The Toronto Raptors seem to be interested in gaining a reputation as the place to go when your professional basketball career is in jeopardy. Austin Daye, a skinny “stretch-4″ (i.e., a power forward who plays, and shoots, on the perimeter) has joined washout point guard D.J. Augustin, in what must surely be the last opportunity in the NBA for both.
The Detroit Pistons, who drafted Daye out of Gonzaga University (the same school as legendary flop Adam Morrison – hey, let’s offer him a contract!), ran out of patience with him, and he was dealt to Memphis as part of the infamous Ed Davis-Jose Calderon 3-team trade. The Grizzlies were not interested in retaining him after his half-year there, so he wisely grabbed the only contract I suspect he was offered.
Daye stands nearly 7 feet tall, but his skinny frame renders him a non-factor as a rebounder. If he’s going to stick around, he’ll have to hit 3-balls. Of course, to make 3s, you have to take them, and Austin’s career number of shot attempts from distance is disturbingly low. His career shooting percentage is reasonable at 35.6, so his shots have a chance. However, he’s got little else to sell. More than half of his shot attempts in Memphis were from beyond the arc, meaning his inside game has not advanced in 4 years as a pro.
In the context of what the Raps appear to want to do this season, Austin’s arrival makes some sense. Steve Novak, who’s probably second on the depth chart at the moment, is also a stretch-4. The Raps seem determined to take more long balls this season, and in effect have replaced Andrea Bargnani with 2 relatively cheap candidates. Shooting from distance is beloved by NBA stat freaks (as this lengthy, well-documented article will attest), and I certainly concur that winning in today’s game is most unlikely without reliable long-range gunners. However, is Austin really the best guy we can find for this role? Furthermore, what’s he going to provide without the ball? Can he contribute to the offense beyond shooting, and can he defend his position?
As you can tell, I’m more than a little skeptical about this signing. The rare glimpses I’ve had of Austin Daye have not impressed. However, he’s on board cheaply, so even if he fumbles away this chance, the damage to the Raps will be minimal.
Welcome to Toronto, Austin Daye. Seize with both hands the life buoy you’ve been tossed.
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.