John Lucas III is absolutely awful- there is no other way to put it. I’ll admit that there was some excitement bringing in a player from the Chicago Bulls who hit some big shots last year, but in his run with the Toronto Raptors, Lucas has been horrendous. A shoot happy point guard with a lack of court vision should not be getting over 5 minutes a game, yet Dwane Casey gives him run every game. I understand that Kyle Lowry is out, and Jose Calderon cannot play 48 minutes a game, however Casey has to be creative in this case. Using Terrence Ross at point guard may be an option- he’s shown solid handles and could be a stopgap until Lowry is back.
The thing that continuously kills the Raptors is their bench line-up. As soon as the starters come off the court, there is a huge drop-off in play, and this is due to Casey’s ‘group’ rotations method. Simply put, DeMar DeRozan or Andrea Bargnani have to be on the court at all times as there has to be constant production throughout the game so big runs don’t continuously sink this team. In their loss to the Boston Celtics today, the Raptors were right there until a putrid bench line-up allowed the Celtics to go on a big run to close the 3rd quarter. The Raps didn’t even try to come back, as DeRozan sat the whole 4th quarter. In the end, they lost 89-107 yet this wasn’t a fair representation of the game, as the Raptors bench got just as much playing time as the starters.
Ultimately, this team needs a scoring punch off bench- re-signing Leandro Barbosa would have been perfect. However, at this point, it looks like the Raptors will have to acquire someone via trade to beef up the bench, because its current state is unacceptable. Re-adding Jose Calderon to the bench will help as well, but a swing-man who can score would be ideal.
The Raptors schedule starts to soften up, which should give them a chance to claw back to .500. The next four games are very winnable, and they need to go on a run, or Bryan Colangelo has to do something, fast, or this season could be another forgettable one.
Follow me on Twitter @Thesachman and ‘Like’ Raptors Cage on Facebook for more updates.