The Toronto Raptors know that stocking the rosters with intriguing depth pieces is integral to building a winner, and they were able to win a game or two more than they should have last year when they let players like Yuta Watanabe and DeAndre’ Bembry prove that they should be on the floor more.
While the Raptors have 12 roster spots taken care of in addition to a pair of two-way contracts, they still have a few open places to fill. Masai Ujiri has chosen to sign six players to non-guaranteed deals with the hope of having them fight it out in order to show who the three most deserving players are.
Watanabe and Freddie Gillespie are returning from the 2020-21 team, while Ujiri has signed Reggie Perry and Isaac Bonga away from Brooklyn and Washington, respectively. He added two international free agents when he brought Sam Dekker back to the NBA from Turkey and added Ishmail Wainright from France.
Which of these players will end up cracking the final roster? Based on what they could bring to the table in Toronto, we have our preferences for the ones that we think should make the final cut.
3 non-guaranteed Toronto Raptors should make the final roster.
1. SF Yuta Watanabe
This one simply must happen, as Watanabe emerged as not only a reliable NBA player, but a player that could have a long career in this league by playing the defined role of 3-and-D specialist. After bouncing around the G League, Toronto finally gave the former Grizzlies G League player extended NBA minutes, and he made the most of them.
Watanabe averaged 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds per game while making 40% of his 3-point attempts and playing some superb defense. Watanabe converted his two-way deal into a proper NBA contract, and the Raptors shouldn’t scrap all of that developmental energy after just one season.
It would be a huge mistake if Yuta Watanabe was not retained.
Watanabe’s primary competition could be Dekker, who is coming off of a strong offensive season in Turkey. However, Watanabe’s proven himself in the NBA as a perimeter pest and improving shooter, while Dekker is a lottery ticket who fell on his face during his first stint in the league.
Watanabe might not get as much playing time as he did last year due to signings like Svi Mykhailiuk and draft picks like Dalano Banton, but his traits are exactly what Ujiri and Nick Nurse want from a depth wing. Yuta has become a fan favorite, and his best basketball is still ahead of him.