Imman Adan and Adon Moss recap how Jakob Poeltl helped the Raptors' starting lineup after he was acquired at the trade deadline. Listen to the full podcast assigning grades for all the starters on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.
IMMAN ADAN: OK. So finally, the guy that I gave the highest grade to, the man himself, Jakob Poeltl. What'd you give Jakob Poeltl?
ADON MOSS: Big smacking A, nice, shiny A.
IMMAN ADAN: Me too. It was so fun to give him one. Because I was struggling with the rest of this team.
ADON MOSS: Yeah. And part of that, is that his role was simple.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.
ADON MOSS: Part of it is that the contrast before he was there and after was stark.
IMMAN ADAN: Very.
ADON MOSS: But you had
IMMAN ADAN: I feel like we just got rid of a point guard, and then we traded for Fred VanVleet, we'd be like hey, we can get rid of a Pascal Siakam type. And we trade for him, hey!
ADON MOSS: Exactly.
IMMAN ADAN: It just so happened that we didn't have one of you before.
ADON MOSS: Yeah. There's certainly some bias there, as far as new and pretty. But it was very obvious. He led the team in points per shot attempt. He was just extremely efficient down low. We talked about how he opened up Freddie's game demonstratively. The change was just so--
IMMAN ADAN: Stark.
ADON MOSS: Evident, yeah. And I do think Scottie did a good job as the screener, like we were talking about. But Poeltl was just very clear on the defensive end. He was-- with him on the floor, the Raptors had a minus 10 on defense. So, that's a good thing, right, per 100 possessions.
IMMAN ADAN: I agree, defensive rating.
ADON MOSS: Yeah, in his on-off, and then with him on the floor in net totals, plus 14. He just changed this team. And you know, it's funny. Because Birch kind of did something similar last year. And we were like, wow, Birch is amazing! But that didn't really pan out. And so, I'm careful. Maybe there's something to be said about Poeltl next year. And teams will figure him out. But as far as what we saw, he was kind of the real deal, as far as what this team needed.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah, no disrespect to Khem Birch. I feel like Jakob Poeltl is a clear upgrade there. He does a lot of the things. He does a lot of the things that the Raptors needed, right? You needed a rim protector. I think the reason why those Birch numbers look good, is yes, Birch is undersized. But just having someone who can anchor your defense, just having someone at the back line of that matters so much.
And offensively, you mentioned it, the way that he sort of opened up everything for this team. This is a team that's going to miss a lot of shots. They're going to need a lot of offensive boards. He was absolutely great at that, which is why his efficiency is so incredibly high, is because every single tip-in just went in, which was amazing. But also, he's such a great screener.
And I've been caught up on the spacing with this team. But screening also improves your spacing. It opens up things for your guys. So, having one of the best screeners in the NBA-- quite frankly, because when you just look at how he changed this team-- matters a lot. And also, just having a roller, for a team that doesn't run a lot of easy offense, just pick and roll. It's because they've really struggled having that guy who can set a screen and finish.
But having Jakob Poeltl completely changes everything for this team. I think that people have been really stuck on how Pascal sort of looked after that. And I think the spacing really hurts, for sure. You're removing Gary Trent Jr., and you're adding in another guy who can't shoot. But I don't know that I'm like looking at those two as two people who can't exist together. I don't think that that's a thing that we'll see long term. And it really did open up a lot of things for Fred VanVleet there. And it opens up a lot of things for the Raptors offense.
So to me, it's easy. He gets an A. He gets an A, because defensively, he was perfect. Offensively, he was perfect. And everything about him is perfect. I love you, Jakob Poeltl.
ADON MOSS: Agreed.
IMMAN ADAN: Thank you for the ring, too.