The Toronto Raptors made waves in the 2021-22 season thanks to their unusual lineup configuration. Rather than add several taller centers to help with rim protection and rebounding, Toronto went all-in on 6-8 or 6-9 forwards that can defend multiple positions.
The Raptors might need to break away from that doctrine if they want to take the next step in the Eastern Conference. While this won’t help them completely shut down the likes of Joel Embiid, adding a big might help them become more effective in situations where a bigger lineup is called for.
The Raptors won’t be starved for choice in that area, as multiple teams seem at least somewhat willing to let their valued bigs test the open market. Toronto has some solid cap space to play around with, giving them the opportunity to get much bigger and much stronger.
These three free agents are all over seven feet tall, giving them the physical measurables needed to slot right in as a center over Khem Birch’s albatross deal. Toronto might need to slightly bend their dogmatic commitment to length to finally get someone who can scrape the sky and block some shots.
3 7-foot centers the Toronto Raptors could sign.
3. Isaiah Hartenstein, Los Angeles Clippers
After struggling to crack the rotation in Houston, Hartenstein proved himself as a viable NBA backup big man in Cleveland. The Clippers brought him on to see if that breakout year was a fluke, and his stats this year show that he is even more deadly than he was before.
Hartenstein averaged precisely 8.3 points per game for the second season in a row while chipping in 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in just under 18 minutes per game. Hartenstein averaged 16.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game per 36 minutes on 62% shooting with a developing jumper.
Isaiah Hartenstein could be ideal for the Toronto Raptors.
Hartenstein moves around well for someone who is 250 pounds, and his solid shot-blocking numbers will make him a better defensive option than Birch. After showing some competency on his 3-point shot last year, Nick Nurse could be the perfect coach to take him to the next level in this department.
Hartenstein could return to the Clippers, but they could just as easily lean in Ivica Zubac and another big-name free agent. If he hits the open market, giving him cheaper multi-year contract might be one way for Masai Ujiri to address the lack of size without backing up the Brinks truck.