Toronto Raptors: 3 rotation decisions to make in training camp

PORTLAND, OREGON - JANUARY 11: Fred VanVleet #23 and Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OREGON - JANUARY 11: Fred VanVleet #23 and Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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Gary Trent, Gary Trent Jr., Toronto Raptors
TAMPA, FLORIDA – APRIL 05: Gary Trent Jr. #33 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors have been finalizing their last few signings ahead of training camp’s Monday start and, as we prep for the first scrimmages and drills of the 2021-2022 season, the coaching staff and front office will have many rotational questions to unpack and decide on rather quickly.

With franchise legend Kyle Lowry off to the Miami Heat and Pascal Siakam out with an injury for the beginning of the season, Nick Nurse and Masai Ujiri have to not only figure out opening night’s lineups, but they’ll have to piece together how this roster will operate when it’s fully healthy and functional.

Who’s the leader? Which bench pieces are going to take the reigns and play the pivotal sixth and seventh man spots? How do the newcomers fit into the schemes on both ends?

There’s a lot of important decisions to make for a team that is expected to bounce back after last season’s struggles in Tampa.

3 big rotation decisions the Toronto Raptors must make.

We’re gonna take a look at the top 3, but first, a quick glance at a couple of honourable mentions.

Where does Gary Trent Jr. fit in his first full season with Toronto?

The Raptors have an interesting rotation in the first year without Lowry as Fred VanVleet takes sole possession of the point. Gary Trent Jr., Malachi Flynn, and newly acquired vet Goran Dragic round out the top four options.

The reality is that Trent fits best in the starting lineup. His shooting will be important for opening up the middle of the floor for Siakam when he comes back, and with plus defenders in VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Siakam all on the floor with him, Trent Jr. can focus the bulk of his energy on the offensive end.

That’ll be incredibly important for a team whose starters can be incredibly streaky on the offensive end.

How will the backup center spot shake out?

It’s hard to find anyone who dislikes Freddie Gillespie and the grit he brought as Toronto’s latest G League developmental project. However, with the acquisition of Precious Achiuwa in the Lowry sign-and-trade, does Gillespie have a spot in the rotation?

The simple answer is probably not. Gillespie earned his spot in the league with sweat and spirit, but Achiuwa not only brings crazy athleticism but a defensive game that prompted Golden State assistant coach Mike Brown to hint at his similarities to former DPOY Draymond Green.

Ultimately, it’s unlikely Nurse keeps that kind of potential out of the lineup, no matter how much we all love the other Fred.