While possessing two of the NBA’s better centers, the Toronto Raptors lack depth in that area. Is it too late for them to pick up a center?
Love it or loathe it, centers are a dying breed in the NBA. Positionless basketball is the present and likely future, so the big men that roam the paint without rarely drifting past 18 feet are becoming almost prehistoric. Despite that, the Toronto Raptors could well be in the market for a center.
Their season has been plagued with a myriad of niggling injuries lengthy layoffs, but yet, their success, under those circumstances, is almost unparalleled – if not the Milwaukee Bucks’ historically good season. Even then, the Raptors have the third-best record in the NBA and have just clinched their seventh-successive playoff berth – a testament to just how talented this team is. Still, the injuries have caused an issue.
The Raptors have two of the better centers in the NBA in Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, but both, like most of the roster, have dealt with significant injuries this season. Gasol missed the last 14 games due to a hamstring injury before returning against the Sacramento Kings and, having already missed a further 12 games earlier in the season, has seen his durability come into question.
He’s still the domineering force of old in the paint for the Raptors, though, pulling the reigns for the second-best defense in the NBA. His deputy is just as impactful for the Raptors. Serge Ibaka is in the midst of a career-year with the Raptors, averaging a career-high 15.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game, shooting 52-percent from the field and 39-percent from three.
Ibaka, like most of the roster, has missed time already this season and has been on the injury report for the last three games. With Gasol also out during that stretch, the Raptors would roll out lineups without having a true center on the court.
In that time, they’ve seen Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam all spent meaningful minutes at the five spot. The results were a little mixed. After dropping a game to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Raptors lost Ibaka to injury and then lost their next two games to the Charlotte Hornets and then the Denver Nuggets.
Both Gasol and Ibaka have since returned to the lineup, but it’s still worth wondering whether or not the Raptors can pick up a center to fill some emergency minutes.