Raptors riding a roller coaster of youth and inexperience

With 20 games of the NBA season completed, the Toronto Raptors exit their six-game road trip just under .500 at 9-11.

You’d think the revolving door of injuries and roster inconsistencies would make it difficult to glean any information, but the Raptors have revealed themselves to be a young, offensively talented and defensively disoriented team. Now approximately a quarter of the way into the regular season, they’ve been defined by high highs and low lows— a rather foreign unpredictability to a team once defined by steadiness and reliability.

In some comments following Saturday afternoon’s practice, Fred VanVleet bluntly stated, “there’s a real learning curve in this league and it’s no babies allowed, so you’ve got to get up to speed or you’re going to keep getting stepped on. We’ve got to figure it out fast.”

Raptors riding a roller coaster of youth and inexperience
The youth is showing for the 2021-22 Raptors. (Photo via Getty)

It’s clear where his observations stem from, as the Raptors have been a difficult watch on the defensive end. The first, second and third line of resistance ball-handlers once encountered when facing the team has turned into blow-bys and wide open lanes to the rim. Steals and deflections have become backdoor cuts and easy lobs for the opposition.

Players are being challenged out of their typical roles and spread thin. The natural defensive cohesiveness fans became used to has shown itself to be anything but natural. This communication and quick processing requires engagement that VanVleet notes is very absent from the team.

“…defensively, to not compete, no consequences at the rim, no physicality, no talking… come out of a timeout and we’re not matched up, falling asleep… that’s stuff that can’t happen,” he said

It’s tough to exaggerate the team’s inexperience. Third in the NBA in fewest total number of games played by the active roster, only behind the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies, the Raptors’ youth is most prevalent in their inconsistent quarter-to-quarter intensity.

The team typically enters the first quarter with offensive energy, only to lose steam and fall behind in the second. Guns blaze out of the halftime break, likely after some encouragement from the coaching staff, only to once again struggle to catch up and close the matchup.

But game management comes with reps, and it isn’t all bad.

Entering Friday’s game against the Indiana Pacers, the Raptors boasted the league’s second-best offensive rating over the last 15 games — and it’s easy to see why. Between multiple post-up options in Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby, the Raptors have forwards that warrant defensive attention, and a backcourt comfortable with scoring in any area of the court.

Playmaking capabilities are shared between several players. Gary Trent Jr. conveniently decided to become one of the toughest shotmakers in the NBA, and Precious Achiuwa seems to have found a little chemistry with his point guard in VanVleet on the roll.

If anything, the offensive rhythm and resourcefulness the team has tapped into makes the leaky defence all the more frustrating— though judging by head coach Nick Nurse’s comments following the Friday night loss to the Pacers, it’s a matter of engagement within their control.

“We’ve shown we can play some really good defence and we’ve shown that if we’re not engaged fully, that we can not be so good defensively as well,” Nurse said.

Likely the biggest indicator of the Raptors’ youth and lack of collective experience is the engagement level, also echoed by Pascal Siakam’s postgame insistence that the team must simply play harder than its competition to win. It sounds easy enough, but the comments from the team follow a consistent theme here — the Raptors have the tools, it’s just up to them to put the pieces together.

With 17 of their next 21 games at home, they’ll have the chance.

More from Yahoo Sports

News Related


Sleep, social life and exercise linked to good mental health among youth

© (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem) One kid hurls a snowball as the other guards the snowman Early-2020 survey data from over 3,000 adolescents aged 11-14 found that meaningful, supportive ... Read more »

Christie Brinkley Celebrated 50 Years of Workout Goals With Side-by-Side Swimsuit Photos

At 67, Christie Brinkley still looks as fit as she did at the height of her modeling career. She reflected on her time as a swimsuit model with new side-by-side ... Read more »

Liveblog: Habs end long road trip vs. Minnesota Wild

The Montreal Canadiens will end a 10-game road trip and reach the halfway point of the regular season Monday against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Puck drop at ... Read more »

Stu Cowan: Wild GM has sage advice for Canadiens' Kent Hughes

© Provided by The Gazette Kent Hughes answers questions at a news conference introducing him as the Montreal Canadiens’ new general manager at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Jan. ... Read more »

