Negative No. 1: Freddy Gillespie is about to get bumped
It’s so easy to root for the undersized big who kills himself on the glass and plays bigger than he is. Gillespie earned himself an NBA contract with his play down the stretch of last season, as his high motor and rebounding helped him flourish.
The Raptors traded $1.5 million dollars for the sweat of Gillespie’s brow, and though the front office had to know that he was likely never going to amount to more than a poor man’s Tristan Thompson, having a hardworking and competent backup big is more than a lot of teams can say.
Still, while it’s easy to root for him, minutes will be hard to come by.
Freddie Gillespie struggled in Summer League.
Five months later and the Raptors trade for Achiuwa. While the city celebrates the acquisition of a stud young big, we few Gillespie lovers begin to mourn his inevitable loss of minutes. Making a pitiful 23% of your shots while remaining in constant foul trouble doesn’t help much either.
It’s for the best! Achiuwa is the superior player in almost every way. He’s quicker, more athletic, he’s got better hands in the post and a better handle on the perimeter, and he moves better laterally once he switches on to the perimeter as a defender. He’s a better player at a younger age with more upside if he continues to improve.
Summer League didn’t do Gillespie any favors. Routinely getting his butt handed to him by guys like Chris Silva and Jericho Sims had his stock trending in the opposite direction.
Is it sad that the Raptors are now playing Achiuwa over Gillespie? No. Is it sad that we won’t get to watch Gillespie go all out in the paint as much as we did last year? A little bit.