhaps that the most versatility you can have is having traditional players in traditional roles.
KATIE HEINDL: Yes, I mean, like, the argument for that is as long as you kind of have a couple fixed anchor points, it does free you up to have-- because versatility, it's like almost like, I don't know. Think of gravity or like think of like, the solar system. You have fixed points. And then you have these other bodies that can swing wildly around them. I think if you don't have those fixed points, then everybody is just very unclear on what they're doing at all times. So you add a couple of those in. And it gives everybody, I'd say, room to almost be a bit more creative. So--
AMIT MANN: Sure.
KATIE HEINDL: I'm interested to see how this plays out.
AMIT MANN: Yeah, sure. And I actually like Jakob's creativity, too. Even when he doesn't have the ball, he's not involved in the actions, he has a way of navigating space on the court. Like, there were cases in the last game where Malachi, he's going baseline. And Jakob rolls from the one side of the block, the weak side, to the strong side.
And he gets a little floater out of it. It's like those intuitive things that he's able to do because he's been in the league for a little while, that's so important. And with the Raptors, their spacing limitations, which, I mean, we all kind of know, not a lot of 3-point shooters in their ideal starting lineup. Although I want to shout out Pascal Siakam, who is shooting 40% on catch and shoot 3's in the last 15 games. So there's a beautiful uptick there.
KATIE HEINDL: Pretty good.
AMIT MANN: That's pretty damn good. But in the end, you need-- the spacing is going to be a problem. And Jakob being so smart, knowing how to just be situationally aware is going to be helpful for them to maintain that spacing.