What happened to the Raptors' defence?
Astounding — the Toronto Raptors' performance on defence has been abysmal. Nick Nurse had them in top spots for years, but since November 30th, their defensive rating has plummeted to 113.7 points per 100 possessions, leaving them 27th in the league, according to Michael Grange. Even more concerning is their opponent’s field goal percentage. Opponents have shot 66.9% on shots within five feet and 41.2% on shots beyond twenty feet — putting them in the 25th place for both metrics in the NBA standings.
Shockingly — the Raptors have become one of the worst teams defensively compared to their past seasons under Nurse's guidance.
What caused this decline? Where did things go wrong? How is it possible that this team went from one of the best defensive teams in the NBA to one of its worst?
These are all questions that need to be looked at and answered. We must delve deeper into how this happened and what can be done about it.
Has any fault been laid at the coach Nurse's door or other members of the coaching staff? What issues are there with player rotations or personnel decisions? Is there anything else we can learn from going forward that could make a positive difference for our beloved basketball team?
The answer could lie within an improved focus on fundamentals. The Raptors are not doing what they've always been good at, defending the right way. They may want to return to the drawing board and work on their fundamentals again. As a team, you must ensure all players maintain proper body position, close out with confidence on shooters, and make sure off-ball defenders are ready to rotate when needed - all these small details can come together and significantly impact defence.
Getting back to basic techniques is sometimes just thrown into practice as "another drill." Still, we must genuinely prioritize and focus on areas to ensure they stay sharp throughout the season. Going back through the game tape and analyzing game plans in hindsight helps improve what was lacking before so that we don't repeat those same mistakes in future contests.
Confounding — that Nurse has not been able to prop up the defence despite his team's abundance of 68" - 6'9" defensive bodies that they've acquired over recent seasons.
Surprisingly — even with a deep roster full of quality defenders, they are still far behind any other team in defending inside and outside the arc.
Perplexing—what some of their players are doing wrong, or isn't clicking as a cohesive unit compared to past incarnations of stellar defence?
What is Raptors' identity at the moment?
The outside noise is coming loud and clear. The Raptors are not who they think they are.
Unmasking the truth: the Raptors must confront their identity. There's a discrepancy between the team they think they are and their actual abilities.
Yes, they don't have the personnel to be an excellent 3-point shooting team this season, but what they have, on the other hand, is enough to become an elite defensive team. This team is assembled with tremendous athletic talent and tall mobile athletes who should be able to guard anyone in the league.
To pull this off, talent and coaches' schemes are not enough. You need effort! You need willingness! You must want it bad and harness your energy toward tighter defence plays. It's time to take complete control of the game. With this season on the line, the Raptors must uncover the truth and confront their identity. Who are we?
What seemed evident before may not hold—and that's ok. Despite their personnel, their goals remain the same; to win and to develop the talent at hand!
The time is now; We need to turn this season around.
So place your hands on your chest as you realize it has always been within reach; all you have to do is take control of yourself and the game. This is your moment—the time is now—to own it at every second with unparalleled dedication.
Excitement is in the air as the Raptors look to cap off this season with a bang. This is their moment. Now they must regain their focus, turning that excitement into determination and dedication to realize their ambition.
That means putting their hands on the wheel, taking control of the game and never letting go — at every second, driving towards their ends with unparalleled duty and commitment.
It's only two games left. It’s time for this team to take ownership of their defence and finish 2022 in the fashion we know they're capable of doing.