Toronto Raptors: Masai Ujiri Quietly Improving Front Court, Has Plenty of Youth and Upside
The Toronto Raptors have quietly begun to start something good this summer. New general manager Masai Ujiri has come on board and made some moves that have put the franchise into a much better spot going forward.
Starting with trading the contract of Andrea Bargnani and then using the amnesty clause on Linas Kleiza, Ujiri has cleared up some much-needed cash for the team going forward. Aside from that, he’s placed a couple more guys down low to join an already-young front court on the rise.
Bringing in former Indiana Pacers power forward Tyler Hansbrough and former Memphis Grizzlies big man Austin Daye have both been solid, under-the-radar moves that give the Raptors some great depth in the front court. Hansbrough and Daye join Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas in the paint where the rotation just got a lot better.
Hansbrough is the oldest of the four at 27 and brings a toughness and tenacity on the court that the Pacers will definitely miss. He’s not a flashy guy nor is he going to give you a double-double most nights, he will just make sure he’s playing 100 miles per hour every second of his time on the floor.
Daye has only averaged around 15 minutes per game during his four year career, but at the age of 25 he still has plenty of upside. The 6’11” big man is an athletic guy that can come in for a few minutes per game and give Toronto a bucket or two and a couple of rebounds. He will have an opportunity for more minutes now in Toronto and could prove to be a very good rotation player.
Johnson and Valanciunas will have much of the load on their shoulders in 2013 to score at a higher level down low. If Valanciunas’ summer league was any indication of what he can do next season, the Raptors will be excited to have him on the floor. Johnson has proved to be an efficient forward as of late and put up the best season of his career in 2012.
Ujiri has done a lot with a little, to sum it up. He is in the business of making Toronto a place where players want to play. Grabbing a few smaller names this summer was probably the best he could do, but they will definitely prove to be better additions than what some may think.
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