Title: How will the Raptors replace Kawhi Leonard’s offensive usage?
Date: September 27, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about how the Raptors may approach the challenge of replacing Kawhi Leonard’s offense in 2019-20.
The reigning, defending, undisputed, dynasty-toppling NBA champion Toronto Raptors may not be as balanced as they were a season ago. On their way to a title, the Raptors were both a very good offence and a very good defence, grading in the top six on each side of the ball. Slowing three of the league’s best offences became a hallmark of their championship run, while the offence at times lagged behind, a harbinger for their first season in a post-Kawhi Leonard world.
There are plenty of ways the Raptors can look to improve their offence in Leonard’s stead. As explored this week, though, it will be a taller task than on the defensive end, where there are more natural options to assume Leonard’s role and where his impact was less pronounced. As noted in that piece, the Raptors scored 7.9 points per 100 possessions more with Leonard on the court in the regular season and 21 more in the playoffs. Danny Green’s absence is more of a blend across both sides of the ball, but the absence of his shooting and the spacing that created for others will be obvious from the outset.
Nick Nurse’s toughest – and most fun – challenge will be coaxing an above average offence out of a group that’s been built on a foundation of a high defensive floor. It will rely on a blend of young players thriving in larger roles and older veterans expanding theirs. What follows is a look at some of the questions Nurse will have to navigate as he designs his offensive attack.