Title: Murphy: Should Raptors set a precedent with Bench Mob in the playoffs?
Date: March 30, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I reflected on the success of the Raptors’ bench unit and why I was wrong that it wouldn’t work.
Had you told me in the preseason that the Toronto Raptors would be preparing for the playoffs fully intending to run all-bench lineups, I probably would have taken it poorly.
The Raptors employ both Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, and a major benefit of employing two stars is that their minutes can be staggered such that a team rarely has to play without at least one of them on the floor. Look at some of the most popular coaching criticisms in the NBA, and a failure to stagger key starters to help bloat bench units is consistent. It took Doc Rivers until late in the core’s era to better stagger Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan to maximize the value of having all three available. Billy Donovan has his reasons, but running lineups with none of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, or Steven Adams is risky. Frank Vogel may have extended this Raptors core’s window by opting not to adjust his rotation patterns in key playoff games.
For Toronto, the lessons were learned fairly on with this primary core. In Lowry and DeRozan, the Raptors have two complementary players, one of whom has thrived leading bench groups and the other who’s shown a consistent ability to play close to 40 minutes. It’s not difficult to come up with a rotation that balances their ability to play together while also making sure there’s always an elite offensive player on the floor.