NBA: 5 Biggest and most telling pre-season takeaways

NBA San Antonio Spurs Victor Wembanyama (Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports)
NBA San Antonio Spurs Victor Wembanyama (Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Scottie Barnes
Scottie Barnes (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports) /

The new and improved Toronto Raptors?

After moving on from Nick Nurse and questions arising in the offseason about selfishness within the organization, the Toronto Raptors entered this season with relatively low expectations. They finished the preseason 4-0 and as the only undefeated team.

Led by first-time head coach Darko Rajaković, the Toronto Raptors have adopted a new defensive philosophy. Last year and in years prior, the Raptors adopted a switch-heavy defense because they had the personnel, 6 -foot-8 and 6-foot-9 athletic wings.

This season has been different. Darko and the Raptors are actively avoiding switches in pick-and-roll actions, relying on drop coverage or at-the-level defense and using that length to rotate behind the play.

Even with Jakob Poeltl missing multiple games with an illness, the Raptors still continued not to switch on defense, even with a much lighter Chris Boucher starting at center. In their three games against NBA competition, the Raptors held their opponents to 98, 99, and 102 points.

The offense is still a work in progress, especially with the outside shooting still being a concern, but the Raptors may have found something with Scottie Barnes playing more in the low post. As for right now, their defense is their offense and if they can continue to get stops and force turnovers, they will be fine on that end.