The Toronto Raptors have started an NBA season at 0-3 for only the third time in franchise history, and a major reason why is Nick Nurse’s seeming lack of trust in the bench unit.
Toronto Raptors fans are not used to these kinds of starts. Since 2013, the Raptors have been consistently competitive in the eastern conference, often getting out of the gates quickly. With the losses of Ibaka and Gasol and no major signings coming back though, some fans began to worry about not only the future but this season in particular. Only 3 games into the campaign, it’s far too early to completely hammer the panic button, but the first few outings have shown that some of the preseason apprehension may not have been misplaced.
There are several reasons why the Raptors find themselves at 0-3. For starters, the starters themselves have faded in all three fourth quarters, as the late game offense has seemingly dried up. Siakam individually needs to be much better; shooting fewer threes and attacking the basket more, and that is advice that everyone on the team could follow. Toronto has settled for far too many long-range shots, and even after missing a majority of them, still, look afraid to get to the basket and draw fouls.
Although these are all major factors towards the Raptors struggles, what concerns them most is the rotation that Nick Nurse has been running. In this successful Masai Ujiri era, the Raptors have been known for having deep benches and allowing unproven players to find some minutes and make a name for themselves.
This year, however, Nurse has been very tight with the rotation, sometimes not keeping bench players on for long enough, sometimes making questionable decisions on who he’s given the minutes to, and in the case of a Malachi Flynn, sometimes not playing them at all.
Moving forward, the bench needs to be reintroduced as an important part of this team, as without a traditional superstar, the Toronto Raptors will have to rely on their coaching and depth to win basketball games. In this article, we will lay out the key names that will need to be tinkered with in order to make this happen.