The Toronto Raptors have caught a nasty case of the injury bug so far this season, yet they have managed to right the ship regardless. All-star starter Pascal Siakam along with Mr. Raptor Kyle Lowry have each missed 11 games and Fred VanVleet has sat out for 10, yet the reigning NBA champions are winners of seven straight and own the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
Their superb 32-14 record is a testament to the team-first culture that exists in Toronto. They have the next man up mentality that has resulted in Toronto remaining atop the standings despite being ravished by injuries. With all that said, the squad still has flaws to address and Detroit Pistons big man Andre Drummond could aid Coach Nick Nurse’s crew in their pursuit of a repeat.
The Raptors rank in the middle of the pack in blocks per game (14th), and they have no players averaging a block or more. Drummond has been one of the NBA’s best shot blockers in recent years, swatting 1.6 shots nightly for his career and 1.8 in 2019-20.
This is double the number of rejections compared to Toronto’s best shot blocker, Pascal Siakim, who is tallying 0.9. Come playoff time, it is crucial to have an imposing force down low who can keep the opponent out of the painted area, Drummond’s presence would further strengthen an already elite defense.
Toronto is not one of the league’s worst at rebounding their own misses, though. At just 18th in the league, it is an area that could certainly be improved. Enter Drummond, who has led the NBA in rebounding three times during his career and is currently collecting 4.5 offensive rebounds per contest. A largely extinct art in today’s game, it can be vitally important to a team’s success, especially in the postseason when each possession is magnified and a few can determine the winner and loser.
Drummond’s uncanny ability to crash the offensive glass would undoubtedly provide the Raptors with a handful of extra shot attempts almost every game, an advantage that would benefit the team greatly as the regular season begins to wind down.
Points in the Paint
The former UConn standout is scoring a career-high 14 points in the paint in 2019-20, which makes up over three-quarters of his 17.3 total points per game mark — tied for Drummond’s career-best. Not only is the 6’10” center consistently getting buckets inside, but he is also doing so with great efficiency. Andre is connecting on 66.3% of his looks at the rim, and only 55% of these buckets have been assisted on.
This means that the Raptors can simply throw the ball to Drummond with his back to the basket, and more often than not the 26-year-old will get a bucket. A dominant above the rim scorer of Dre’s caliber would be yet another weapon on a roster that boasts many offensive threats already.