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NBA Toronto Raptors Jakob Poeltl and Lucas Nogueira

Raptors Turn To Poeltl Power When Things Get Stagnant

In an unexpected turn of events, it’s been third year backup center Lucas Nogueira being bumped out of the rotation since the All-Star break and rookie Jakob Poeltl getting the nod when the Raptors are short-handed or things have gone stagnant for head coach Dwane Casey.

“I think most of it is me feeling more comfortable,” Poeltl told Pro Bball Report. “The experience that comes with every single game, you learn new stuff, figure out how to move around on the court better. I’ve been playing a lot more, so increasingly it’s going to get easier I think.

“It’s all about trying to figure out a way to get it done and I’m definitely not the most physical guy at my position, but there are other ways around it. You still got to play physical and use your other strengths.”

Casey was giving his rookie center some minutes before the All-Star break, getting into about half the games and averaging 10.8 minutes, 2.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, but where Nogueira was a +/- of +3.9 points in his time on the court, Poeltl was an inexperienced -0.7 points.

However, since the break, with Serge Ibaka soaking up extra minutes at center and Poeltl and Nogueira reversing roles in the rotation, Poeltl has been a +0.9 averaging 4 points and 3.4 rebounds in 12.3 minutes with only 2 DNP-CDs. Nogueira is a -0.6 in a dramatically reduced role.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. Nogueira had been playing some of the best ball of his short NBA career and getting a lot of very productive run. A five-man lineup of Lowry, DeRozan, Carroll, Nogueira and Valanciunas had a net rating of +14.3 in 108 minutes and Lowry, Joseph, Ross, Patterson and Nogueira was a +15.4 net rating in 199 minutes.

Nogueira is in the fourth and fifth best five-man units the Raptors have put out there this season, however, the eye test and obviously in coach Casey’s opinion, Nogueira still has mental lapses and makes too many mistakes. Poeltl, on the other hand, gets nothing but praise.

“He’s always in the right place, very few mistakes, he’s very physical, he’s not afraid, he loves contact,” Casey said about Poeltl. “All those things add up, this is a physical game and he meets all those criteria.

“For me, just every time you put him in, he does something positive.”

While Poeltl has expressed concerns about his ability to be physical, compared to Nogueira, he’s a beast and any lack of physicality in Poeltl’s game rests solely in his own expectations of himself. Somehow, someway, he gets to the ball and opponents’ aren’t pushing him out of position. Averaging 8.2 fouls per 48 minutes since the break, Poeltl hasn’t been shy about being physical.

“As long as it’s not a bad foul, I don’t have a problem with getting three or four fouls a game,” Poeltl said. “If I use my fouls in a good way, not giving up and-ones, dumb fouls to send them to the line.”

It’s all about fitting in for Poeltl. Knowing his role and getting the job done.

“It’s not always about me getting more comfortable. It’s also about me developing a chemistry with my teammates on offense and on defense. Once you start playing with these guys more and more, you figure out how they’re playing and how you can play together.”

While it wasn’t expected that the rookie would be getting extra minutes at center after the All-Star break or Nogueira would lose his spot in the rotation, the move has been positive for the Raptors. Poeltl has tied his career best 12 points in a game three-times since the break and more often than not, he’s come into games and had an immediate positive impact.

He is a guy Casey can turn to when the Raptors get stagnant or lack energy on either end of the court.

 

  

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Jakob Poeltl

Raptors Rookie Center Jakob Poeltl Doesn’t Make Mistakes

By Frank McLean

On a team with deep playoff aspirations, rookies and young players in general often get nailed to the bench because they just make too many mistakes, but Raptors rookie center Jakob Poeltl may be one of the exceptions as he has cracked head coach Dwane Casey’s rotation post All-Star break.

“He’s always in the right place, very few mistakes, he’s very physical, he’s not afraid, he loves contact,” Casey said. “All those things add up, this is a physical game and he meets all those criteria.”

