Luis Scola is a key player for the Toronto Raptors


On paper, it seems as though the Toronto Raptors improved considerable in most aspects this summer, though the power forward position remains a concern. Patrick Patterson probably isn’t good enough to be starting for a team fighting for supremacy within the Eastern Conference, yet his name will be read on opening night. In relief, veteran Luis Scola will come on to contribute quality minutes. The 35-year-old may be about to have a renaissance season with the Raptors, based on the large role he will be expected to play.

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Scola has yet to have a poor NBA season, but his stats from the last few campaigns have certainly descended from his glory days. In 2014-15, he earned 9.4 points and 6.5 rebounds on 47% shooting from the field in just 20.5 minutes per game. From an ageing veteran near the end of his career, those numbers were exactly what the Indiana Pacers would have hoped for. Scola didn’t have a massive role beyond mentoring the young players and holding down the fort when David West took a breather, but he still managed to be significant when he got on the court.

This year, the Raptors will look for a lot out of Scola. Not only will head coach Dwane Casey be looking for veteran leadership and mentorship, he will also hope for Scola to help spread the floor, boost the team’s rebounding output, and provide a secondary scoring option from the bench unit. Basically, whether he is capable or not, Scola will be asked to do many of the things a starting power forward in the NBA does, simply because of team need.

The good news is that he is likely capable. This past season was actually Scola’s worst shooting season of his career, which indicates his ability to score. While he doesn’t attempt 3-pointers, Scola is a consistent marksman from the elbow and he can also knock down deep 2-pointers. This will create opportunities for centres Jonas Valanciunas and Bismack Biyombo by drawing defenders out of the paint.

Averaging 7.0 rebounds per game throughout his career, Scola isn’t an excellent rebounder, but he is solid and consistent. He will have to bring that same consistency, since Patterson is a poor glass eater. When he plays, he will have to fight hard for boards to make up for whatever Patterson missed while he was out there.

Scola is a confident scorer with a kit full of tools. He has nifty post moves and an effective jumper, which make up for his below average athleticism and speed. He uses intelligence to get the ball in the hoop, which should serve the Raptors well. My guess is the team will be hoping for at least 12 points per game from the big Argentinian.

Overall, Scola has a busy season in front of him. Hopefully he and Patterson will be able to do enough to not be considered true liabilities for the Raptors.

Next: The Raptors could draft Jamal Murray

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