Title: Cory Joseph — and the Raptors — still looking for defensive consistency
Date: January 11, 2017
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I looked at the defensive struggles of Cory Joseph as a bellwether for the team’s struggles as a whole.
The Toronto Raptors have not been particularly good at defence so far this season. After ranking 11th in points allowed per-100 possessions a year ago, they’ve spent the bulk of the 2016-17 season oscillating between 16th and 21st. They’re allowing 3.7 points more per-100 opponent possessions, decidedly below-average, a concerning reality even with one of the league’s elite offences.
Points are points, but the ability to win at both ends of the floor and not just out-gun teams is an important one to possess. Teams want to be around the top 10 on either side of the ball, and Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has constantly trumpeted the need for improved defence, even in the face of a near-historical offensive output.
Even in securing an important win against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, the Raptors were only engaged defensively for key stretches, namely the first and fourth quarters. Some ebbs and flows are to be expected, but the inconsistencies in the team’s defence have been perhaps more frustrating than them just being outright bad – this team can defend better, and it’s something they’ve shown last year, and for sizeable stretches against quality competition at times this year.
Perhaps no player stands as a better example of the team’s defensive play than Cory Joseph.