Are the current Raptors mid, good or very good?
Amit Mann and Savanna Hamilton discuss what tier the current Raptors are in. Listen to the full episode on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.
AMIT MANN: Let's start with this. Are the current Raptors, as they are with Jakob Poeltl, Fred VanVleet, that combination and Pascal Siakam, all that stuff-- when they're all clicking, is this team mid? Are they good? Or are they very good? Now, I say that saying that also, the Milwaukee Bucks, I think, are on a tier of their own.
This is my personal opinion. But I do-- they're in a different stratosphere than the entire league, in my opinion. The Boston Celtics were kind of there, but the way they were playing was eh.
SAVANNA HAMILTON: The entire league.
AMIT MANN: I just think they're that good. However, you could put the Raptors anywhere underneath them, wherever you want. Mid, good, or very good?
SAVANNA HAMILTON: Good. When they're clicking, they're good. I think we've only seen glimpses this season. Let's keep it real. A "very good?" There's potential to be very good, but we've seen good a lot more than very good. So I'm going to use the average here. When they are clicking, they're good. When they're not clicking, they can drop to mid, and we've seen moments throughout the season-- the players have seen moments throughout the season where it just doesn't look like good basketball sometimes.
And they know that they have it in them to be better and everything. And with Jakob now, especially, they have found that rhythm. And you see it. It's almost like you wish that Jakob was there in the beginning of the season, because you almost wonder where would they be now with him there back then? Because they just play off of him so well.
It's almost like he was one of the plugs that they needed in terms of what he serves in the pick and roll, and how he plays off of Fred, but then Scottie really enjoys playing off of Jakob, too. He's a very unselfish guy-- not to get too far into just him in particular, but just in terms of when this team is clicking, they look really great. And you got to give credit to Jakob for coming in. And he didn't even take that long to get more familiarized again with the system that he left earlier. So it's kind of nice-- a little plug-and-play. But yeah, they're definitely a good team when they're clicking.
AMIT MANN: Sure. And it's actually OK to mention Jakob Poeltl has been the biggest difference, because he really, in fact, has been. And it also serves to the thinking that the Raptors were never really that far away with the amount of talent they have on the roster. There were just a couple of holes that needed to be fixed, and here they are now. Since the All-Star break, seventh in defense and 20th in offense, which is more closer to where we thought they would be this season. As you said, if they had Jakob for the entire season, I feel pretty confident saying they'd be a top six team.
But them be the breaks. That's how she goes. They found some success recently, staggering their starters. The bench has been a problem all season, but during the road trip especially. You just saw it against those LA teams. They would have really good stretches with the starters, bench would come in, and it just wouldn't be there.
But now, they're really honing in on how do they make sure that they have two of Fred, OG, or Gary on the court at all times to make sure that the spacing is optimal? And also, the backup center minutes still a problem. They've been experimenting with Christian Koloko a couple of times, and it's been OK. Against the Milwaukee Bucks after a DNP, Precious was out there, and he had a couple of good minutes, but then we also saw Brook Lopez just torched them in the fourth quarter.
Holy smokes. 17 points. And I say the Bucks-- the reason why the Bucks come up for me as a tier of their own is that they just have so many ways to beat you. And I think we saw two of the ways in that game, and it was successful. But they have four or five different ways to beat you. They're very, very good.