Was moving Gary Trent Jr. to the bench the right choice?

Imman Adan and Jordan Hayles discuss the results of moving Gary Trent Jr. to a bench role so far and the lineups Nick Nurse has experimented with. Listen to the full episode on the "Raptors Over Everything" podcast feed or watch on YouTube.

Video Transcript

IMMAN ADAN: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode brought to you by Yahoo Sports Canada. My name is Imman, and I am joined by Jordan. Jordan, what is up?

JORDAN HAYLES: What's up? I'm chilling. How are you? Thanks for having me, as usual.

IMMAN ADAN: Of course. Of course. And everybody, you guys already know the deal. Like, subscribe, share with your friends. Leave comments, as long as they're positive.

And here, I'll add this in as well. So to me, I have liked Gary Trent Jr. in the starting lineup. I've been a fan of Gary Trent Jr. in the starting lineup. I think the next game is a perfect example. I, personally, I think I look at the Magic, and I know the Raptors did well. They're a big long team. To your point, they've got a bunch of guys who are big and long. They can't shoot.

It's fine to have Gary come off the bench in that particular matchup because it's the Magic. But in general, against a team that can score, I looked at the Raptors in that Nets game and their offense-- at one point, wasn't the score like 40-17? Like, the Raptors could not score--

JORDAN HAYLES: Yeah, it was-- it was really bad.

IMMAN ADAN: --to save their lives. And so-- and-- and watching Pascal really work in negative spacing is not fun. So when you have Fred, who's in a 3-point shooting drought, and you have OG Anunoby, who is a good 3-point shooter but hasn't really found his touch at the start of this year, and then you have Scottie, who's not a particularly great 3-point shooter, and you have Christian Koloko, who can't take a 3. I think he's taken five 3's this year and has not made a single one of them.

What is the spacing for this team? Like, that is not NBA-level spacing. They needed Gary Trent Jr. They needed what he would do and the offense that he can bring. And so I look at that game, and I'm like, the Raptors need Gary Trent Jr. spacing.

And so I was looking at the numbers with the Raptors' traditional starting lineup, which would be Gary Trent Jr. in there with Scottie and OG and Pascal and Fred. In the first quarter, do you want to take a guess in if they have a positive or a negative net rating? [LAUGHS]

JORDAN HAYLES: I'm assuming, by the change of your tone of voice, it is a positive net rating.

IMMAN ADAN: [LAUGHS] It's certainly not a positive net rating. It is a negative net rating.


IMMAN ADAN: It is a bad, bad net rating. Do you want to take a stab at what you think it would be in terms of first quarter? If not, I can tell you what it is.

JORDAN HAYLES: Imman, you have all the numbers right in front of you. Go ahead.

IMMAN ADAN: Minus 22.6.


IMMAN ADAN: That is their net rating in first quarters. Throughout the rest of the game, much, much, much better. In the second half, plus 9.5. So for whatever reason, this team, regard-- and I think some of these numbers are obviously clouded. There's not-- it's still a small sample size, right? We're talking about some of these blowups that have happened-- or blowups, blowouts, that's the word. We're talking about some of these blowouts that have happened.

And so that's probably going to cloud it, but this is not a particularly good first quarter team. And so it's like, I can't be calling for the traditional starting lineup when, like, that's what they do. And I think a lot of people last season were looking at that lineup and saying, they have a bad net rating. They don't-- like, you need to have a traditional center in there.

And so people wanted, whether it be Precious Achiuwa, or Khem Birch, or someone in there to slot in in moving Gary to the bench. And I wasn't a fan of that, number one because of spacing. And number two, I don't really see Gary as your sort of-- I don't think he's a prototypical bench scorer in the way that, like, a Jamal Crawford or a Lou Williams are just because--


IMMAN ADAN: --they have the playmaking and Gary Trent Jr. doesn't. Right?


IMMAN ADAN: Like, I think that that is a huge, huge point. And so, to me, watching the-- Scottie Barnes and Gary come off the bench together, I was like, OK, I can see how that works. And I understand that the Raptors don't play all bench lineups together. They do-- they will have one of Scottie, one of Fred, one of Pascal, some ball handler on the court with Gary.

But I just, like-- what is-- because I think a lot of people are pointing to Nick Nurse's wonky lineups, and I certainly am as well, and saying, like, what are the Raptors doing here? Why is this the lineup that we're doing? But what are your thoughts, now knowing what some of the numbers are for the traditional starting lineup?

JORDAN HAYLES: It's interesting because as-- when we had the traditional lineup, and then I was always a fan of, you know, Chris Boucher being the first off the bench because just like, you know, he has been the spark plug--


JORDAN HAYLES: --when you need it. And because of the fact that he has the 3-point threat, he can get inside. He "Dishes and Dimes" like all the livelong day as well.

IMMAN ADAN: Yeah, shout out to "Dishes and Dimes."

JORDAN HAYLES: Yeah, that, too.


JORDAN HAYLES: And I-- and especially when him and Thad are on the floor together, it's just like, OK, well, you still have--

IMMAN ADAN: Ooh, Thad finds him so great, is a great cutter. It's a great--

JORDAN HAYLES: You know what I'm saying? Because, like--

IMMAN ADAN: Chris Boucher is a great cutter. Thad is a great connector. It works.

JORDAN HAYLES: Exactly, so, like, that works in a sense as well. And I think because of the fact that when you have Gary and Fred, and if they're not clicking, if they're not clicking right off the bat in terms of getting their shooting and whatnot, it's just like, OK, that gets us into bad holes because long shots, long rebounds, if we're not getting the offensive board, then just like, all right, we're going to put ourselves in the hole with running back and forth.

