The Toronto Raptors had one of the busiest free agency periods out of all the teams in the NBA. They added tons of talent with players such as: DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph, Bismack Biyombo, and Luis Scola. All of these players bring a different aspect to the Raptors. A common theme of defensive minded players, something the Raptors had trouble with last season, they had the 19th ranked defense in 2014-2015, but it was their distraction point in the playoffs. Masai Ujiri clearly decided the team needed some defensive upgrades, and he went out and got them. Free agents usually either boom and breakout, or bust and disappoint. I’ll guess which category each of these players will fall in.
DeMarre Carroll, Small Forward:
Carroll was a huge signing this off-season. He got a massive four year, 58 million dollar deal. Carroll will most likely come in and start at the small forward position. This is a massive move for the Raptors as Carroll is a defensive minded 3, something the Raptors desperately need. This move sends Terrence Ross to the bench, and at his natural position of shooting guard. Also, the Ross move made sixth man of the year (and non defender, or passer) Lou Williams expendable. Overall, Carroll’s fit with the Raptors is perfect, he’s a great compliment to DeMar DeRozan.
DeRozan, loves the mid-range shots and driving to the hoop. Carroll on the other hand is a great off-the-ball 3-point shooter– he shot 39.5 percent from three with almost five attempts per game. Though Carroll’s offensive ability will certainly help the Raptors, his presence will be felt much more on the defensive side of the basketball as Carroll is considered one of the best wing defenders in the league.
Overall Carroll should be the perfect addition to the Toronto Raptors and he should make a huge influence. I’d definitely call this a BOOM signing.
Cory Joseph, Point Guard:
Cory Joseph is one of the best stories of the off-season. The Pickering, Ontario native, was reunited with his hometown team the Toronto Raptors. Joseph has done tons of work with the Canadian National Team, and has always been a trade target for the Raptors. As nice of a the story is, the media somewhat blew it out of proportion and some fans seemed to not think about the actual player, but rather his nationality.
Joseph signed a very large 4 year, $30 Million deal which seems like a steep price tag for a backup, especially for a player who played a career high 18 minutes per game last season with the Spurs. Joseph was stuck under Tony Parker, and Patty Mills (who got paid a much smaller three year, $13 Million deal just last season).
Another worry, could be that Joseph played in the San Antonio Spurs historic system. It’s hard to think of players who thrived in that system then went on to a new team and succeeded, however, Joseph is only 23 and has tons of room and time to develop and improve his game. He’s also known for fearless drives to the rim and great defensive ability. I’m not saying I think Joseph will fail in Toronto, I just think it’s more likely to be a BUST rather than a boom, especially with that salary.
Bismack Biyombo, Center:
Biyombo was considered one of the best prospects in the 2011 NBA Draft. Taken 7th overall, the hopes were high with Biyombo, who was taken over the likes of Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Markieff Morris, Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Reggie Jackson, and Jimmy Butler. All of these players have played exceptionally better than Biyombo, who is known for being a great defensive presence with good shot blocking instincts (1.5 BPG in 2015).
Shot blocking is something the Raptors lack so Biyombo should definitely help. He is only 22 and still has tons of time to develop as a player. Biyombo limits opponents to a field goal percentage of 49.1 at the rim, higher than players like Marc Gasol and Brandan Wright. The downfall with Biyombo is offensive production– he struggles to score at all areas of the court, he can’t shoot, drive, dribble, or even catch the ball particularly well.
Biyombo only averaged 18 minutes per game last season with Charlotte. Given a larger role he could really thrive. Not only does he fit what the Raptors need, the Raptors fit what he needs as a player in order to succeed. This has potential to be a huge breakout situation, that’s why I’m giving it a BOOM.
Luis Scola, Power Forward:
Scola was an under the radar signing for Toronto after he signed a one year, $3 Million deal on July 9th with the Raptors. The 35 year old power forward took a short term deal to be a stop-gap solution to join a front-court rotation with Patrick Patterson, Jonas Valanciunas, Bismack Biyombo, Lucas “Bebe” Nogueira, and possibly Bruno Caboclo. Scola brings a veteran element to the Raptors, as he is the oldest player on the team now.
The idea is for Scola to come in and compete with Patrick Patterson for the starting gig, but Patterson should close/play more minutes either way. As a player, Scola is a very good mid-range shooter (40 percent from 16-24 feet) and a decent rebounder (6.5 RPG) while grabbing 60 percent of rebounds he has a chance at and 40 percent of rebounds contested.
The downfall with Scola is his defense, Scola has lost much of his athleticism over the years, and now is somewhat of a liability defensively. Most of the off-season the Raptors were signing defensive minded players, so this decision makes little sense. Scola also will eat away minutes from young players like: Jonas Valanciunas, Bismack Biyombo, Lucas Nogueira, and Patrick Patterson.
Scola’s game is also very comparable to Patrick Patterson, they both are good shooters, decent rebounders but nothing special defensively, but if you’re wondering who should get minutes between Patterson or Scola, it’s not very close, Patterson is a far superior player.
I’m giving this signing a BUST because Scola’s defensive ability doesn’t fit the new makeup of the Raptors and he’s taking minutes away from younger, superior players.