Back on draft night in June the Toronto Raptors had two picks in the first round. Their own and the ninth pick overall which they got from the New York Knicks in a deal that sent Andrea Bargnani to Broadway. However, with the Raptors coming off a season where they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history the thought was, what did they need with a draft pick? The need was for a veteran power forward to put them over the top.

With that ninth pick they found a seven foot center out of the University of Utah named Jakob Poeltl. Poeltl became an answer to a trivia question that night as he became the first Austrian born player in the history of the NBA.
The thought was Poeltl would be on the QEW highway shuttle between the Air Canada Centre and Mississauga playing most of his time with Jerry Stackhouse`s Raptors 905.

But with Jared Sullinger going down in the first preseason game with a foot injury Poeltl was able to get some minutes at the start of the season at power forward, but he eventually his lost his minutes to the Raptors other first round pick Pascal Siakam and found a spot on the bench.

Poeltl didn`t let it discourage him. He kept learning. It didn`t matter if he was on the bench, working extra reps in practice, or playing for the 905ers. He kept trying to get better.

It paid off this month with Poeltl taking Lucas Nogueira’s spot in the rotation and making a big contribution to team that is missing a big chunk of their offence without Kyle Lowry’s 23 points and seven assists a game.

Since the All-Star break, Poeltl has played in 11 games averaging 11 minutes, 2.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.5 blocks and coach Dwane Casey has no issues bringing the rookie into the game.

“For me, just every time you put him in, he does something positive,” Casey was saying the other day at practice. “There’s that trust, not only with myself but with his teammates. He’s doing positive things. He plays with physicality. The only thing, and it’s not his fault, is cheap fouls, he gets a lot of cheap calls.”

Of course rookies in the NBA don`t get any love from the officials as the NBA is run like a feudal system where you have to earn your way up the respect ladder with the refs.

When you talk to Poeltl, playing the physical style of game that is demanded of professional basketball was the hardest thing to get adjusted to.

“Not now, not anymore, because I feel like I’m used to it already,” Poeltl said. “I’m still not the most physical player, but at least I’ve got adjusted to the new level of physicality in the NBA. But that was definitely a challenge to start the season, getting used to playing against bigger bodies and stronger guys.”

Poeltl has natural basketball instincts. His parents were athletes but roundball wasn`t their game, volleyball was.

“I don’t know,” Poeltl said. “I mean, I guess both my parents were athletes, I was always in love with sports in general, I was like playing around, playing basketball as a little kid. But it’s really just instincts. I don’t know where it’s coming from, I just feel comfortable out there and I feel like I know where I’m supposed to go.”

Regardless of where his natural instincts came from, the Raptors are just happy to have drafted him last June. His play of late has been a big help allowing the team to have a trusted back-up when Jonas Valanciunas needs a break.

Rookies don`t generally make an impact on a veteran playoff team, but this Austrian trailblazer has been the exception this month.

 

  

DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

  Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

NBA D-League Mississauga Raptors 905 Jakob Poeltl

Raptors Jakob Poeltl Has Monster Double-Double In 905 Debut

It took him almost the entire first quarter to shake off the rust (or get adjusted to the speed?), but Toronto Raptors rookie center Jakob Poeltl put together a monster 21 point 15 rebound double-double in his NBA D-League debut with the Mississauga Raptors 905.

The 905 (3-0) was unbeaten heading into the game against the high scoring Maine Red Claws (4-2) and they gave up 31 points in the opening quarter as the Claws went 6-13 from deep with seven different players attempting a three-point shot. By the time it was over, the visitors had hoisted 32 long bombs and handed the 905 their first loss 100-91.

Poeltl looked a little lost to start the game, getting pushed around under the basket by smaller players and struggling to get out to big men hovering around the three-point line. He shot just 1-4 from the field and his team was a -8 points, but he was about to find his footing and by the end of this game, he was the only 905 starter with a positive plus/minus rating.

As the game progressed Poeltl got stronger in the post, muscling his way to the basket for layups and rebounds. He shot 8-14 after that rough first quarter.

