Amit Mann and Esfandiar Baraheni discuss the importance of Fred VanVleet hitting threes and how they can leverage his pick-and-roll with Jakob Poeltl more effectively in the second game vs. the Wizards. Listen to the full episode on the Wizards games, rotation tweaks and Jeff Dowtin Jr. on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.
AMIT MANN: Fred has to hit shots, though. He has to really, really hit shots.
ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: Yeah, I mean, look, this team this team is going to go as far as their former All-Star point guard is going to take them. I understand that Pascal Siakam is a massive part of this team, a huge part. He's their enigmatic star. Jakob Poeltl has came in and really revitalized that defense for the starting lineup. Bench questions be damned, so those guys are very important as well.
But in terms of how this offense works, I mean, even last night, Fred somehow ended up winning his minutes, despite the loss. I think that goes to show you the impact that the man could have, even despite the shooting. The shooting absolutely is crucial. He was awful last night from the field.
But you will really only go as far as he goes, and I think a lot of people, in the games that Fred was missing, kind of recognized how important Fred's creation was, his passing, his playmaking was, and I think that's key now, moving forward as well. I guess the question is just, like, hey, will he ever find that jumper back consistently?
Because, January, he was really good. Even the first couple of weeks of February, he was back on. The jumper was working. He was hitting his shots, and then the personal absence, and him being out, obviously, the birth of his child. He's back, and now the jumper isn't there again. So to find that rhythm again, again, in this very, very small amount of time, you've only got 19, 18 games, and we'll see what happens from here.
AMIT MANN: So I mentioned Gafford. His size is a problem in the pick and roll. I wonder if they should just, like, set in stone that they're going to set those screens a little bit higher, like, well beyond the 3-point line. That way, this creates a bit more space for Fred to, A, pull up from 3 if he wants to, and also, if you can get Jakob on the roll, he's so good around the rim. You just let him make a decision.
Also, there's more space now, just in the paint in general. And so if you have, like, an OG, or you've got Scottie in the dunker spot, or whatever, like, there's another avenue for some offense. I think that's a decent way to go about things. They need that pick and roll to work, right?
ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: Well, also, if you set that screen higher, you're now putting Gafford in a more precarious position, because he's now in more space, and he's like, I don't know how to maneuver this, whereas, if you start it a little bit lower, he's more comfortable in that drop scenario. Higher up, he's gonna have to deal with a lot more, and then Fred can kind of turn that corner, get him off the bounce, and then maybe get him on his hip.
So I think that's possible. I think that makes sense. That's a good adjustment to have. I think, more so than anything, though, is that they're creating good looks out of these short-roll opportunities with Jakob. You see it. You saw it against Chicago. You saw it against Washington last night. They were creating a lot of good looks.
Pick and roll, Jakob in the short roll. Now it's three on two, and now he can either kick it to the corner or find the guy in the dunker spot, which is usually either Pascal or OG. If you can figure that out, if you can really hone in on making those corner shots, right, and that goes to Gary, that goes to OG, that goes to Pascal, that goes to Scottie, then you're then you're working with something here. It all comes down to hitting shots, and then it's unfortunate to say, but it's a make-or-miss league, and the Raptors shot--
AMIT MANN: It's a make-or-miss league.
ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: Yeah, they shot 25%, or 26%, whatever it is, from 3 last night, so, yeah, it's tough to swallow. Sorry, yeah, 26% from three.
AMIT MANN: Yeah, don't shortchange them.