Through the draft and free agency, the Toronto Raptors have brought five new faces into the fold.
Just as quickly as it began, the NBA’s free agency period is winding down. With the re-signing of Fred VanVleet and the shuffling of key big men standing as the Toronto Raptors‘ most significant changes.
Barring any unforeseen surprise moves by Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster, and company, the Raptors’ roster for the coming season is basically set, save for a minor tweak or two down the depth chart. As it stands, the club decided to release Dewan Hernandez before his guaranteed contract kicks in for the season and will have to make the same judgment call on Terrence Davis II, while also coming to terms with second-round pick Jalen Harris.
It seems, then, that the team we’ve got now won’t look any different from the one that emerges on opening night on December 22nd. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the five new faces who have joined the organization since the end of last season.
Losing Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol in free agency certainly hurt, but the Raps did well to recover by signing hard-nosed Aussie big man Aron Baynes – without jeopardizing their clean cap sheet for next summer. Baynes’ toughness and physicality should play well in the hockey-mad Toronto market. Perhaps more significantly, the soon-to-be 34-year-old has enjoyed a late-career evolution into a deep threat on the offensive end (he shot 35% from deep last year) in Phoenix.
As the most established big man on the Raptors roster, Baynes might actually see his role expand even further. If he’s essentially replacing Gasol, then he will likely be asked to play roughly the 26 minutes per game they got from the Spaniard last season, more than Baynes has ever played. For now, a crunch time lineup of VanVleet, Kyle Lowry, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and Baynes looks like the club’s top option.