Apr 19, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson (left) and Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle (right) share a laugh after the first pitch against the New York Yankees at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Improving the Raptors: Part 4 - Power Forwards

We shift our gaze from the back- to the front-court, starting with an examination of the Toronto Raptors’ power forward situation, and how it might be improved through free agents. My depth chart lists Amir Johnson, followed by Quincy Acy, then the enigma known as Andrea Bargnani, who makes more money than his higher-ranked colleagues do combined. AB is also hurt (to what extent is most unclear – when I chatted briefly with AB prior to the Brooklyn game, he wore no sling to support his injured arm, nor did he appear to be in pain), and currently is the holder of the unofficial NBA Least Valuable Player award, based on trade value. While AB is likely to be back, largely because he can’t be gotten rid of, I still propose we go shopping.

I have no idea how Bryan Colangelo might pitch a free agent PF. The Raps may be set for years if AB returns and becomes a contributor to the second unit, and Quincy Acy’s fine rookie season was not a fluke. Assuming Amir Johnson holds his ground, there won’t be any minutes for anyone. However, if we take off our rose-coloured glasses and look objectively at the matter, we must acknowledge it could turn disastrous in no time at all. What we need is a big muscular rebounder who takes pride in his defensive shut-down skills and is never hurt.

Apr 15, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Bobcats power forward Josh McRoberts (11) drives on New York Knicks small forward Iman Shumpert (21) during the second half at Time Warner Arena. Mandatory Credit: Curtis Wilson-USA TODAY Sports

Guess what – there aren’t very many of those guys hanging around the free agent list! Instead we can discuss contracts with Charlie Villenueva (are those pigs flying by my window?), Austin Daye, DeJuan Blair (why his career has not advanced is a mystery to me), Boris Diaw (the most wildly inconsistent player I’ve ever seen – sometimes he plays like he should be gathering serious All-Star attention, other times it’s like he’s having a lunchtime run at the Y), and more ex-Raps (Matt Bonner, P.J. Tucker, James Johnson and Jermaine O’Neal). On second thought, let’s not discuss anything other than the weather with that bunch.

There are a lot of aged players, like Kurt Thomas, Rasheed Wallace and Antawn Jamison, trying for one more contract to pump up the ol’ pension. I’ll pass, thanks.

Are there any serious candidates in our price range? I’ve always liked Josh McRoberts, who’s heady and mobile, and could play centre in a pinch. J.J. Hickson is talented enough to upset the depth chart. Paul Millsap was someone I pushed for prior to the trade deadline; the only way we could pay him and stay under the salary cap is if we jettisoned someone(s). The same applies to the best player on the list, David West. Jared Jeffries would come cheap, but his production would match his pay. We could take a chance on Al-Farouk Aminu or Earl Clark, both of whom have low ceilings.

Apr 14, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Portland Trailblazers forward J.J. Hickson (21) shoots the ball during the first half against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not very inspiring, is it? McRoberts and Hickson are probably the best value for what limited funds we have available. Tucker is severely limited as a PF, but I’d grab him if he were available, since he can cover the SF spot defensively as well. I love those versatile players. 

Anybody got any raises? Please Comment.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

 

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