The Toronto Raptors splurged on playoff seasoned point guard Cory Joseph last offseason and the second unit dynamo has made general manger Masai Ujiri’s investment justifiable. Toronto might have had the inside track in acquiring Joseph, a native of the city, but on a four-year, $29.89 million deal, he has excelled in spurts-thrust into an important role on the team.

Spelling All-Star Kyle Lowry, Joseph was a dependable asset off the bench in the regular season-averaging 8.5 PPG and 3.1 APG. Joseph was a model of consistency and durability, playing the third-most minutes on the Raptors roster in the 2015-16 season. The Canadian was a vital contributor off the bench and was a heavily featured cog in the Raptors’ 56 wins this season, but he’s amplified his production in the postseason.

Nurtured and thriving in San Antonio’s profitable rotation for four seasons, Joseph isn’t naïve to playoff action. He’s played in 41 postseason games prior to the 2015-16 season and his efficiency, through the first four games against Indiana (11.0 PPG, 2.5 APG, 61.5 field goal percentage), could be linked to experience.

However, Saturday was a dud for Joseph. Poor decision-making, errant passes and offensive ineptitude played a part in the 100-83 Game 4 loss. Joseph only attempted two shots, but went scoreless with no assists totaled. However, his struggles weren’t accentuated with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan looking incompetent as starters.

Lowry (15.5 PPG, 32.2 percent FG%) and DeMar Derozan (13.3 PPG, 29.6 percent FG%) have disappointed for Toronto, with their talent being trumped by inconsistency. Shooting a combined 8-of-27 in Game 4’s debacle, they compounded their offensive ineptitude with nine turnovers collectively.

Joseph also contributed to the turnover party with three of his own, but there was immense pressure to become the efficient backup that he was in the first three games of the series. Opening the game on a 28-14 run, Indy blitzed Toronto’s starters and their desire to tie the series up at two games was evident.

Joseph isn’t the type of point guard that singlehandedly initiates an intense comeback, operating at a methodical pace with the ball. Joseph understands his fit with the team and how he can optimally translate his abilities into success.

“This is the NBA, everyone can’t go out there with the same role, it’s not going to work,” Joseph said, per “You have to adapt and you have to adapt each game. You have to know your role, your part on the team and that builds chemistry.”

His acumen as the backup point guard continues to evolve, but Saturday’s loss didn’t highlight it. However, unlike Lowry and DeRozan, Joseph has found ways to challenge the Indiana defense. Sporting a respectable 22.3 PER through three games, Joseph has to continue to beat Indiana’s defenders with instincts and efficiency on offense in order to remain effective.

Here in Game 3, Joseph surveys his surroundings, gets positioning on the smaller Ty Lawson and tickles the twine with the floater.

Joseph has revolutionized his offensive approach in the postseason, refraining from taking the consistent three-point attempt and opting for the closer, more efficient attempts. During the regular season, Joseph took a career-high 110 triples and only connected on 30 of them (27.3 percent).

The propensity for the long-range shot dropped Joseph’s field goal percentage to 43.9 percent, down from 50.4 percent in the 2014-15 season, but Joseph has taken more efficient looks in the series. He’s 11-of-16 from shots around the basket and has attempted only three shots from deep.

While Joseph is asked to make smart reads with the ball-which he failed to do in Game 4-and operate as a floor general, he’s also becoming more confident in his ability to beat his man off the dribble and convert shots in the paint.

It’s been a scalding performance from the field for Joseph, but he’s also staying in his role-which asks him to create for others. Joseph has elevated his assist percentage (23.1 percent) in the playoffs, from the regular season, and is finding teammates for efficient looks.

Illustrated below, Joseph draws in a bevy of defenders before locating power forward Patrick Patterson on an island for a triple.


Joseph’s intensity and passion shine after his counterpart puts Indy up by 18, but his vision, mid-air, is adept. Having a 6-foot-3 frame helps, as Joseph’s passes can clear smaller guards to reach their intended destination. However, he failed to convert and inbounds pass and made an errant heave that led to a turnover in Game 4.

Disregarding his ineptitude Saturday, Joseph found the formula in the first three games of the series to make an impact off the bench.

Joseph isn’t blessed with Russell Westbrook-like athleticism or Rajon Rondo-esque crisp ball movement; he’s thriving off of taking advantage of mismatches and making intelligent decisions on the court. 

With a second unit splattered with athletes roaming the perimeter and down low (Terrence Ross, Patterson, Biyombo), Joseph’s savviness is definitely appreciated. He’s also played off-ball, with Lowry operating as the lead guard-limiting his assist probability. 

Joseph’s recent play has allowed Dwane Casey to mix the hometown kid with the starters or reserves. The 24-year-old just has to relocate the success that made him a factor in the 2-1 series lead. 

Ujiri had the foresight of bringing in a guard who could be paramount for the Raptors slashing their label as annual postseason washouts. Joseph has been worth the money thrown his way; he needs to be the backcourt hero Toronto has been clamoring for in the series.