I feel the Raptors have made a crucial error this off-season. Yes they have brought back their core (and that is a good thing), but while others have been getting better through trade (like Boston and the Knicks) or signing free agents (like Lance Stephenson in Charlotte), the Raptors big “acquisition” is Lou Williams or James Johnson. In fact I’d venture to say the only teams who got worse are Miami and Indiana, with Detroit and Toronto the only teams not to get better in the entire Eastern Conference. I say this harshly because Carlos Boozer was recently won off the waiver wire for 3 million by the Lakers (who seem to have pushed draft pick Julius Randle to bench duty before he even gets to training camp).
Let’s look at next season from the worst case scenario for a moment. Amir Johnson (who refuses year after year to have surgery on his bum ankle, preferring non-invasive treatments instead) has a season ending injury. This makes Patrick Patterson our starting Power Forward (PF), which I can live with. What I am not okay with is Chuck Hayes or Tyler Hansbrough becoming backup PF (whoever isn’t the PF will be our backup Centre), however I have forgotten about Lucas Nogueira as a backup if Masai Ujiri keeps him with the team this year.
Let’s take a moment to review the best case scenario if we had won Boozer off waivers:
Centre: Jonas Valanciunas (backup Amir Johnson with less strain on his ankle and a good attitude to win, starter or not)
Power Forward: Boozer, Patterson
Small Forward: Ross, Johnson or Fields?
Shooting Guard: DeRozan, Lou Williams
Point Guard: Lowry, Vasquez
The only hole or weakness I see in that lineup is the backup SF position of which I do not expect Masai Ujiri to further address after picking up James Johnson and committing to have Bruno Caboclo with the roster this year.
You might ask yourself, why am I pushing so hard for Carlos Boozer? He is a true professional, who handled constant trade/amnesty talks for years in Chicago (still putting up double digit or close to averages in both points and rebounds for years). He is a true veteran, positive leader type player who doesn’t need, nor demand the ball, yet will still play hard every possession. He is not a slouch offensively averaging 16.6 Points Per Game throughout his career. Boozer also averages 9.8 Rebounds Per Game in his 12 year NBA career. It is also interesting to note that Boozer’s career playoff averages with Utah and Chicago give him double double numbers, with 17.1 PPG and 11.1 RPG.
I ask you Raptors Nation, am I being too harsh on Masai Ujiri? Or do you believe as I do, that our depth (especially at Centre, Power Forward and Small Forward) may not be strong enough for home court advantage come playoffs next season?