Why the Jakob Poeltl trade was a success

Imman Adan and Oren Weisfeld discuss why the acquisition of Jakob Poeltl was a smart move by the Raptors. The full episode on modern NBA offences can be found on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.

Video Transcript

OREN WEISFELD: And I want to say about the Poeltl trade-- because I keep seeing people go, I can't believe they bought at the deadline. Like there is this idea of buying versus selling at the deadline. I think we need to, like, kind of change those ideas in our head.

Because they obviously didn't buy Poeltl just for this season. They bought Poeltl because they needed a-- at the end of the day, they needed a starting center some way, long-term. And they marked Poeltl as their guy. And i just don't know how you can look at that trade, look at how well Poeltl's played, look at how well he's even fit with the starters, and be like, oh my god, this front office is cooked, which is the general sentiment.


OREN WEISFELD: It's like, to me, I understand there's fit issues. And I'm not sure if it's going to work long-term. But Poeltl on itself-- a first-round pick for Poeltl, he's been amazing since becoming a Raptor. Like, a legitimately top, I don't know, 12 center in the league. Like, he is playing at such a high level that I just can't be that mad about it.

IMMAN ADAN: And, you know, I said this, and I wrote about this as well. To me, it-- I agree with you entirely about it's not about buying or selling for just this season. I mentioned it at the top of the pod, where the Raptors have to look at Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent, Jr. and decide if that is-- if this is a core that they want to keep together long-term.

And in my opinion, you cannot bet on this core until you give them the pieces around them to actually fully maximize them. Right? In the same way, you need to make sure that DeMar, with a 3 and D wing right next to him still doesn't work, you need to try that out with Pascal and Fred. Because it's only fair to sort of give them those same opportunities that you gave to Kyle and DeMar.

And to me, you couldn't really say that this core is a failure until you gave them a center. And until you gave them-- so I think some play-making off the bench matters as well. And some more shooting on the team, too.

So to me, it's like you need to truly believe that this core doesn't make sense together before you tear it down. It's not fair to not give them that leeway. It's not fair to give them that rope, and then try to decide if you want to pay Fred his next contract. Which, spoiler alert, I think they should. And so to me, it just-- like, I always sort of saw it in that way.

It's the same sort of rope that was given to Kyle and DeMar. But it's just 23 or 24 games, or however many games from the trade deadline it was, for Jakob Poeltl. And also, there's been a lot-- and I think I've talked about this on here as well. But there's been a lot of talk about, like, well, it's a first-round pick, and you don't know.

Like, maybe you blow this core up. Maybe it doesn't work. Maybe it doesn't make sense.

And it's not really hard to course-correct. Right? It's not really-- we saw what the packages were for OG Anunoby. We know what the packages are for, like, a Pascal Siakam.

If in the end you say, actually, this team does not work, we gave them their runway, we put all the pieces around them and it has not paid off, you're-- like, these are not bad contracts to trade. These are not difficult pieces to move. And so a 2024 pick, which by all accounts right now is a pick to trade, based off of what experts are saying, is fine.

I think it's a low-risk move. And in terms of selling, Masai's never really done that at the deadline. He's only ever added pieces to his team. Because as he says, 29 losers at the end of the season, much easier to assess and make deals then.

It's always fun to sort of rant about why this team should stay together, because I think it's better to be a little bit more optimistic about this team. I think there's reason to be. And you mentioned it. The talent.

But there's also reason to worry about this team. And my biggest worry is the bench. I think you said at the top that-- a couple of things that you said that I want to bring up here.

First thing is that there aren't very many-- in today's NBA, bench players are not specialists in one area. They have to sort of be good across the board. The Raptors are one of those teams where you struggle to look at the bench and see well-rounded players.


IMMAN ADAN: You start to see very much specialists in each category. And I think that we've seen them-- we've seen that hurt them with a lot of the bench play this season. Do you have any thoughts about something like that?

OREN WEISFELD: No, that's a good point. I'll definitely give you that. I will say, though, their bench-- especially now that they made this change in the starting lineup, their bench is super young.


OREN WEISFELD: When you look at Precious, Gary, they're both 23. Koloko, he's, like, 21. You know, sometimes Jeff Dowtin. Sometimes Malachi plays.

Like, their bench is extremely young. So I agree, they are right now very one-dimensional players. The front office, like we just talked about, is much more patient than the fan base.

So I do think if you ask them, they would say, yes, they are. But two years from now, they're not going to be. And that's when we want to contend. The idea is that eventually, the bench will be a little bit more versatile, just through those guys growing.

And I definitely believe with, like, Achiuwa, for example, this is about the worst we've ever seen him play. He's going to be better than this. He's going to develop. We've seen him develop over the last year.

And look, we can talk about all these solutions to fix the bench, and we will. But at the end of the day, Gary and Precious are better players than this. They have to play better.


OREN WEISFELD: It's not a Nick Nurse issue. It's-- like, these two guys chose the worst time of this season to start slumping. They need to get their act together and just play better.