What can Luis Scola bring to the Toronto Raptors?


One of the free agents the Toronto Raptors signed via free agency this offseason was Luis Scola. Scola, a 35-year-old veteran, spent his last two NBA seasons with the Indiana Pacers. In Indiana, Scola backed up David West and averaged 9.4 points and 6.5 rebounds in 20.5 minutes.

While his best days are behind him, the Argentinian power forward can still be a serviceable rotational player. After losing Amir Johnson to the Boston Celtics, GM Masai Ujiri was able to solve a problem by acquiring Scola on a short-term deal. Scola will most likely split minutes with Patrick Patterson, and perhaps DeMarre Carroll occasionally in small-ball lineups, which the Raptors intend to utilize this upcoming season.

Though Scola projects to be the team’s second-string power forward, a move into the starting lineup is possible with a strong showing early in the season. At 6’9″, Scola does not offer the rim protection necessary to serve as a small-ball centre or the lateral quickness to match up against small forwards. As a result, his positional versatility is limited. Nevertheless, Scola has a high basketball IQ, which makes up greatly for his lack of athleticism and size. This is evident is his ability to effectively time his jumps for offensive rebounds and putbacks.

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In a late-season game against the Miami Heat, Scola scored a season-high 23 points and showcased this valuable skill. Furthermore, Scola displayed solid footwork and nice touch around the rim in the midst of multiple surrounding defenders.

Per 36 minutes last season, Scola had remarkable numbers, to the tune of 16.6 points and 11.4 rebounds with the Pacers. Furthermore, his player efficiency was 16.84, which shows his value on the court. Adding Scola to the roster gives the Raptors a contrast in skill set to Patterson. Since Scola’s game is predicated on the paint and mid-range jumpers, he would function well as the big man in high screen sets. On the other hand, Patterson, who shot the three-pointer at 37% last season according to ESPN, is a natural floor-spacing big.

Per Josh Lewenberg of TSN, Scola expects to see consistent time on the floor, and he rightfully should.

Scola is one of the most durable players in the league, having only missed nine games in nine NBA seasons. Regardless of his role as a backup or starter, he will be a reliable player for the Raptors. Additionally, the veteran experience he brings to the team is a vital intangible, as Scola could be a nice mentor for Jonas Valanciunas and the other young bigs.

Even though the Toronto Raptors missed out on big-time free agents, they nabbed system guys at reasonable prices who provide more depth to the roster. Scola will be a crafty vet who is capable of rebounding and scoring in efficient ways. Factor in the exponential salary cap rise, and Scola’s 1-year, $3 million contract is a low-risk bargain.

Next: Delon Wright may log big minutes

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