Raptors players have to show a return on front office investment

Imman Adan and Jevohn Shepherd look at the Raptors' recent additions and how it helps the team be more versatile. Also, why the players have to hold up their end of the bargain. Full episode is on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.

Video Transcript

IMMAN ADAN: I completely agree with that. I just want to mention that last week, I wrote a piece for Yahoo Sports Canada. And a couple of things that I was talking about were what the team really needs to pay attention to in these last 20, however many games.

And so to me, these games against the Wizards, and these games against the Bulls and teams that you are competing against, play-in or not, these are sort of do or die moments, play-in or not. Like, in order for this core to be believed in moving on to next year, you have to see that you're able to compete against these teams that you're battling with.

And if you truly believe that you're better than them, and it seems like the front office does by trading a first round pick next season, you kind of have to come out and win. Like, to me, it's just like you have to come out and take these games. These games matter in terms of what this core looks like.

And the other thing that I mentioned in the piece was the idea that, like, what is versatility? We talk about versatility as though it's just a bunch of 6' 9" guys who can switch every position and guard everything. But really, to me, versatility is about malleability. And that's what we're seeing with what this Raptors team has.

They can go big with Jakob Poeltl in there. And they can go small, as they did to close out that Bulls game. And that's why I sort of give them an edge over some of these other play-in teams is because if you're in the play-in, you're flawed in some way that you're constructed.

The Raptors are in the play-in because they're flawed in some way that they were constructed by just being able to go small, and not being able to match up with some of the bigger bodies. But now, you've changed that. So you have to show that you are a cut above this other team, and not just stuck in the play-in range with the Wizards, and the Bulls, and the Hawks, and whoever else.

JEVOHN SHEPHERD: Yeah, I think this last lap of the season, you show some promise, you show some progress, you show that you've improved from that first 3/4 of the season with the moves that you've made, right? Obviously, the fan base here grew impatient, I think a bit prematurely, into the season. But you also had Masai and Bobby that went on the line, and pretty much put their necks on the line for this team that they believe in right here--


JEVOHN SHEPHERD: --and said, OK, we're not making major moves, one, for the fact that there's 20 other--

IMMAN ADAN: Jakob Poeltl's perfect already.

JEVOHN SHEPHERD: Right. He's perfect already. He's one of our own. Now, we actually have the team that we envisioned, right?

If you look, you're bringing back Poeltl. There's only Precious that's one of the guys that-- an outside guy, drafted, or Gary as well. But these, the core guys here are who we envisioned. We have that back. So you've got to give that some time there.

But they went on the line, they put their necks on the line for the group that they believe in. Those guys have got to give them something as well, you know? You have 29 other teams in the season that you don't want to make a knee-jerk reaction and just make a temporary change that's only going to be a Band-Aid and not a long-term play, if you're a front office, right?

And I think Bobby and Masai did a great job with that, that subtle change. They've shown improvements up until this point.


JEVOHN SHEPHERD: Well, from a team standpoint, you've got to give something back now. And then you get to the end of the season, those guys, it's either we've shown improve-- we've impressed our fan base, we've impressed ourselves, we've impressed our front office. And if not, then they have a bigger pool to play with, 29 other teams that were all-- and like Masai says, there's 29 other teams that have lost at that point--


JEVOHN SHEPHERD: --that are losers at that point. So everybody else is a bit more aggressive in their movements with their teams. So you've bought time. You've gotten trust from your front office.

And that's a bold move, right? That's a very bold move. They've said, we trust you guys. Are you guys-- what is the return on our investment?

IMMAN ADAN: And that's exactly in my piece, guys. Go check it out on Yahoo Sports Canada. Jevohn Shepherd, thank you so much for joining.