What Raptors management have to figure out in 2023

Imman Adan, Oren Weisfeld and Amit Mann discuss decisions and additions they would like to see from Raptors management in 2023. Listen to the full episode looking at New Year's resolutions for Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes and more on the "Raptors Over Everything" podcast feed.

Video Transcript

IMMAN ADAN: So let's push over to Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster. Is it make a trade? Is that what we're saying? Just do it.

AMIT MANN: I mean--

OREN WEISFELD: It is, but-- OK. Go ahead.

AMIT MANN: No, you can go ahead, man. I had a more holistic look at it.

OREN WEISFELD: Yeah. I was just going to say quickly it is a trade. But the person we haven't mentioned, which I always find funny because we talked about Koloko a lot, is Otto Porter Jr. Who is a shooter that they could desperately use, who's the best shooter on this team in terms of historic percentages, and who is dealing with a very mysterious injury that-- like, I don't want to get it into speculation. But if they can get Otto Porter Jr. back-- and the timeline is around now from the last time we talked to Nick. He said about a month a month ago. He could really help them. But I am growing more and more skeptical that Otto is ever going to play for this team again just based on the fact that he's never mentioned and he-- yeah. It's just a very weird situation. But they could really, really use him.

IMMAN ADAN: Yeah. I am surprised--

AMIT MANN: He looked really good in those minutes he played. He was really starting to find his groove. And you can just see how he's such a natural fit with the Raptors with his X-outs, his timing, his reads on defense.

IMMAN ADAN: If he pulls back, is Nick Nurse going to play him 20 minutes a night when he does not want to be.

AMIT MANN: I mean, yeah. Jesus. I mean, with this team like Bobby and Masai, yes, they need dribble penetration. They need a center. But I think this year overall I want them to establish what this team is going forward. We've talked about the conflicting timelines with do you play Koloko? Do you play Khem Birch? Stuff like that, I don't think they can continue this. They have to make a decision with some of these things. Like, what are you trying to be going forward? And also with the Gary Trent Jr., with the Fred VanVleet, both those guys are up for contract extensions. What's going to happen there?

I think you have to decide, like, OK, so our nucleus is going to be Pascal, Scottie, and OG. Cool. That's your two to four. What do you need from that five spot, and what do you need from your point guard? Is it in fact, you know, a shooter like when Fred is right? Is it a shooter like him? Or, because Scottie is still kind of figuring out his ways as a dribble penetrator, do you think you need a more of a penetrating guard as your point guard?

Do you need more shoot? Do you need maybe less shooting from that person? But hey, we'll have a five who can shoot who can also protect the rim. Like, you've got to make some real decisions because the roster is so flawed on purpose because they were trying to do Vision 6-9. But we're seeing where the leaky holes are. It's cool to have a jack of all trades, but it also means you're a master of none, right? And there are things that are just missing with this team, and they're actually not far. They're really close. We saw how good they can be--


AMIT MANN: --at their peak. But teams are figuring them out. When a star comes in here and says, yeah, we know how the Raptors are, it's so annoying hearing that because everyone kind of knows. It's predictable. You want to make teams uncomfortable. That's the whole genesis of the Raptors defense, and--

IMMAN ADAN: It becomes less--

AMIT MANN: --no one's uncomfortable.

IMMAN ADAN: --predictable when guys hit their shots, right?

AMIT MANN: True. Yes.

IMMAN ADAN: Like to me, the idea of the Raptors-- or Vision 6-9 to me is it shouldn't be the entirety of your team. You should be able to be a little bit more flexible. The reason why the Raptors won a championship is because they could have played Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol and gone super big, or they could have played without their bigs and gone small. You need that versatility. You can't just be like, oh, we're up against Joel Embiid or Nikola Jokic. Sorry, we're Vision 6-9. We've got nothing for you, Steven Adams. You need to have that versatility.

And here's the thing. The Raptors become a lot trickier to guard when OG Anunoby is a threat from outside, when Fred VanVleet is a threat from outside, when your Juanchos and your Ottos are in the game and they're a threat from outside, when you have someone like Precious Achiuwa and when you're getting stops defensively and are running. This is a team that needs to be very-- everything needs to go right in order for things to go right. And currently, way too many things are going wrong.


IMMAN ADAN: And that's what they look like right now. And it's been all bad. So I'm going to throw my last one at you guys before we close out. Let's get a New Year's resolution for Raptor fans. [LAUGHS]


AMIT MANN: Leave Scottie Barnes alone. Leave Scottie Barnes alone. Leave Scottie Barnes alone. That's what I want to say.

IMMAN ADAN: Leave Fred alone.

AMIT MANN: Yeah. Well I mean, yes. For sure. But for sure, leave Scottie Barnes alone. How many stars will come in here-- and Adam Laskaris of the "Daily Hive" has been very good about asking every star player who comes in, hey, so what happens in your sophomore year and why do you struggle and what are the things that are happening for a person like Scottie? And they're all saying that, you know, you've been found out. People know who you are. But Scottie Barnes specifically is going to be just fine. Jayson Tatum said it. KD said it. Ja Morant, hysterically-- when he's asked about this-- he's like, yeah, I took a leap in my second year, so it's kind of different for me. But as he was walking out of the media area, he's like--

IMMAN ADAN: He also took a leap in his third year. Congrats for [INAUDIBLE].

AMIT MANN: He's a hell of a talent. He's going to be fine. There is a lot of things going on for Scottie Barnes. I think, collectively, Raptors management, they've got to talk to him. They've got to simplify his role. There are too many things happening for him at once. And I would love to see him, like I said, go back to what he was last season. You shoot when you're open. You are a relentless driver when it comes to your ball handling. And you go into the paint. Like, that's what your role.

IMMAN ADAN: You're bigger than most people guarding you, Scott.

AMIT MANN: And Jaren Jackson like is a rare talent, right? And that's one of the people that could actually keep up with Scottie. But even looking at what Memphis is, like, we talk about the similarities between those two franchises. They're built right. You've got Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks-- two pretty good shooters, decent shooters, adequate, whatever, but they're NBA League average. They've got a big-- they've got a penetrating guard. They got Ja Morant, who is their number one star. Their construction is right. And then they have players like Brandon Clarke and so forth coming off their bench.

Everything they're doing makes sense. The Raptors are just, like-- some things are just missing. Whether it's off their bench, whether it's in their starting lineup, things are just not really syncing right. But again, like I said earlier, they're not that far away from figuring this out. So Raptors management, what are you going to do?