How the Raptors can stagger Jakob Poeltl's minutes vs. Wizards

Amit Mann and Esfandiar Baraheni discuss how Jakob Poeltl's minutes could be staggered in Saturday's crucial game vs. the Wizards. Listen to the full episode on the Wizards games, rotation tweaks and Jeff Dowtin Jr. on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.

Video Transcript

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: This team completely deteriorates defensively without Jakob. And the solution to that, dot, dot, dot, I'm not sure, you know?



AMIT MANN: Yeah. Well, we were going to get to this in a second. But because you mentioned it, the Raptors were outscored 50-30 when Jakob Poeltl was not on the court last night, 50-30. And his stretch that he missed in the first half was way too long. I think Nick Nurse probably knows that now. But then in the second half, he only sat for three minutes. And in that three-minute stretch, they got outscored 10-2. So this is a pretty big problem for the Raptors.

Just touching back to the double bigs. So Kristaps Porzingis, OG Anunoby, that matchup, I mean, it's-- I'm happy that OG had the game that he did because I think it would have been a real problem if he wasn't able to capitalize on Porzingis in space. Sure, when he gets under the rim, he got blocked in that first possession. But then after that, he kind of found a groove.

And he was able to get downhill. He was creating for his teammates. And obviously fourth quarter, I mean, when they were making their little fake comeback that we all know and love, he made 4 straight field goals to himself, right?

And then defensively, Bradley Beal, he is a terrific basketball player, terrific offensive talent. But he shot 5-14. And lot of that was OG Anunoby. So credit to him. He was one of their best players, along with Jakob Poeltl.

For the Raptors now, yeah, what do you do with the non-Jak minutes? Or how do you balance things out a little bit between when Jak has to sit? I mean, probably, I think he's played like, what, 34 minutes last night or 31? That should probably be around 37. But how do you balance it out?

I think you probably have to have him with the bench unit. I think that's probably for the best. And it's the same reason why I liked Christian Koloko with the bench unit back in the day because it gives you a defensive baseline. And if they're committing those live ball turnovers, then you're screwed anyways. So those can't happen.


AMIT MANN: But also, it gives you a pick-and-roll threat for Will Barton, for Gary Trent, Jr., ways they can create some offense. A lot of it was isolation-heavy. And the Raptors, I mean, they're not a great halfcourt team. We know this. Last night, 88.5 points from 100 halfcourt plays. That's worse than it should be. But it's kind of what we expect in a way.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: It's expected, yeah.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, right? They got to hit 3's though. That's kind of what it comes down to. They have to hit their shots.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: Yeah. And look, I think they were generating a lot of open, good looks in this game, especially with Jakob out of the short roll, finding guys in the corner, finding guys set up or spot up in kind of that corner spot or maybe even a little bit higher up. He's been finding guys.

The thing is, they just haven't been able to knock down shots or-- and to your point earlier about the way they're going to be staggering these minutes and figuring out-- I think the key thing here is figuring out how to stagger your starters.


ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: But the issue there is that the starters have been inconsistent in which games they would like to show up or decide to show up. So when you stagger them, it's hard to rely on one or the other.

AMIT MANN: Yes, yeah.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: Like with Scottie, right-- with Scottie, you can understand, look, there's going to be growing pains with a guy like Scottie Barnes, who's trying to figure things out, sophomore. He's still working out the kinks of his game, absolutely, right? There's going to be off nights.

And I think last night was one of those off nights. But is that a guy that you could now necessarily rely on as a staggered starter? I'm not sure. Can he lead a lineup with another guy? That's a question you have to ask yourself.

Same thing applies for OG Anunoby, who last night was terrific. He had an excellent game, hit his shots, was probably the best shooter for the Raptors last night. He was the best shooter for the Raptors last night.


ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: So yes, he can show up. But then there's been other games earlier, before-- since he's come back from his injury Anunoby hasn't-- couldn't be relied on as a staggered starter. So can you put Scottie and OG together? That's a question you have to ask yourself.

And now, it's OK, obviously, we know Fred and Pascal minutes do extremely well. Outside of Jakob, who is plus-30 for the season already in plus-minus, it's Scottie and Pascal and Fred that are the best in terms of plus-minus in affecting the game.

Are you going to split up Pascal and Fred and put them on different kind of intervals, if you will, of the game to be able to run this rotation a little bit more tightly? And yeah, I guess the Jakob question comes down to what-- who is he paired with? Who are the guys that he's put with most?


ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: It's been Fred mostly. But maybe it could be Jakob. Maybe it could be Scottie. Maybe it could be someone else. I think these are questions that, with 19, 18 games, whatever it is that's left, that's tough to be able to determine.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, yeah.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: But that's what you're left with right now.

AMIT MANN: Yeah. And I think that's why Nick Nurse made the decision that he did to go with that four bench players with Fred is that he knows that, if they want to make any kind of noise, if they want to make a move into that top six, they need some kind of baseline with the bench unit too. And even though he was trying to be pretty safe with his starter minutes, they still got to 38, 39 for few of them because they had to play so much in the second half.

So I like the idea of using Will Barton as like a true catch-and-shoot player when the Wizards are so heavily guarding the paint and the Raptors last night. I mean, it was just walled off. There was no space in there. And so they had to hit the shots. And Fred, if he's not shooting well from 3, I mean, they generally lose the games. That's just how it goes.

And especially against the Wizards, when there isn't any space in the paint, he has to go. If he's taking 11 shots, he probably has to hit 5 of them. That's the reality.

And there were clean looks. So they were generating some good shots. But I am curious. The first decision that Nick made was, he took out Jacob and he put in Achiuwa. OK, I understand what you're saying. But maybe you take out another person. And maybe you put it in, like, Gary Trent, Jr. as well or Will Barton or something like.

And that way, then you have Jakob plus another starter, starting with the second quarter with a few bench players. And maybe this-- it's bouncing out a little bit. I don't like the idea of splitting up Fred and Pascal. I understand why you do it. But it's just, again, we're trying to get as safe as we can with our 48 minutes of basketball.


AMIT MANN: And then if you stagger Jakob-- and maybe it's a Scottie Barnes, then you give him a couple of good shooters, a Thad Young connective piece, something like that, maybe you can cook with something. But it's not easy. The fact that they don't have enough shooting in their starting lineup is starting to rear its ugly head, right?


AMIT MANN: Especially against the Wizards, it's become-- it could be a problem again on Saturday.