The Toronto Raptors have so far done what they needed to do in NBA Free Agency 2022, but has the needle moved in the right direction for them?
If Masai Ujiri hadn’t been adequately prepared, the Toronto Raptors might have lost key players Thaddeus Young and Chris Boucher in the first few weeks of the free hand. Thankfully, the Raptors averted disaster by re-signing both Young and Boucher.
After last year’s playoff exit, the Raptors made improving the bench’s performance a priority. The Raptors’ decision to reinstate these two veterans along with the acquisition of Otto Porter Jr. demonstrates Ujiri’s ability to hold his own without compromising Toronto’s depth.
Now they might just need to tick a legitimate center and more solid support for Fred VanVleet.
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Toronto Raptors 2022 NBA Free Agency Sheet Music
Chris Boucher signing: B
One of the team’s best benchers, Chris Boucher, will stay with the Toronto Raptors on a new contract that will see him earn over $35 million over three years.
With the Raptors, Boucher made nine starts last season and averaged just over 21 minutes per game. He averaged 9.4 points over the course of 80 games while playing primarily as a power forward alongside super rookie Scottie Barnes and star Pascal Siakam.
The 29-year-old has excellent defensive skills, which was underscored by his 6.2 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game last season. He should play an even bigger role and make more productive outings now that he’s signed a new contract.
Thaddeus Young signing: B
With a player from Young’s pedigree, it was believed the Raptors wouldn’t be the only team interested in signing him. However, Young chose to rejoin the Raptors over other Eastern Conference rivals such as the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics. Looking back, Toronto fans should be very lucky that he did.
— NBA Reporter (@RealNBA) June 30, 2022
In many ways, Young’s experience made him the de facto veteran glue man for the Raptors. He anchored the team’s bench, averaging 6.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Solid at both ends, it serves to balance the Raptors’ youth. Paying $8 million for a veteran who can play on both ends was definitely a good team deal.
Of course, it’s also been good for Young, who is probably aware he won’t be averaging 15 points per game at this point in his career. What he has is the opportunity to still be in contention for a title while mentoring the Raptors’ rising stars.
Adding Otto Porter Jr: B
In keeping with the character of the team, the Raptors added another big forward to their roster. Otto Porter Jr. is valuable as a marksman and makes a difference defensively using his long limbs. It will be interesting to see whether he can remain healthy and motivated in a new environment. Remember, Porter put on a really solid showing for Golden State last season. Winning an NBA championship certainly didn’t hurt either.
Porter is moving north and will provide the Raptors with some much-needed quality off the bench. He is expected to be the primary backup for OG Anunoby. The team’s limited offense and inconsistent defense were two pressing issues that needed solving this summer. Porter addresses these to a significant degree.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) July 9, 2022
He averaged 8.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.5 assists per game for the Golden State Warriors last season. He started 15 of 63 games and averaged more than 22 minutes per contest.
His championship experience will also benefit a fairly young Toronto Raptors roster, although he has complementary players who are holdovers from the team’s own 2019 championship. Signing him is another positive step in making Nick Nurse’s side a contender again.
Ujiri should have confidence in these guys because they can jump right into the rotation and make a significant contribution. Looking ahead, however, the team still needs a little more size in midfield. You also need a backup point guard for Fred VanVleet.