Nygaard heads home to coach Phoenix Mercury

PHOENIX (AP) — Vanessa Nygaard is headed home to coach the Phoenix Mercury. A Scottsdale native, Nygaard was announced as the 10th coach in Mercury history on Monday after a ... Read more »

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan defends overtime rules after controversial Chiefs-Bills finish

© Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK A day after the Kansas City Chiefs advanced to the AFC Championship with an overtime victory against the Buffalo Bills, San Francisco ... Read more »

Taekwondo girl wins Pradhan Mantri Puraskar: ‘Sports and studies important parts of life'

© Provided by The Indian Express Two days ago when 12-year-old Chandigarh girl Tarushi Gaur got the news about her selection for the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar, the youngster ... Read more »

In terms of player moves, the Rangers shouldn't ease up after the lockout

© Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports The acquisition of Corey Seager was the Rangers’ biggest offseason move. Many teams effectively sat out the free-agent market before the lockout, and the Rangers ... Read more »

Ngannou: UFC Threatened To Sue My Manager Hours Before UFC 270

The drama surrounding the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and its Heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou, just got a whole lot deeper. As if fighting with a busted knee against an undefeated ... Read more »

Knicks vs. Cavaliers: Play-by-play, highlights and reactions

© Provided by HoopsHype The New York Knicks (23-24) play against the Cleveland Cavaliers (19-19) at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Game Time: 7:00 PM EST on Monday January 24, 2022 New ... Read more »

Zach LaVine returns after missing last five games

© Provided by HoopsHype Rob Schaefer: Javonte Green and Zach LaVine are playing tonight, per Billy Donovan Green has “hard” 22-25 minute restriction. LaVine will have higher minutes than that, ... Read more »

Injury Report: Klay Thompson (knee soreness) questionable vs. Mavericks on Tuesday

© Provided by WarriorsWire After missing the second leg of a back-to-back on Friday against the Houston Rockets and being ruled out on Sunday against the Utah Jazz, Klay Thompson’s ... Read more »

Chevy Corvette Celebrates 70 Years with Anniversary Package

Chevrolet is introducing a 70th Anniversary Edition package for the 2023 Corvette to mark seven decades since the C1 Corvette began production. Two colors are available—White Pearl Metallic Tri-Coat and ... Read more »

Australia: Scott Morrison's WeChat account has been taken down

Australia has accused WeChat of taking down Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s account and redirecting his followers to a site that claims to provide information for Chinese Australians. © Bianca De ... Read more »

Who's to blame in the Ukraine-Russia standoff? It depends on perspective

In the West, the current standoff between Ukraine and Russia has typically been presented as one in which a righteous Ukraine is standing up to bullying by a scheming, even ... Read more »

When two ecosystems collided, ichthyosaurs re-evolved the ability to consume large prey

The land contact between North and South America has long been a fountain of research. The Isthmus of Panama — the narrow strip of land between the two continents — ... Read more »

North American stock markets stage rally after plunging on rate, war concerns

TORONTO — North American stock markets staged a late-afternoon rally after plunging in early trading on fears about central bank moves and geopolitical risks in Ukraine along with a shaky ... Read more »

The pandemic exposed the vulnerability of international students in Canada

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, students in Canadian universities and colleges faced many challenges. Classes moved online, students were asked to leave campus residences and many students ... Read more »

Packers' pitch to Rodgers: 'There's no plans for a rebuild'

Aaron Rodgers says he doesn’t want to be part of a rebuilding project. © Provided by The Canadian Press Apparently, neither does his current coach. “There’s no plan for a ... Read more »

Rams on brink of Super Bowl despite struggling to close wins

LOS ANGELES (AP) — For the third straight week, the Los Angeles Rams took a huge early lead. © Provided by The Canadian Press For the second time in those ... Read more »

The Latest: Nadal, Barty in quarterfinals at Melbourne Park

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest at the Australian Open on Tuesday (all times local): 11:30 a.m. French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova opens quarterfinal action at Melbourne Park when she ... Read more »

Chiefs HC Andy Reid thinks both teams should get football during overtime periods

© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports As Chris Bumbaca explained for USA Today, the Kansas City Chiefs attempted to get the NFL to change its rules regarding overtime periods in 2019, ... Read more »

Lamar Jackson appears interested in Antonio Brown joining the Ravens

© Provided by Fansided Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson appeared to endorse the idea of former Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown joining him in Baltimore. Where will Antonio Brown land next? ... Read more »

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s anti-vax speech: Sanitizing history leads to moments like this

The mangling and misappropriation of historical facts reached another dismal new low over the weekend, when anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. suggested the stubbornly unvaccinated are worse off than ... Read more »

Byron Leftwich gets second Jaguars interview

© Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports Byron Leftwich is getting a second look in Jacksonville. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), the Jaguars have scheduled an in-person interview with the Buccaneers offensive ... Read more »

Former Ravens coach Brian Billick joins Arizona State staff as offensive analyst

© TNS Former Ravens coach Brian Billick has apparently not totally said goodbye to coaching. After 15 years away from coaching, former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick is joining the ... Read more »

Ducks activate Troy Terry, Cam Fowler from COVID protocol

The Anaheim Ducks are getting some big names back into the fold. They tweeted today that they’ve activated forward Troy Terry and defenseman Cam Fowler from COVID-19 protocol, assigning forward Vinni Lettieri ... Read more »

Andy Reid Has Honest Admission About Overtime Rules

© Provided by The Spun Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders Andy Reid is the latest to weigh in on the NFL’s controversial overtime rules. The Chiefs were major ... Read more »

Cowboys assistant Ben McAdoo hired as Panthers OC

© Provided by Cowboys Wire The first Cowboys staffer has left the building. Ben McAdoo had been on staff this season under head coach and longtime colleague Mike McCarthy as ... Read more »

'This is absolutely a letdown of the season': Darren Woodson talks Cowboys' shortcomings

© Provided by Cowboys Wire The 2021 season ended on a very sour note for the Dallas Cowboys. After 12 wins and their fourth NFC East title in the last ... Read more »

Mecole Hardman not happy with Jermaine Burton's transfer decision

© Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports Mecole Hardman raises a valid point about a transfer decision that doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface. Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole ... Read more »

Tricity reports seven more Covid-19 deaths

© Provided by The Indian Express The Tricity reported seven more Covid-19 deaths on Monday. UT: 568 new cases, one death The city on Monday reported 568 new cases (via ... Read more »

This Genius $13 Product on Amazon Gives You the Perfect Movie Theater Popcorn at Home

© Courtesy of Hotpop. If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, SheKnows may receive an affiliate commission. For movie lovers everywhere, your ... Read more »

Kyle Shanahan Reveals Official Diagnosis For Trent Williams

© Provided by The Spun San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Trent Williams The San Francisco 49ers recorded one of the biggest upsets of the season on Saturday, beating the Packers ... Read more »

One of Meghan Markle's Favorite Candle Brands Diptyque Released Dreamy Valentine's Day Sets at Nordstrom

If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, SheKnows may receive an affiliate commission. With Valentine’s Day approaching, intoxicating scents are the perfect ... Read more »

I Tried Goop's G.Tox 7-Day Reset & Here's How It Went

If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, SheKnows may receive an affiliate commission. I’m not normally into New Year’s resolutions, and I ... Read more »

Why the Supreme Court should rule against Harvard in affirmative action case

© Provided by NBC News The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to review Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, a case challenging the use of ... Read more »

F1 hopes for ‘relief' of a stable 2022 calendar

Formula 1 sporting director Steve Nielsen said it would be a “blessed relief” if the 2022 calendar could be completed as planned. The series has revealed a 23-race calendar for ... Read more »

Sheldon Silver, New York power broker before downfall, dies at 77

Sheldon Silver, New York’s once-powerful Assembly speaker who was sentenced to prison after decades in office on corruption charges, has died in federal custody. He was 77. The cause of ... Read more »

Urban Meyer calls losing in the NFL 'the worst experience I've had in my professional lifetime'

After an amazingly successful college coaching career, Urban Meyer found the professional ranks much tougher, failing to make it through even one season as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic