When the Toronto Raptors got Goran Dragic back in the same deal that helped them send Kyle Lowry to the Miami Heat, Nick Nurse thought that he was getting a starting-caliber guard. In fact, he gave the wily veteran an Opening Night start over Gary Trent Jr. After five lackluster games, Dragic put his Toronto career on hold.
Dragic has been away from the team due to what has been deemed a personal matter. While the Raptors were initially able to withstand losing a player of his caliber, the flaws on this roster have started to show themselves without a steady veteran presence on the bench.
In a loss against Dragic’s old team in Miami, Nick Nurse only used two of his bench players in Chris Boucher and Justin Champagnie, with the latter only playing nine minutes. The Raptors often choose to mix-and-match backup point guard fill-ins rather than use either Dalano Banton or Malachi Flynn.
The Raptors could use someone that has experience as a ball-handler, can get buckets as both a finisher and shooter, and has enough feel for the game to make incisive passes without reckless turnovers. Does that sound familiar? Perhaps a certain Slovenian greybeard?
The Toronto Raptors are lacking depth without Goran Dragic.
Due to the fact we’re not sure what the nature of Dragic’s personal matter is, it would be wrong to speculate as to the reasons behind his departure. However, the fact that he was seen practicing in Miami amid rumors of a trade elsewhere is not a great look for the vet.
The Raptors may be able to create dome fun, unique lineups with Scottie Barnes or Pascal Siakam running point when VanVleet is on the bench, but is that sustainable? Dragic’s departure combined with Nurse’s unwillingness to give Banton and Flynn another shot has made this team’s bench even worse.
If he returned to the Raptors earlier in the year, Dragic would have a near-perfect set-up. He’d come off the bench (which he did all the time in Miami), would have the greenest light possible, and would play on a team fighting for a postseason spot. He’d also bump up his trade value more than he could ever hope to do away from the team.
Unless Nurse regains his trust in Banton and Flynn, or moves a big man like Boucher in order to acquire some wing and backcourt depth, Toronto seems destined to struggle with a lack of quality on the bench for the entire season.
This front office has to wonder what could have been if Dragic was on the floor.