Raptors' first attempt at offensive overhaul taught Toronto important lesson

Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Dwane Casey (NBA Illustration)

There was a time, beneath coach Dwane Casey, when the Raptors entered a season hoping to utterly alter their offensive strategy. However no, this was not final October — it was again in 2012, the ultimate season of Raps common supervisor Bryan Colangelo’s tenure.

It didn’t go properly. Because the Raptors get underway in what will probably be a crucial postseason for the franchise, which holds the No. 1 seed within the East, it’s value remembering that their effort this season to vary their fashion of offense didn’t need to end up as constructive because it did. The final time the Raptors modified the offense, issues unraveled shortly.

On the finish of Casey’s first season in Toronto, he acknowledged that there needed to be some offensive modifications. The staff had been strong defensively (twelfth within the league in effectivity) in 2011-12, however the offense was missing (twenty fifth).

On the finish of his first yr, Casey informed reporters, “We’re going to have the identical strategy, the identical disciplined strategy on the defensive finish, and enjoying extra uptempo. That’s what we need to do [next] yr.”

For some time, they did. For the first half of the yr, the Raptors averaged 22.1 three-pointers, up from sixteen.three per recreation the earlier yr. And in Toronto’s first 23 video games, the Raptors performed at a tempo of ninety four.29 possessions per forty eight minutes, up from ninety one.sixty three the earlier yr.

They have been operating. Tempo was up. So have been three-level makes an attempt. Alas, additionally they acquired off to a four-19 begin. Their offensive score was ninety nine.three, twenty fourth within the league. The protection, which had improved in Casey’s first yr, dropped to twenty seventh within the league.

Wanting again on that interval, guard DeMar DeRozan stated, “You need to have the appropriate gamers to play sure methods. We didn’t have the personnel to be a quick workforce like we do now. You’ve received to have the appropriate gamers.”

The great news for the Raptors was that they scrapped the uptempo experiment shortly, and tried to return to the defensive roots Casey established. After the catastrophe of these first 23 video games, the Raptors slowed the tempo (again right down to ninety two.35 possessions per forty eight minutes) and the protection received higher, rating 18th after the poor begin. Toronto traded for Rudy Homosexual at the top of January, and he was shipped out early the next yr.

That experiment with an offensive overhaul fell flat, however the Raptors returned to what has been their bread-and-butter — build up their defensive standing within the league. 4 years in the past, they ranked twenty third in defensive effectivity. From there, they went to eleventh after which to eighth. This yr, they rank fifth.

“We have been extra of a defensive mindset once I first obtained right here, six, seven years in the past,” Casey informed Sporting Information. “We have been creating, extra apprehensive concerning the draft than we have been anything at that point. It’s a unique day. We’re going with the occasions.”

That’s in all probability the lesson that might be gleaned from what the Raptors tried to do the final time they modified their offense — they have been making a change earlier than they have been prepared, and that change didn’t essentially match that group, or with the league generally.

“As we speak’s a three-level capturing league, and we try to develop that philosophy and at the identical time keep our focus and be related defensively,” Casey stated. “We’re not going to say, ‘OK, we’re going to outscore you.’ Again at that point, we have been completely totally different. We have been occupied with establishing a defensive id. We have been thirtieth. Now we’re fifth.

“That was my mandate coming in, was to get our protection beneath management and again in control.”