The Toronto Raptors have so far done what they need to do in 2022 NBA free agency, but has the needle moved for them in the right direction?
If Masai Ujiri had not been sufficiently prepared, the Toronto Raptors may have lost key players Thaddeus Young and Chris Boucher in the first few weeks of free agency. Fortunately, the Raptors averted calamity by re-signing both Young and Boucher.
Following last year’s playoff exit, the Raptors made it a priority to improve the bench’s performance. The Raptors’ decision to re-up on both of those veterans along with the acquisition of Otto Porter Jr. demonstrates Ujiri’s ability to hold his own without compromising Toronto’s depth.
Now, maybe the only two boxes they need to check are adding a legitimate center and a more solid backup for Fred VanVleet.
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Toronto Raptors 2022 NBA Free Agency Grades
Re-signing Chris Boucher: B
Chris Boucher, one of the team’s finest bench players, will stay with the Toronto Raptors via a new contract that will pay him over $35 million over three years.
With the Raptors last season, Boucher made nine starts and played an average of slightly over 21 minutes per game. Over the course of 80 games, he tallied 9.4 points while mostly playing as a power forward alongside super rookie Scottie Barnes and star Pascal Siakam.
The 29-year-old has great defensive abilities, which were underscored by 6.2 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game from last season. He should have an even bigger role and have more productive outings now that he’s been signed to a new deal.
Re-signing Thaddeus Young: B
With a player of Young’s pedigree, it was believed that the Raptors wouldn’t be the only team interested in signing him. Young, however, chose to rejoin the Raptors over other Eastern Conference rivals like the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics. Looking back, Toronto fans should consider themselves extremely lucky that he did.
— NBA Reporter (@RealNBA) June 30, 2022
In many ways, given his experience, Young was the de facto veteran glue guy for the Raptors. He anchored the team’s bench and averaged 6.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game. He is solid on both ends and serves to balance the Raptors’ youth. It was definitely a good team deal to pay $8 million for a veteran who can play on both ends.
Of course, it was also good for Young, who is probably aware that at this point in his career, he won’t be averaging 15 points a game anymore. What he does have is an opportunity to still contend for a title while mentoring the Raptors’ rising stars.
Adding Otto Porter Jr: B
Sahil Kurup ·
In keeping with the team’s character, the Raptors added yet another tall forward to their roster. Otto Porter Jr has value as a shooter and makes a difference defensively by using his long limbs. It will be interesting to see whether he can stay healthy and motivated in a new setting. Recall that Porter is coming off a really solid outing for Golden State this past season. Winning an NBA championship surely did not hurt, too.
Moving up north, Porter will provide the Raptors some much-needed quality off the bench. He is projected to be the primary backup for OG Anunoby. The team’s limited offense and inconsistent defense were two pressing issues that needed to be resolved this summer. Porter addresses those to a significant degree.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) July 9, 2022
He contributed 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 played more than 22 minutes per contest on average.
His championship experience will also benefit a fairly young Toronto Raptors roster, despite having complementary players who are remnants of the team’s own 2019 championship. Signing him is another positive step towards making Nick Nurse’s side a contender once again.
Ujiri should feel confident in these guys because they can enter the rotation straight away and make a significant contribution. Looking ahead, however, the team is still in need of some more size at the center spot. They also need a backup point guard for Fred VanVleet.