There may be no more discussed end-of-the-bench player in the league than Toronto Raptors power forward Juancho Hernangomez. The NBA’s answer to Laurence Olivier earned himself a prime spot at Raptors media day following his role as Bo Cruz in Adam Sandler’s Hustle.
While his life on the silver screen is just getting started, a poor season in 2021-22 left many doubters in its wake. Toronto was not among them, as they agreed to a one-year contract with Hernangomez following a somewhat uneven season with the Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz.
During the Media Day festivities, Hernangomez said that he talked with 2019 champion Marc Gasol and longtime Raptors point guard Jose Calderon prior to signing with Toronto. It looks like these two memorable names put in a good word about playing in Canada and the benefits that come with starring on the Raptors.
Juancho also mentioned that Sergio Scariolo, a former Raptors assistant and interim head coach who left the bench to coach the Spanish national team, put in a good word with Toronto. Hernangomez said Toronto’s style of play was also very appealing for a player with his skill set.
Marc Gasol sold Juancho Hernangomez on the Toronto Raptors.
Scariolo knows firsthand that Juancho is ready to dominate in Toronto. After teaming with his brother Willy in Eurobasket competition for the Spanish national team, Juancho helped his country claim the tournament’s top prize thanks to a 27-point performance in the finals.
Hernangomez is fresh off a year in which he was relegated to the end of the bench on multiple teams and put up poor box score stats. Toronto guaranteeing his money shows that they believe in him and his ability to shoot the basketball. Was last year a fluke, or a sign of what is to come?
Hernangomez could join a long line of Spanish fan favorites in Toronto if he ends up getting back on track. In addition to Gasol and Calderon, Jorge Garbajosa and Serge Ibaka have all built some lasting memories in Toronto. Will Hernangomez follow suit this season?
Hernangomez is trying to show the basketball world that he is still a viable NBA rotation player, and Toronto seems like an ideal landing spot for him in this quest. Considering some of the bench players Toronto has seen over the last few years, Juancho doesn’t have to do much to get in the fan’s good graces.