The other two players assigned to the 905 by Toronto were Bruno Caboclo and Fred VanVleet. VanVleet led the 905 in scoring with 23 points on 9-21 shooting, but his team was -9 points with him on the court. Caboclo had a rough outing, shooting 1-6 from the field for 2 points to go with 4 rebounds, a block and a -11 plus/minus rating.

 

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Norman Powell

Stuff Happens To The Raptors Powell, Siakam And Poeltl

By Frank McLean

The Toronto Raptors they were hoping the Celtics free agent big man Jared Sullinger could fill the one hole they had in their starting line-up, but sometimes in sports, just like in life, circumstances play a big part into how your lot with a team is going to go. Like the T-shirt says, “Stuff Happens”.

In the case of four different players on the current Raptors roster the “stuff” that has happened since the start of the off season has affected them good and bad.

First you have to feel sorry for power forward Jared Sullinger who signed a one year six-million dollar contract in the summer in the hopes of parlaying that into a long term mega-deal as an unrestricted free agent next summer just like Bismack Biyombo did.

Sullinger and bad luck hit smack on in the Raptors first preseason game when he landed on the foot of one of his teammates and will be out of the line-up till around the All-Star break. However, bad luck for Sullinger has turned into an unexpected opportunity for rookie forward Pascal Siakam.

Drafted 27th overall in the first round out of New Mexico State the rookie is getting a chance to start games and bring an element of his game, speed.

“Speed is a great advantage to have,” Siakam said. “As a big man being able to run the floor I think a lot of big men don’t do that. The fact that I can do that on a consistent basis is great. I’m just trying to use all my advantages and be able to help my team win.”

As a result of Siakam’s success a major contributor from last season’s playoff run, Norman Powell, has become a forgotten man. Powell says he just has to keep working hard and earn head coach Dwane Casey’s trust.

“I trust Norm,” Casey said. “It’s not about trust. It’s about it being hard to play 11 or 12 guys. It’s not trust at all. Hell I trusted him in the first round of the playoffs last year as a rookie, so it’s not about trust.

“It’s just he has a guy like DeMar DeRozan in front of him on a hot streak and DeMarre Carroll who is our defensive guy who is healthy now so it’s a tough situation for him to be in. Then there’s Terrence (Ross) shooting the ball the way he is shooting, so he’s got a triple-headed monster he’s fighting against.”

Meanwhile at center the Raptors other first round pick Jakob Poeltl is getting a chance to play some quality minutes because the Raptors did not re-sign Bismack Biyombo this past summer.

This past Sunday he got a chance to start against Sacramento with Jonas Valanciunas out with a knee bruise. He got a quick lesson in how to deal with big centers in the NBA. In this case DeMarcus Cousins.

“It’s like every other game,” Poeltl said about the Sacramento game. “Learn from it, watch what we did, what we did wrong, and try and improve that. Obviously, it was far from a perfect game from us today and from me personally, too. So look at it and try to learn from it.”

As you can see circumstances have changed the complexion of the Toronto Raptors line-up and with the playoffs not until the middle of April you can be sure that more “stuff” will happen to change the line-up a few more times.

 

 

DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

 

 

 


 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Jakob Poeltl

Raptors Center Jakob Poeltl Doesn’t Look Like A Rookie

Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey just wants his two rookie big men to stay in their lane and that’s more than enough with DeMar DeRozan going off for 30 points every single night this season, but Jakob Poeltl has been coming into games with the second unit and making an impact. He providing the Raptors with a lot more than just 15 minutes of rest for Jonas Valanciunas, he’s playing big and doing more than his share on the glass.

“It’s just a mindset of mine,” Poeltl told Pro Bball Report. “I know that as a five man that most of the time I’ve got an opponent that’s going to crash the glass especially against me as a rookie big man they are going to try and pound it in. So I am trying to take my man out and let maybe one of my teammates grab the rebound who has nobody to box out. If it falls in my area , I’m going to try and get it. A defensive rebound is a team rebound thing. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter who gets it, it’s just we’re supposed to get it and not them.”

