Could DJ Wilson return to the Raptors after Drew Eubanks waive?

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 28: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers is guarded by D.J. Wilson #9 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 28: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers is guarded by D.J. Wilson #9 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

Amidst the hustle-and-bustle of an active (and strange) NBA Trade Deadline, the Toronto Raptors kept things lowkey. They ended up making a single trade with the San Antonio Spurs involving Goran Dragic, the Raptors’ estranged point guard, for Thad Young and Drew Eubanks.

Though Young was the main trade piece for the Raptors, many were quickly wondering where Eubanks may fit into the rotation. However, Eubanks’ tenure with Toronto was short-lived, as the team quickly waived the undrafted big man. Toronto now has an open roster spot and more cap space needed to chase potential additions.

Who takes the open roster spot left by Eubanks’ departure? While there are many players on the buyout market worth speculating, one familiar name from this season comes to mind in DJ Wilson. Raptors fans got a small glimpse at him as a COVID-19 replacement earlier in the year.

The fifth-year big, currently rostered with the G-League Oklahoma City Blue, played valuable (if limited) minutes with the Raptors over multiple 10-day hardship exception contracts. His energy, efficiency, and active hands make him the perfect late game or pace-changing substitution for a team relying on consistently shortened rotations.

Where does DJ Wilson fit in the Toronto Raptors rotation?

The initial trade for Eubanks provoked an interesting question that would also apply to a Wilson signing. Where does a new big man slide into the rotation, or do they at all? Considering how Wilson provided height and rim protection, don’t be surprised for a second if he slides in.

A quick glance at Nick Nurse’s shortened rotation and you’ll notice an often inactive and ineffective Khem Birch. After eating up some valuable minutes earlier in the season, he’s called down to third in the rotation pecking order. The younger, more athletic Wilson jumping over him in the rotation should surprise no one.

While Young is sure to take minutes as a traditional power forward, the Raptors need more availability from a legit center, and Wilson can give them that. As Nurse noted post-deadline, this team is equipped and used to handling strange rotations.

Does this mean Wilson is the obvious choice? Not necessarily. Justin Champagnie being converted from a two-way player to a standard contract is possible, as it would make him eligible for the playoffs. The market is still likely to open up as buyout candidates become available.

The Raptors may look for a player with more wing versatility or shooting ability to help broaden the rotation.

However, Wilson is a promising commodity and fan favorite. He should not be discounted as a potential midseason roster addition. He’s worked well in the Raptors’ scheme and could be the perfect final piece on a team exceeding league expectations. Keep an eye on Wilson and don’t be surprised if he dons the red and black again this season.

Next. 3 reasons Raptors won Thad Young trade. dark