Watching the Toronto Raptors this season was like watching Barack Obama’s first debate. They have been lifeless, sloppy and out of sync.
The question of how to get out of this slump has sparked much debate. Ideas ranging from trading Andrea Bargnani to firing head coach Dwayne Casey or general manager Bryan Colangelo have been raised. The consensus, though, is that none of these bold ideas are anything more than gambles.
It is just not known whether or not there is a magical fix for the Toronto Raptors.
However, the Raptors still must immediately try to improve. This effort should start with correcting the team's two most obvious flaws as demonstrated in this nascent season.
1) Unimaginative Coaching
The Raptors have been out-coached at the end of several close games. We have seen David West single-handedly carry Indiana's offense in the season opener and Tony Parker score at will in overtime during the San Antonio game. Dwayne Casey seems too timid to make any big tactical changes on the fly. This must stop. He must be more unconventional, take more risks and be harder for opposing teams to plan against.
The Raptors have also made very few lineup changes so far this season. One would think a 4-17 team would be trying different lineups and tactics each game. Every potential lineup alteration, from playing Terrence Ross at the starting shooting guard to benching Andrea Bargnani, should be tested. For a team that cannot play consistently there is a consistent rigidness in the coaching staff’s thinking.
2) A Culture of Entitlement
Do the Raptors need better talent or better tactics?
Yes, this point is mainly about Andrea Bargnani. Raptor fans are sick of watching Casey and Colangelo treat Bargnani like he is Kobe Bryant. The mindset for every game should be simple: The players playing the best should get the most minutes.
Toronto's undeserved loyalty to Bargnani hurts the Raptors in both the short and long-terms. In the short-term the Raptors suffer low percentage scoring and poor defense. In the long-term it will create an inadequate basketball culture. Young players like Jonas Valanciunas and Ed Davis won’t be motivated to play high intensity and high IQ basketball if they lose their minutes to Bargnani anyway.
For the Raptors to get better they must enforce the merit-based culture they claim to have.