Toronto Raptors: Potential starting lineup after Khem Birch signing

TAMPA, FLORIDA - MAY 11: Khem Birch #24 of the Toronto Raptors. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - MAY 11: Khem Birch #24 of the Toronto Raptors. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors have plenty of work to do when it comes to filling out this roster following Kyle Lowry’s departure, but one area in which they are very thin at the center position, as the free agency of Khem Birch threw the whole outlook at that position completely out of order.

Birch, a Canadian native who ended up in Toronto after the Orlando Magic decided to cut ties with him, averaged 11.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game with the Raptors following a late-season acquisition. After Aron Baynes’ struggles, Birch gave the lineup some stability.

Birch was looking to cash in after his standout play with the Raptors, as his time in Toronto proved that he is more than just someone who is a big body in there to eat up space in the paint. He is evolving into a solid NBA center, and Masai Ujiri compensated him as such.

Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Birch has chosen to re-sign with the Raptors on a three-year deal worth around $20 million. Considering the uptick in production he had with Toronto, this is a pretty economical deal.

How does the Birch signing impact the depth chart? With a true center in the mix, things could get interesting.

Potential Toronto Raptors lineup with Khem Birch

  • PG: Fred VanVleet, Malachi Flynn, David Johnson
  • SG: Gary Trent Jr., Goran Dragic, Dalano Banton
  • SF: OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Yuta Watanabe, Ishmail Wainright, Sam Dekker
  • PF: Pascal Siakam, Chris Boucher, Justin Champagnie
  • C: Khem Birch, Precious Achiuwa, Freddie Gillespie

Scottie Barnes will get tons of minutes as a rookie, but if Birch was brought back to be the starting center, Pascal Siakam will take Barnes’ place at power forward when he’s healthy. OG Anunoby stays over to small forward, with Gary Trent Jr. back at shooting guard and Fred VanVleet at point guard.

Goran Dragic will likely be moved after the Lowry sign-and-trade is completed, but if he ends up staying, he and Precious Achiuwa could have roles off of the bench. Malachi Flynn and Chris Boucher will return to their expert roles with the second unit now that Birch is back.

Birch might not be the outside shooting presence or amazing passer that someone like Marc Gasol was during his Toronto tenure, but he has shown that he can at least make strides in that direction.

As far as 2021 goes, look for Birch to provide his usual blend of rebounding, interior defense, energy, and hustle. For just under $7 million per season at a time when elite athletes all of the sport at that position are picking up nine-figure contracts, this was a nice piece of business.

dark. Next. 2 starting lineup combinations with Scottie Barnes