A depleted Charlotte Hornets roster signaled a very winnable matchup for Jakob Poeltl the Toronto Raptors. Despite trailing at halftime, the Raptors made a huge push in the second half, with a sizable scoring advantage in the fourth quarter producing 35 points as opposed to Charlotte's 18.
Their rally to a 114-99 victory was led by stellar play from Scottie Barnes, who had a double-double of 22 points and 17 rebounds, Pascal Siakam, who had 27 points, eight assists, eight rebounds, and a breakout performance from Gary Trent Jr, who had achieved his first career triple-double of 22 points and ten rebounds.
While it was a fantastic night for Barnes, Siakam, and Trent Jr, one Raptor who didn't quite reach the same amount of success in this favorable matchup was Poeltl. The Hornets rode out their game against Toronto with backup big man Nick Richards sliding in at the starting center role.
Nevertheless, it was the usual bench guy in Richards who outclassed the Raptors' starting center, as Poeltl was limited to only 15 minutes of play while also holding an atrocious plus/minus rating of -12. Poeltl mustered just four points, which is not the type of production someone with his salary should be having.
Jakob Poeltl's massive contract might become another Toronto Raptors front-office mistake.
Sure, it could have been Darko Rajakovic feeling the game out and realizing that Poeltl didn't click with the lineups on that night, but this sentiment would be more understandable if the player in question wasn't making $80 million in four years.
The Hornets are one of the worst teams in the entire league, while also being down in center depth for this game. If that's not enough to warrant more minutes for your starting center, something has gone wrong.
Ujiri made the bold move to reacquire Poeltl at last year's trade deadline, largely to fill the hole in the front court as the team was severely lacking in paint presence.
However, it seems their plan to reinsert Poeltl with Toronto is a bit of a blunder on the front office's part. Poeltl's inability to stretch the floor, free throw woes, and lack of a powerful presence against some of the best opposing bigs might make him the odd man out in the Raptors' starting unit.
Meanwhile, Gary Trent Jr. had one of the best games of his career, recording his first-ever double-double and playing as much as the rest of the starters while Poeltl twiddled his thumbs on the bench. Did the Raptors stumble into a new lineup combination?
Poeltl has found some success this season in the pick-and-roll with Dennis Schroder, so it isn't entirely a failure on the front office's part just yet. Rather, the front office needs to act fast to figure out a competent roster that fixes the holes around Poeltl's game to make the most of his expensive deal.