And you know that Pascal is going to get doubled, tripled, or-- it's just like, there's a lot of attention on him. So he can be the facilitator, but if guys are not knocking their shots down early, it's just like, now you have to pick it up, you know what I'm saying?

So it's just like, OK, do you go with a Khem, or do you be like, all right, you know what? Let's try something even nuts. Throw Boucher in there. I mean, I know that doesn't sound like it makes any sense, but when you were looking for a tone setter to start off the game, it's just like, all right. We need some kind of energy and rhythm.


JORDAN HAYLES: You have rim runners, and you have, you know, two guys who are shot creators. It's like, all right, Pascal is the main shot creator. Fred, he's undersized for a lot of games just because that, you know, there are bigger and taller players in the league now. And it hurts to see Fred get to the rim and get blocked repeatedly. You know what I'm saying? Or have to force-- force--

IMMAN ADAN: I think he's right now dead last in terms of guys who've taken a minimum of, like-- I don't know, whatever the minimum is-- shots at the rim. Yeah, I think right now he has the worst percentage. And Tre Jones is right underneath him. So, I mean, we're talking about two guys that are not quite 6 feet tall.


IMMAN ADAN: That's kind of like an issue there. But I completely agree with you.

JORDAN HAYLES: Yeah, and it's just a matter of just like, all right, well, what makes the most feasible sense? Especially when you're going up against elite teams. Like, we're seeing Boston coming up, and then we have the Lakers, and then we have--

IMMAN ADAN: We're doing better. Anthony--


IMMAN ADAN: --Davis is a superstar right now. He's playing like the Anthony Davis they traded for.

JORDAN HAYLES: Exactly, like, we're getting a lot of teams, like, you know, when they're getting to their best. Now, on the flip side, the Raptors are getting some more consistency with their health. I know, like, some guys are, like, kind of banged up. But getting Pascal is a game-changer.

If we didn't have Pascal, we're not having this discussion like, oh, how will the-- how will the Raptors fare against the Celtics? We get blown out.

IMMAN ADAN: Pascal is so good.

JORDAN HAYLES: Like that's just-- you know what I'm saying? So--

IMMAN ADAN: Pascal is so, so--

JORDAN HAYLES: He's amazing.

IMMAN ADAN: --so good.

JORDAN HAYLES: And I've been team Pascal since we drafted him, OK?

IMMAN ADAN: He's so good.

JORDAN HAYLES: Check the tweets. I've been there--

IMMAN ADAN: I-- look. I don't think--

JORDAN HAYLES: --in one.

IMMAN ADAN: --people realize that, like, he could just, like, literally slept walk to, like, what is nearly a triple-double.

JORDAN HAYLES: Yeah, and that's--

IMMAN ADAN: And if the Magic had been a competitive team, he would have gotten the triple-double because he wouldn't have needed to stay in the game for two extra minutes, you know?

JORDAN HAYLES: Exactly, and it's-- and it just speaks to how much he's grown as a player because when you look up, like, everything about that game really is just like, oh, this is OG. You know what I'm saying? And then, like, you know, Fred and Gary were pretty quiet, but Scottie had, like, a great double-double game.

And then he was like, oh, yeah, Pascal did all that? But it didn't even feel like it. You know what I'm saying? But he's still having an impact. And he is-- he's the guy. You know what I'm saying? He is--


JORDAN HAYLES: --the max player. He is the all NBA.

IMMAN ADAN: He's a superstar.

JORDAN HAYLES: Yeah, exactly.

IMMAN ADAN: He is your guy.

JORDAN HAYLES: So it's just like, everything-- everything starts with him. And it's a matter of, like, all right, you got to get him going. But the supporting cast needs to step up, too.


JORDAN HAYLES: Gary needs to shoot better. Fred needs to shoot better. The ball can't just stick with Fred. It has--

IMMAN ADAN: And Scottie's got to be more aggressive. And you touched on it. Like, that's something, like, I thought Scottie had a great game yesterday. I-- I liked him, and I liked his energy that he brought. I look at that Pelicans game as, like, a game where, yeah, there's a lot of talk about Scottie and his body language. But I look at that Pelicans game, and I'm like, there's no reason for Scottie to be taking seven shots--


IMMAN ADAN: --only, and there's no reason for five of those seven shots to be beyond the arc.


IMMAN ADAN: You're not-- like--

JORDAN HAYLES: That's not his game.

IMMAN ADAN: That's not your game.

JORDAN HAYLES: That's not his game. He's inside.

IMMAN ADAN: And like, I-- and he looked a-- he looked more aggressive, and he had some tape on his knee, so I'm not sure if it's a knee issue with Scottie Barnes or an ankle issue, necessarily. If you listen to Nick Nurse, he says he's fine. I think that Scotty knows his body, so I'll trust that it's either a knee or an ankle issue.

But like, it's-- you've got to be more aggressive. You-- you have got to find your way inside. And that is something that I think we're seeing more from Scottie Barnes. I don't mind the outside shot because it's going to come to him in rhythm at times when you do have a Pascal being doubled. You're going to be able to get some of those. But five out of your seven shots, never OK.

JORDAN HAYLES: No, that's not going to cut it, especially because the fact that, like, your bread and butter is the middle. [LAUGHS] It's the mid range and at the rim. You know what I'm saying? You're a great passer.


JORDAN HAYLES: It's like, all right, when you impose your will early and often, that's what gets the rest of the team going.