Poeltl is third in rookie rebounding at 5 per game in just 15.7 minutes of action. He’s hauling in boards at an 18.7 percent of available rebounds clip that’s only a few tenths off what Valanciunas is doing and good enough to be top 25 in the NBA among all players. He’s also fourth among rookies in blocks.

That’s the lane Casey has assigned him to and it’s quickly become apparent the Raptors aren’t suffering on the glass when Valanciunas is subbed out.

Poeltl (2.8 points/game) isn’t providing the offense that Valanciunas (13.8 points) does and at this point in his career he’s not expected to, but his team isn’t missing the points from the center spot all that badly when he’s on the court. Poeltl has a Raptors fifth best plus/minus of +3.2 points vs Valanciunas at +4.4 points and both his offensive rating (108) and defensive rating (97.1, net rating +10.9) are better than Valanciunas (net rating +6.8) – acknowledging Valanciunas is primarily playing against starters and Poeltl sees a lot of his time against backups.

“It gets easier every single time I’m out there, with every minute,” Poeltl said. “Today and also the last game, I felt pretty comfortable already.

“I am still in the process of learning the whole game, but with little steps it gets better and better.”

The Raptors acquired Poeltl with the 9th pick of the 2016 NBA Draft thanks to the Knicks trading for Andrea Bargnani in 2013 and tossing in a potential future Lottery Pick. It isn’t often a team that goes to the Conference Final gets a pick this high in the draft and it’s been paying off big time in Toronto.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Bismack Biyombo and DeMar DeRozan

Biyombo Who? Raptors Rookies Wipe Out Any Rebounding Concerns

The Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri magic touch has been showing itself off early on again this season as rookies Pascal Siakam and Jacob Poeltl are quickly making everyone forget all about the departure of their best rebounder last season Bismack Biyombo.

With injuries to Jared Sullinger and Lucas Nogueira, the rookies were thrust into the rotation ahead of schedule and at this point, it would be hard to conclude anything but they deserve to be there.

Casey was forced to start Siakam in order to keep the veteran Patrick Patterson in his comfort zone coming off the bench and the energetic forward has filled in nicely averaging 4 points on 66.7 percent shooting, 6 rebounds and a steal in 18.5 minutes over his first two games. It’s starting to look like Ujiri isn’t going to be forced into any rush to bring back Sullinger or something else more desperate. When Nogueira went down,  Poeltl was the next man up at backup center and he’s averaged 4.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 12 minutes and is starting to look like he just belongs out there. Nogueira has been the odd man out in each of his two previous seasons and if he doesn’t get back soon, he’ll be the odd man out again this year.

“We (Siakam and Poeltl) got our roles and we know our roles and what we are supposed to do,” Siakam told Pro Bball Report. “I think the team knows what I can give them and that’s what I am going to try to give every night.

“I think that I am a pretty good rebounder. Whenever I get an opportunity I will try to go for the ball and with me playing, I will have more opportunity to rebound the basketball, that is always one of my assets.”

Biyombo was a big time contributor off the bench last season averaging 5.5 points, 8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 22 minutes as he pulled in an impressive 20.8 percent of the available boards while he was on the court. However, the rookie Poeltl is absorbing 19.8 percent of the available rebounds so far and his first two games were against solid playoff teams and Siakam has been dramatically upping the rebounding impact from the power forward spot at 17.1 percent. It’s a small sample size, but Toronto doesn’t look like a team that is going to lose the battle of the boards very often because they are relying on a couple of rookies.

“(Siakam) is a good rebounder and he played well,” a frustrated Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy said after the season opener.

So far this season Toronto has outrebounded their opposition by  an NBA 4th best 11 boards each game and that included the home opening win over Detroit and last season’s top rebounder Andre Drummond. It’s worth pointing out the Raptors two rookies are averaging 10.5 boards between them. Last year Toronto finished the season a solid 7th best +2.6 boards.

The next big test for the Raptors rebounding prowess is going to come on Halloween night when they face off against the glass cleaning Nuggets at the Air Canada Center. Denver has been crushing opponents on the boards by a +20.5 rebound margin to start the season.  Big men Nikola Jokic (12 rebounds), Kenneth Faried (11.5 rebounds) and Jusif Nurkic (9 rebounds) doing most of the heavy lifting.  Toronto’s rookies are in for another real challenge.

