Is role definition the cure to the Raptors' woes?

Amit Mann and Jevohn Shepherd explain the importance of role definition in the NBA and why it could be influencing the Raptors' season. Listen to the full episode on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed or watch on our YouTube.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: Yeah. You just saw a lot of really important things there on the Wolves game. It seemed like their offense was clicking. Early fourth quarter, Scotty makes a few shots. So he's getting downhill. And then they just started to spam Pascal Siakam a lot of possessions. And, you know, that can be valuable. That can be good for your offense in the right situations. And this is something I want to ask you about and we'll get to this in a second.

But Pascal, you know, past 10 games or so, his numbers have dipped a little bit. His field goal percentage has dipped. And, I think, it's not because he's playing worse. I think his assists are still up there. Teams are guarding him differently and they're capitalizing on some things that he's still trying to learn about in terms of his handle, in terms of being able to go different directions.

And Minnesota, they're on top of that stuff, especially late in the fourth quarter. You know, Anthony Edwards, he was locked in on playing defense. And the Raptors were trying to attack him and it wasn't going well. And when you talk about trusting-- trusting the ball movement. And that's what I've seen over the last 10 games or so is that the ball was moving better.

And you're getting back into what they were last year, where it was like we can get you any different way. While at points this year, it's been like now it's going to be this guy. Now it's going to be that guy. It's not just like a fluid thing.

You know, if you're going to be a team that's like about offense by committee, then you have to be unselfish. You have to be willing to make that extra pass. And sometimes they do it, other times they don't. And especially late in games, they get hesitant and they stop trusting that process. And that is, I think, a default for a lot of teams, right? It's easier just to pass it to insert here and just say go one on one and try and make a play for us. And that's what they were doing and it wasn't going well last night.

There were some makeable shots that were missed and that's going to happen. But there were a lot of possessions that just they weren't good shots for their offense at that juncture of the game.

JEVOHN SHEPHERD: Yeah, absolutely. And I think I completely agree with that. I think a lot of that also has to do with, you know, when you're losing, the guys on the team often think, OK, I can do more. I want to do more. I want more minutes. I want more shots I want more opportunity because I feel like I can contribute to winning, right?

It's also the reason why they're playing on a level that they are playing at the NBA level is that they have that belief. They have that trust in themself. They have that irrational confidence to think I can help, I can contribute. So sometimes when you get in those situations, you tend to want to put the weight of-- bear the weight of the responsibility on your shoulders. So you start to get to one on one basketball or take some ill-advised shots at inappropriate times or just think that can take over the game.

Now again, it's almost a gift and a curse because I believe I can do more. I want to show the coaches. I want to show the front office that I'm more deserving, right? And you get into that play and sometimes it works. Oftentimes it doesn't, right? And you crumble. And then that's where to my point earlier is where you need a really good like vocal leader.

You need a guy in a locker room, that guys that can really reel everybody in. And not to say not to take away from anybody, but put them in position to be the most successful, right, and really utilize their skill sets, really, and not get carried away in the, you know, what my-- my personal agenda in trying to showcase it on in the fourth quarter on a grand stage where it can be compromising to a team.

And that's a tough balance between maturity, being in a league being playing at that level for a while and just understanding when to press the gas, when to pull the brakes a bit. It's also-- it's a combination of coaching staff knowing their players and how to communicate with their players. It's a combination of players understanding each other, right?

And I think you have a Raptors team as well that has a couple of guys in unique situations, right, some really young talented guys, some guys that are trying to prove themselves, some guys that are veterans that have had some success, but still have a chip on their shoulder because they really haven't got their just due. So everybody's still trying to-- still try to prove themselves in a sense.

I think sometimes, you know, that may get in the way of it. But I personally, I will take that because it's guys that they want to do more. They want to compete. They want to prove, right?

AMIT MANN: Sure.

JEVOHN SHEPHERD: So I'm OK with it. And I think we were talking off air before we jumped down here. I don't think this team is as far away as the record suggests.

AMIT MANN: I don't think so either.

JEVOHN SHEPHERD: I'm not from the camp of blow this up and--

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

JEVOHN SHEPHERD: This guy's got to go, this guy's got to go. There's a reason why. When the rumor mill starts going around trade deadline, there's a reason why a number of teams are salivating at the potential possibilities of grasping, getting a hand on some of these Raptors players, right? Some valuable pieces, right?

So yeah, I'm not from the camp of, hey, we've got to blow this thing up tomorrow. The reality is when you look at teams and obviously this team won the championship in 2019. When you look at other teams across the league that are championship teams, they have a dip two or three years later.

You know, Lakers are-- it's important. But just two years ago, they're a championship team. But what happens with those teams is that they're good teams and championship teams are comprised of some good young pieces, some really good veterans that are probably at the point of their career that just about to hit that D card, right? And some young players that contribute and, you know, earning himself more lucrative contracts.

Veterans now start to take a decline. So there's not as much need for those veterans. And we've seen it with Gasol, Ibaka, and those pieces go. Those pieces go, right? And then those young pieces end up on other teams for more lucrative deals because they've earned it. And then you're really stuck with just a skeleton to build from, right? And usually that takes a hit. So I think this is a part of what we're experiencing as well.