As the NBA trade deadline approaches, many fans will begin to nitpick their teams hoping to fill holes and have their squad eventually take the "next step."
For the Toronto Raptors, it's no secret that shooting may be an issue. As it sits right now, Toronto is 23rd in the league in 3-point percentage at 34%.
What's more alarming is that number drops to 31% in the clutch.
Danny Green is the only regular rotation player right now shooting north of 40% from the land beyond, and only Leonard, Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet are shooting over 35% on the season.
That may be enough shooting to get the Raptors to their goal of reaching the Finals, but it also may be their downfall - unless C.J. Miles can do something about it.
When Masai Ujiri signed the sharpshooter to a three-year, $25-million dollar deal in July of 2017, he did it with the need for floor spacers in mind. The season prior to arriving in Toronto, Miles shot 41% from three for the Indiana Pacers and was one of their key contributors off the bench.
Last season - Miles' first in Toronto - he averaged 10.0 points shooting 36% from three in 70 games.
This year, Miles has struggled to find his rhythm. His shot hasn't fallen and he's had to deal with some nagging injuries that may be the source of his shooting woes.
However, in the last four games, Miles has found the stroke that could be invaluable for Toronto down the stretch.
Miles is averaging 11.8 points in 15.5 minutes over the Raptors' last four outings, doing so on 50% shooting from three. While making half his 3-point attempts is an unrealistic expectation for him to continue over a longer stretch, watching the film on the looks he's now getting in the flow of the offence is what should excite Raptors fans.
These two plays from a game earlier in the season show how big of a shooter's slump Miles was in:
Both makeable looks and yet they were nowhere near falling.
Last week against the Phoenix Suns, the results were much better. The Raptors ran some great action here to get him an open look in rhythm, which he was able to knock down and kick off a good shooting night:
On Tuesday against the Sacramento Kings, Toronto ran action to once again get Miles a look. He missed the shot, but it's clear they're trying to get him in positions to be successful.
Where Miles has been hurting opponents with the long ball the most is in transition. When Miles gets early looks - between 22-18 seconds - he's shooting 50% from three.
The Raptors are in the top five in fast break points this season, averaging 18.5 per game. 75% of those fast break points, however, have been 2-pointers. Of the teams in the top five in transition scoring, only Oklahoma City has a higher percentage of 2-pointers on the break (83%) than Toronto.
If he can regain his shooting touch, Miles' ability to stop and pop in transition would make the Raptors even more deadly on the break.
Every playoff team can use shooting as we head towards the playoffs and finding it via trade may be tougher than ever. The Raptors may already have the answer to their shooting issues sitting in their locker room.
It's a small window, but the signs are there: Miles is getting healthier, more confident in his shot and the team is looking to find him looks where he can be successful. Miles also proved last year that he can produce in the playoffs for Toronto, as he was one of the few who shot the ball well in the sweep against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
If Toronto doesn't end up making a move at the deadline to improve the team's shooting, Raptors fans shouldn't panic - especially when help is already onboard.
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