With Patrick McCaw being forced into an increased role, its time to determine just how valuable the 3-time champ is to the Toronto Raptors moving forward.
The Toronto Raptors currently find themselves in the midst of a serious challenge.
Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, and Norman Powell are all out of the lineup, and that's not even mentioning the injuries to depth players such as Matt Thomas. With all of these setbacks, certain players are getting expanded roles, and one of those players is Patrick McCaw.
Although McCaw's minutes have skyrocketed recently, Pat had carved a role for himself even before all of the injury trouble. McCaw started the season with an average of 20 minutes-per-game before having an injury setback of his own. That 20-minute average continued when he returned to the team up until December 20th when he began to start after the mass amount of injuries suffered in Detroit.
The significance in this is that McCaw is not just a player who is getting a chance due to injury. He is a player that has a legitimate role on this team no matter who's healthy, and outside of the classic "Pat McCaw has a 3-peat" meme, not much is discussed about the 6-foot-7 guard from UNLV.
So, it's time to determine just how valuable Pat McCaw is.
An important piece to McCaw's story is his small yet accomplished resume. He has always been an underdog, a mentality that is all over the Toronto Raptors locker room.
Patrick McCaw was thought of as a potential first-round pick in 2016, but fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round at 38, due to several factors including his lack of physical strength and limited inside game at. He was quickly dealt to the Golden State Warriors for cash considerations that same night.
In his first two campaigns with the Warriors, McCaw managed 30 starts including 20 in his rookie season and carved himself a bench role on a team that was the class of the NBA. Although most of his opportunities came during times of injury, he did a job for the Warriors when called upon, and showed flashes of play that, if consistent, would be good enough for a larger role.
Those flashes led McCaw to believe that he was worth more than what the Warriors were willing to pay in their qualifying offer, and so he declined and became a free agent.
That was an extremely risky move for McCaw, to voluntarily leave a world-class organization such as Golden State, but it goes to show just how much belief and self-confidence he has, a trait that several players on the Raptors (especially Fred VanVleet with his "bet on yourself mantra.)
He signed for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but only played three games before being waived, and that's how he ended up being signed by the Raptors, just months before winning their first NBA title.
McCaw's role this season is a bit bigger than the one he occupied last year, considering the thinner bench that the Raptors currently field. Due to the number of injuries this season, McCaw has also been given the most amount of starts since his rookie year, an opportunity that he's been desperately waiting for.
As previously mentioned, that increased opportunity has allowed for McCaw to showcase himself further to the organization, but that doesn't necessarily mean his stock has gone up. Although it's not the most exciting reality, the truth is that McCaw's value has proven to be exactly like it was in Golden State.
On an elite team, McCaw's value is high for what he is capable of doing, and what he's capable of doing on a title contender is to be an energetic bench player who is able to impact the game in short spurts on both sides of the floor.
In his increased number of minutes, (outside of his excellent performance in Boston) McCaw has proven that although he can fit in during injury, he isn't ready for a larger role then what was expected of him prior to the season.
Even with the limited options available, the Raptors have seemingly noticed Pat's limitations as his minutes have been cut back since averaging an insane 40 minutes against OKC and Boston on December 28 and 29.
This is not to say that McCaw can't be a valuable member of this team, because he certainly can, it just looks as if his ceiling is lower than other bench options for the Raptors. Off of the bench, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Terence Davis, and Chris Boucher all look like stronger energy plug-ins for the team, and this may result in McCaw being lost in the shuffle once the team returns to full strength.
A major issue for McCaw seems to be his overall involvement in the offense. He doesn't get many shots, and even though he's been shooting 45-percent since the start of December, he has only managed to hit double-digit scoring in three out of eight starts, with a handful of those games resulting in five points or less.
The Raptors are currently struggling to find offense with Siakam's scoring and Gasol's playmaking missing, and McCaw has not been the 3rd guard that Toronto has needed when it comes to scoring. On the other side of the ball, he certainly isn't a slouch defensively and can pick-up a timely steal, but his lack of strength has resulted in some difficult matchups for the Raptors defense.
Despite his struggles in the starting lineup, McCaw will likely continue to get chances off of the bench to be a difference-maker and effect the game with his quick pace, and that's when he should be able to settle back in and find his rhythm.
There is no doubt that McCaw is suited to be a valuable member of the team; that value is just not something that co-exists nicely with the current role he's been forced into.
Going forward, McCaw's worth will be determined by his energy off of the bench, and with a year remaining on his contract after this season, he will have until 2021 to prove to the organization that he's capable of being a vital part of the second unit, heading into a free agency that could drastically alter the franchise.
As for now, the UNLV guard will have to find a way to up his contributions on both ends of the floor, as the Raptors look to remain afloat without the bulk of their starting lineup.