On the one hand, the Toronto Raptors are poised to have one of the most experienced, cohesive lineups in the league considering how every rotation player from last season is coming back. On the other, the Raptors have cut loose several promising bench players over the previous few years.
With Toronto’s 20-man training camp roster all but finalized, Masai Ujiri and Nick Nurse have cut the cord with some of the holdovers from last year. Nearly all elements of the Tampa bubble have been weeded out as a result of the nipping and tucking that has gone on.
While many of the players who have been scrapped have found new homes elsewhere, those names might bring some extra motivation into any tussle against their old team. There’s nothing quite like a classic revenge game to get the adrenaline going.
These three players could return to Toronto and go all-out in their quest to defeat the Raptors with their new teams. If they perform well enough, there might be a part of Nurse and Ujiri’s psyche that gets a little unnerved at the fact they were jettisoned.
3 former Toronto Raptors who may want revenge.
3. Yuta Watanabe, Brooklyn Nets
Watanabe just left the Raptors and joined the rival Nets on a non-guaranteed contract. If Watanabe makes the final roster, which should be expected given what he’s shown with Toronto and Brooklyn’s need for more defense, Watanabe can get his revenge as early as the second game of the season.
Watanabe had expressed a desire to return to the Raptors when free agency kicked off, but it became clear that his feelings were not reciprocated by the front office. The Raptors thought that signing Juancho Hernangomez and Gabe Brown was a more worthwhile pursuit.
Yuta Watanabe could burn the Toronto Raptors.
Watanabe’s 26-point, 13-rebound performance in December was undoubtedly aided by all of the COVID-19 absences, but it shows that he had developed his offensive game to a point where he can slot into an NBA rotation. Brooklyn would do well to lean on him as a late-game bench sparkplug.
Watanabe has fought and clawed for every ounce of playing time that he has received in the NBA. He might have a somewhat uphill battle to make it in Brooklyn, but that doesn’t mean that Toronto should totally rule out the possibility of Yuta going off in his return to Canada.