Some expect the 2022-23 Toronto Raptors to be a dark horse contender in the Eastern Conference, and the more robust bench is a big reason why. A second unit featuring names like Chris Boucher, Khem Birch, and Otto Porter Jr. may sound good in theory, but the injury bug has already ravaged the roster.
Porter missed the entirety of the preseason with a hamstring problem, while Boucher is dealing with a similar issue that sidelined him for the final preseason efforts. Birch has had a knee injury going back to last season that he has not fully recovered from, and he picked up even more swelling in the other knee during the preseason.
Toronto is not going to open the season against the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers with all of their bench players ready to rock. The latest update paints a very bleak picture, implying that multiple members of this team are going to miss some time early in the season.
Not only is Porter out for this game, but Sports Illustrated’s Aaron Rose hinted that the injury might sideline him for a few more weeks. Boucher is questionable with his injury, and Birch will not play. Toronto hasn’t even played yet, and almost one-third of their rotation is out of commission.
UPDATE: Both Khem Birch and Chris Boucher have been listed as doubtful.
The Toronto Raptors won’t have Otto Porter Jr. or Khem Birch vs. Cavs
Porter, who averaged 8.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game during his title-winning season with the Golden State Warriors, was brought in with the expectation that he could help a team that lacks amazing shooting get more beefed up in that area. Unfortunately, his durability concerns seem to have followed him to Canada.
Boucher is viewed as such an integral part of the bench that he was rewarded with a three-year contract in the offseason. While he looked excellent in his limited preseason action, a hamstring problem might keep him out for the Cleveland home opener and, potentially, the first road game of the year against Brooklyn.
Birch likely was not going to play a significant role in the team’s revamped new look, but Nurse has been willing to lean on him in certain situations. Losing him could mean that Juancho Hernangomez and Christian Koloko will get some extra run in the early stages of their season.
The Raptors managed to overcome the injury bug last season and won 48 games as a result. However, they will need to kick things into overdrive if they want to replicate that success, thanks to the absolute gauntlet of a schedule they have in the early going.