Now if only someone could block a shot for the Raptors? Although, the blocked shot differential is currently zero.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini

 

 

 


 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Jakob Poeltl 2016

Raptors Jakob Poeltl Highlights And Workouts

The Toronto Raptors were justifiably excited to land a traditional skilled big man in Jakob Poeltl with the ninth pick of the 2016 NBA Draft. Coming from Austria to play US college basketball, Poeltl didn’t know what to expect and he kind of surprised himself. Soon, he’ll be surprising a lot of other people.

 

Nice post moves.

 

Note the jump shot!

 
Great sense of humor.

 

A must see video (on youtube only) of 2015 3rd overall NBA draft pick Jahlil Okafor vs college rookie Jakob Poeltl

 

 

 


NBA Toronto Raptors Jakob Poetl

Raptors Get Their Man In Jakob Poeltl

By Frank McLean

The Toronto Raptors got the guy they wanted in the NBA draft Thursday night. With the ninth pick in the first round they took a seven foot Austrian named Jakob Poeltl.

Pronounced (Ya-hib Pert-l) his name is going be a nightmare for radio and television sports casters, but at forward, he is what the team is looking for.

He has spent the last two years playing at the University of Utah, and in 2014-15 he was a teammate of current Raptors guard Delon Wright.

He is a power forward and center. In his two years playing in the Pac-12 Conference he averaged 13.3 points a game, eight rebounds and one assist.

This past season he was the winner of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar award given to the top center in the NCAA.

In a conference call with the Toronto media, Wright gave Poeltl a glowing job reference and said he is a player.

“He was legit before he came to Utah,” Wright said. “When he came to Utah he could pick and roll. A lot of big guys can’t pick and roll hard, but he can hard and he’s got great hands.

“When he came to Utah he was learning English, but he could speak a little. He’s a guy that jokes around, a great teammate and a very hard worker.”

The hard work part is what you have to do stay on a Dwane Casey team. What impresses Casey is that he is schooled in the fundamentals.

When asked in Brooklyn at the draft about getting to play with Wright, Poeltl was excited to have a friend in already in the 416.

“I’m super stoked about that”, Poeltl said. “It’s so great to know that I’m already going to have somebody there that I know that’s my friend, and I talked to him a lot throughout this process and he’s told me only good things about Toronto. It’s like an unbelievable feeling right now.”

About being a Raptor Poeltl told Casey that he knew about the team and that he watched them in the playoffs. That was something that impressed Casey as well as his knowledge of the entire NBA.

“I’m so excited that the Toronto Raptors put their trust in me,” Poeltl added. “I think I can be a guy who’s out there always fighting, always trying to get better. I think I’m far from done being a player like I can improve a lot I feel like, and I hope I can help out this organization these next couple years. ”

“He is an excellent basketball player,” Casey said. “Fundamentally sound, he needs to get used to the NBA game, speed and quickness. His foot speed is quicker than JV’s (Jonas Valanciunas) was at his age.”

Casey and the Raptors front office saw that speed first hand on June 17th when they traveled down to Buffalo, New York to work him out.

Poeltl is in the United States on a student visa. There was no problem with him entering Canada, but he could not re-enter the United States, thus forcing the trip to the Chicken Wing capital of the USA.

In a year where there wasn’t one player that came out of college and jumps out at you as the first pick, the Raptors got a player at position, power forward, that they need.

It’s safe pick and he has the best chance of not failing at the NBA level where some scouts fear that Ben Simmons and Buddy Hield could end up as big time flops.

Casey did confirm that GM Masai Ujiri was working the phones all day trying to move up in the draft, but as it worked out, they got their guy when the it came time to make their choice at number nine.

Poeltl also plays center, so with the possible departure of Bismack Biyombo, he could fill a void there as well.

This pick could turn out to be a quiet steal and another feather in the cap of GM Masai Ujiri.

 

 

DeMar DeRozan & Frank McLeanVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.