Okay, this feels like a pointless exercise … since Colangelo is settled, or close to, on his roster for the start of training camp … but I can’t help it so here we go.
I think the Raptors could benefit from making a couple more small moves — losing some of the dead weight on the end of their roster, and then signing a couple of solid minimum contract players who’ll provide more impact for the Raptors.
Here’s a few small moves Toronto could make to flesh out their bench
Toronto have 14 players on their roster currently. They can only depend on 10 of those players, and I think one of those 10 guys isn’t good enough to be a rotation worthy player on a team with solid depth.
The guys who I consider to be dead weight are — Marcus Banks, Roko Ukic, Quincy Douby and Patrick O’Bryant.
I’d like to see the Raptors remove at least three of those players from the squad. I don’t think O’Bryant is good enough to play in the NBA, so he’s an easy call. Then it’s a choice between the three point guards. I’d like to see Banks removed from the equation, because I hold zero hope for him coming good at this stage of his career whereas there’s still some hope for both Roko + Douby to improve. I’d be happy with either Roko or Douby in the third string slot, but I’d prefer to keep Roko.
Since Toronto have no luxury tax concerns on the immediate horizon, they could just waive the players they’re no longer interested in and comfortably sign minimum contract replacements.
There are two players who I think will sign minimum contract deals next season who I’d like to see the Raptors show some interest in — Ime Udoka and Keith Bogans.
I think either one of those players immediately becomes the Raptors first wing off the bench. For me, their superior defense makes them an upgrade over Belinelli, and their superior all-round games make them much better options than Antoine Wright.
Keith Bogans is a slightly above average defender (like Wright), while Udoka is a good-to-very good defender. Udoka is an excellent rebounder for a two guard, and a good rebounder for a small forward. Keith Bogans is a very good rebounder for a two guard, and slightly below average but serviceable rebounder for a three. Offensively, both players are little more than stand still jump shooters, but that’s fine for a role player. They’re both solid shooters, although Udoka struggled with his shot last year but I think that’s only a temporary blip.
My first choice would be Ime Udoka, but I’d be very happy with either player.
The Big Men
Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani combined to give Toronto one of the worst pick and roll defenses in the league. I don’t understand the logic in Toronto then proceeding to sign two slow footed bigs in Reggie Evans and Rasho Nesterovic to back them up.
I was a big fan of bringing back Pops Mensah-Bonsu, because I thought an athletic big man like himself could help improve the pick and roll defense, while also offering a different look for the Raptors to throw at the opposition. Ergo, I’d like to see the Raptors bring back Pops to be the fifth big in the Raptors big man rotation.
I would then like to see the Raptors sign a sixth big man to provide more heft and size for whenever the Raptors needed a true third string center option. A couple of names I’d like Colangelo to look at would be — James Augustine, Adonal Foyle, Brian Skinner, Jason Collins.
I’m not sure who my favourite from that group would be. I think Collins would be the best locker room presence, and a good defender who’d help the Raptors work on their D in practices. Foyle would likely prove too hard a sell, I don’t expect him to leave Orlando without being offered a larger role elsewhere. I’m partial to a guy like Augustine, a guy who’s a very good rebounder, works his socks off, and is fighting for his NBA life. I like having workers like that at the end of my roster, so I think he’s my first choice.
Starting Five — Calderon – DeRozan – Turkoglu – Bosh – Bargnani
Rotation Players — Ten man rotation
- First guard off bench — Jarrett Jack
- First wing off bench — Ime Udoka or Keith Bogans
- Second wing off bench — Marco Belinelli
- First big off bench — Reggie Evans
- Second big off bench — Rasho Nesterovic
Rest Of Roster
- Third string point guard — Roko Ukic or Quincy Douby
- Fifth wing in rotation — Antoine Wright
- Fifth big in rotation — Pops Mensah-Bonsu
- Sixth big in rotation — James Augustine … or Jason Collins or Adonal Foyle or Brian Skinner
That would get the Raptors to 14 players. I’d keep the final roster spot open in case of emergency (injury) during the season, or a quality player becoming available at a later date.
I think some small moves like these three minimum contract signings would do a lot to boost the Raptors depth beyond their first choice rotation players.
I also think a good defender, good rebounder, a solid shooter on the wing (Udoka or Bogans) would be an upgrade over their two present options in Belinelli + Wright and would provide a further boost to their regular rotation players.
I think these moves would help improve the Raptors overall depth. I’d be very happy to see Bryan Colangelo make some additions along these lines, rather than standing still with the guys he’s currently got.