Toronto Raptors center Jakob Poeltl has been a bit of a roller coaster in his second stint north of the border. His expensive contract and limitations on offense rub some the wrong way, but his strong defense, screen-setting, and rebounding help make this Raptors team click.
Poeltl looked reborn in Toronto's new-look offense, as RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley were playing off the Austrian big man quite well. Quickley's pick-and-roll chemistry with Poeltl was already starting to bloom, which gave fans some serious hope about the state of this offense in the future.
That mojo came to a screeching halt when Poeltl suffered an ankle injury in a dominant win against the Golden State Warriors. Just when the offense was hitting its stride, Toronto lost one of their most important players for what could be a very long while.
The Raptors announced that Poeltl will be out indefinitely with a left ankle sprain that will see him be reevaluated in two weeks. With no other centers on NBA contracts on the roster right now, the Raptors need to get very creative with ways to replace him before the season slides out of control.
Toronto Raptors center Jakob Poeltl out for at least two weeks.
Poeltl has averaged 10.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game this season for the Raptors. Poeltl, who is currently leading the NBA in field goal percentage at 68.5%, has averaged 10.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game since OG Anunoby was traded away.
Second-round pick Christian Koloko would have been an ideal candidate to start in Poeltl's place, but his respiratory issue has kept him out all season long. Toronto doesn't have any healthy centers on NBA contracts, as recent rotation addition Jontay Porter is currently a two-way player.
Barring some extra personnel moves, the most likely move that could be made involves Porter or Chris Boucher moving into the starting lineup with Thad Young getting minutes as the backup big. Toronto could also go small, starting Pascal Siakam or Scottie Barnes at the center spot and sliding Gary Trent Jr. into the first five.
The Raptors just lost their best rim protector, shot-blocker, and (arguably) rebounder in one fell swoop. The positionless basketball that fans came to loathe in the last few Nick Nurse seasons might make a return, as Toronto lacks the height needed to effectively replace Poeltl. Some players will need to step up in a big way.