It's only natural to expect a team to take a step back after losing its best player. However, despite losing Kawhi Leonard in the offseason, the defending-champion Toronto Raptors are still in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff hunt as the new year approaches.
At 21-10, the Raptors sit in fourth place in the East and behind yet another breakout year from power forward Pascal Siakam, Toronto has maintained its reputation as one of the better teams in the league.
With that said, nothing is perfect and a team can always be improved. The NBA trade deadline is a little more than a month away, and here are two players the Raptors might want to consider.
It simply hasn't been a good year for Marc Gasol. The veteran big man will be 35 years old next month and it's clear that his best days are behind him. Gasol has been terribly inefficient scoring the ball, averaging a career-low 6.6 points per game on a putrid 36.4 shooting percentage.
Dedmon signed a three-year deal with Sacramento Kings this offseason. After a breakout season with the Hawks the year prior, the seven-footer was expected to be a major contributor for the Kings.
That simply hasn't happened as the relationship between Dedmon and Sacramento head coach Luke Walton has reportedly soured, which may be good for the Raptors.
Toronto ranks outside the top 20 in the league in rebounding percentage and Dedmon can definitely help fix that. The former USC product averaged 11.8 rebounds per 36 minutes for his career and is a better option than Gasol at this point in the season.
This one would make a bigger splash. The Raptors rank in the middle of the league in terms of offensive rating — a scorer of Gallinari's caliber would give the Raptors a huge boost in that category. The Oklahoma City Thunder were expected to be a bottom team in the league. Instead, OKC is 16-15 and in the seventh spot in the Western Conference.
A Gallinari trade likely depends on Oklahoma City's playoff chances, but if the team begins to fall down the standings, they could look to add more future draft picks and young talent for the future.
At 31 years old, the 6-foot-10 Italian is still as effective as ever. In 30.5 minutes per game, Gallinari is putting up 18.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting nearly 40 percent from deep.
An OG Anunoby and Gallinari duo on the wings would create a fearsome tandem of defense and offense and could help solidify the Raptors as true contenders in the East.