Key players underperforming is an issue Nick Nurse, the Toronto Raptors organization as a whole, and the front office will be looking to fix next season. This year, some of the Raptors’ highest-paid players had worse stats than last year, forcing rookies and new additions to the team to contribute more.
The result speaks for itself, the Raptors were 27-45 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012-2013. Tampa was a HUGE factor in this decline, but the Raptors weren’t firing on all cylinders for large chunks of the season.
If the team is going to compete for a playoff spot next season, the players on the roster have to play better, because the team might not necessarily be in a position to make some huge improvements.
Here are three players that underperformed this season, as they all had some part in the Raptors’ season from hell that saw them relegated to the lottery for the first time in nearly a decade.
3 Toronto Raptors players who underperformed.
3. Aron Baynes
Baynes’ signing is looking like the worst decision Masai Ujiri made last offseason. His inability to rebound, protect the rim, or shoot 3s this season crippled the Raptors. Baynes wasn’t a slight downgrade from Marc Gasol, he was a complete liability.
Before the season during a press conference, Nick Nurse said Baynes was “at the top of the list [of free agents] if Marc and Serge left.” The Raptors were optimistic that Baynes could keep the starting center job. He couldn’t, and only started 31 games. He didn’t play in 19 games, three because of injury.
Aron Baynes couldn’t do anything right for the Toronto Raptors.
Baynes ended the season averaging 0.4 blocks and 5.2 rebounds per contest, playing 18.5 minutes per game. Chris Boucher, at 210 pounds soaking wet, averaged more rebounds. Opposing centers were consistently taking advantage of Baynes, routinely outrebounding him and scoring on him.
There was optimism that Baynes would fit well with the team because he shot over 34% from three the previous two seasons. This year, Baynes was one of the worst 3-point shooters in the league, making 26.2% of his 3-pointers.
Baynes had 1.6 attempts per game from 3-point range with no defender within 6 feet, but he made just 23% of those shots. By the end of the season, Khem Birch and Freddie Gillespie took his job, and no one can argue with that decision.