Toronto Raptors Making Two-Point Guard Second Unit Line-up Work
With key veteran departures over the summer, the Raptors were left with young developing pieces who were about to be forced to grow on the run. The Raptors’ window to win isn’t as wide as it once was two seasons ago. The difference between a good team and an elite team would be determined by the play of Jakob Poeltl, O.G. Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, and of course Powell himself.
Surprisingly, the known commodity that is Powell has struggled to stay consistent throughout the first half of the season, and with his inconsistent level of play, his time on the floor has been constantly changing. The two players that have changed the way the Raptors play and have sparked the birth of one of the league’s best second unit, is the team’s point guard duo of Wright and undrafted sophomore, VanVleet.
The rest of the team sees it too.
“We’ve seen it since training camp, them two going out there playing together and the dynamic that they bring, the toughness that they bring,” DeMar DeRozan said of the two young guards. “We love it. We’ve got to come up with a nickname. I’m gonna come up with a nickname for Delon and Freddy, for sure.”
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 4, 2018
Aside from dismantling the Chicago Bulls with 25-points and 13-boards, Wright has averaged 12-points per game in his last eight contests, while shooting 53% from deep. His length has allowed him to become one of the best rebounding point guards in the league, while enabling him to defend multiple position. Wright’s defensive stats over this eight game span: 1.7-steals and 1.1-blocks per game.
““Oh yeah, it feels way different,” Wright said of his career night. “When I’m hitting shots I feel like they are pressuring me more, so I’m able to drive. I can just keep them off-balance…Norm (Powell) told me I had nine rebounds with six minutes left and after that I started stealing rebounds and stuff. It felt good to get some double-digit rebounds.”
On the season, the young duo has played off each other to provide the Raptors with a top-5 second unit in the NBA, while more importantly, providing Kyle Lowry with more time to rest. As the season goes on, the effective minutes that the duo continues to provide the team, will only allow the Raptors’s All-Star to be more healthy and explosive come playoff time.
“I think Delon’s versatility has helped me a lot in terms of us being able to play together,” VanVleet said Wednesday morning. “It’s not like you have to play one or the other. We are kind of interchangeable in that sense. Sometimes he is the first sub, the first backup off the bench, it depends on matchups. Sometimes he closes games. I think just his versatility has helped me . . . being able to play off the ball when he’s in the game.”
As the Raptors hope to get Powell to play at a more consistent pace, there is a sense of calm around the organization with the knowledge that this young Raptors duo will continuing holding down the fort