Through two games, the Toronto Raptors look like a very good team. The Raptors are as tough as they have been, providing to be too tough for the Detroit Pistons and pushing the Cleveland Cavaliers to the brink. With that in mind however, the core issues that have plagued the team at times still appear to be present.
Seeing Jonas Valanciunas ride the bench until the very last few minutes of the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers was a disturbing sight. So was watching DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry revert to iso-ball when nothing else was there. However, as a Raptors fan, the biggest concern has to be with the lack of three point shooting on display.
Thus far, there has been 3 Raptors that have hit a three point shot – Patrick Patterson, Lowry, and DeMarre Carroll. Patterson has gotten quite a lot of clean looks, but is shooting 14% from deep. His woes are a continuation of poor shooting that dates back to last season’s playoffs, where Patterson struggled to find his range. Having 2Pat act as the stretch four is instrumental to the Raptors success when accounting for the lack of 3 point shooting DeRozan has.
Patterson’s struggles would be masked if the rest of the team clicked from deep. Lowry is shooting just 20% from range, and is looking to find his touch. I am not concerned with Kyle Lowry as he is a proven competitor that has shown time and time again that he is instrumental to the Raptors’ success even without his shooting touch, which will come back. DeMarre Carroll has hit a few threes and is shooting 40% from deep which is encouraging to see, but his offensive prowess and defensive quickness still isn’t where it needs to be at this point.
Finally, Terrence Ross, the team’s deadliest three point threat, hasn’t hit a single long range shot. After an encouraging preseason, Ross has had two extremely quiet games to start the season. This is frustrating as inconsistency is what has plagued Terrence Ross throughout his entire career. The tools are there for him to be the perfect compliment to DeRozan and Lowry. Perhaps it’s time to stop expecting Ross to blossom into the player we hope for, and accept the player that he is.
Ultimately, the sample size is extremely small and probably irrelevant -anyone who analyzes data on a regular basis would not even consider looking at a sample of two games. The point of this was more to acknowledge the concern that the Raptors still appear to lack three point shooting. Ross, Carroll, Patterson, and Lowry will all likely be consistent threats from three when it’s all said and done at the end of the season. However, with the three point shot being such a key strategic pillar in the new NBA, that might not be enough.