Raptors not putting Gradey Dick in rotation would be a massive mistake

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 14: Gradey Dick #1 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 14: Gradey Dick #1 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Part of the reason the Toronto Raptors’ decision to select Kansas wing Gradey Dick in the 2023 NBA Draft was met with near-universal acclaim was the fact that he was a shot in the arm for a team that was in dire need of more shooting to accentuate their current core.

Dick may not have torn the roof off Summer League in Las Vegas, but the strong finish he had in his last few games was evidence of the quality offensive player Toronto has in their ranks. Raptors fans will likely be waiting with bated breath as Dick gears up for his pro debut.

The question of how much playing time he could earn is still up in the air, as new head coach Darko Rajakovic’s propensity for playing veterans over young players (or vice-versa) is not known yet. As a result, there is a chance Dick is more spectator than participant early in his career.

Eric Koreen of The Athletic surmised that Dick would not be in Rajakovic’s original 10-man rotation. While this is theoretically possible, the Raptors would be making a severe technical and competitive error if they do not unleash Dick very early.

The Toronto Raptors must play Gradey Dick.

While Nick Nurse might be gone, the hovering presence of Masai Ujiri looming over Rajakovic means that many of his wishes will likely be implemented. With such a premium being placed on young players and making sure they get minutes, Dick will likely get the benefit of the doubt over a veteran.

While the Raptors might not want to put too much on his plate early on, Dick’s flaws might be corrected more easily with live in-game reps than watching on the bench and working in practice. While not the most amazing creator right now, the potential of what he could be in this area is obvious.

While Dick ending up in the rotation would likely mean that 2022 draftee Christian Koloko does not get any time, the Raptors are clearly much more committed to making Dick work. A bench of three forwards, Koloko, and Dennis Schroder would essentially make 2023-24 a re-run of last season.

At the end of the day, Dick is a shooter, and the Raptors need shooting in their lineup as badly as any team. If Rajakovic goes against the grain and does not give Dick the time of day to start the season, the lack of 3-pointers could get fans even more riled up than they already are.

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