How do you like your wings? Finding help for the bench in the off-season

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The Toronto Raptors have an interesting and potentially exciting off-season awaiting them. With notable roster openings at center and the need for shot creators, we’re sure to see Masai Ujiri actively pursuing free agents and trade partners around the league to bring his team back to prominence.

Another one of those roster needs is a dependable wing off the bench. The Raptors were dead last in the NBA last year in points-per-game from the bench with 30, and 25th in the league in efficiency with 38.1. If they want to compete in the East, they’ll have to boost their bench production significantly.

So here’s a look at potential wings that Toronto can add to the team this off-season.

Kelly Oubre Jr.

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This is a bold call, for sure. Kelly Oubre Jr. has risen to prominence over the last three years following a surprisingly successful stint with the Phoenix Suns. After a taking a slight step back during tough 2021 season with Golden State, Oubre is betting on himself in free agency. A return to the Bay Area seems unlikely, so the 25 year-old will be one of the more interesting names to look out for in free agency. Coming off a salary of $15 million, it looks like he’ll be expecting a raise on his next deal. He seemed unhappy with his role under Steve Kerr, and will likely expect to be a starter with his next team. While he’ll bring solid two-way play to whatever team he’ll suit up for, there are questions over whether he can be trusted consistently to provide offence. He shot only 43.9 per cent from the field last season, including an unreliable 31.6 per cent from three-point range. Despite the poor shooting, he did pitch in 15.4 points-per-game, which is the type of production that Toronto’s bench can really use. Still, I’d be shocked to see Oubre sign with Toronto come August.

Otto Porter Jr.

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Otto Porter Jr. won’t produce at the level Kelly Oubre would, but this is a player who understands his role and plays to his abilities. When looking for a wing to come off the bench, Porter is the kind of guy the Raptors should target. The 28 year-old is a career 40.2 per cent shooter from deep, and averaged 9.7 points-per-game last season, split between Chicago and Orlando. Coming off a huge contract paying him $28.4 million a year, Porter will definitely be asking for a significantly cheaper deal, as his value has never been lower. Standing at 6-foot-8, with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Porter has a great NBA frame that can make a difference defending on the perimeter. While his defensive numbers have fallen since he entered the league, his athleticism and size will help him stay in front of ball-handlers. I think Bobby Webster and Masai Ujiri should take a good look at bringing Otto Porter Jr. in as a 3&D guy off the bench.

Doug McDermott

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Dougie McBuckets fits his nickname perfectly. A certified Raptor-killer, McDermott is known as a lights-out shooter from deep, coming off a career-high 13.6 points-per-game and 38.8 per cent efficiency from beyond the arc. At 6-foot-7 and 225lbs, the 29 year-old has the size to play up and down the lineup. While his defensive play is nothing to write home about, his offensive ability would make a huge impact in raising the production of the bench. Paired with a good passer, he can be a real threat come off of picks and sinking catch-and-shoot opportunities on the perimeter. His play-type might be redundant if Gary Trent Jr. re-signs with Toronto, but I’m sure McDermott will get a good look from the Raptors’ brass.

Rudy Gay

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Hear me out. I really think a reunion with Rudy Gay could be a good move for Toronto. The 34 year-old has just come off a productive season off the bench for San Antonio, albeit on a poor Spurs team. The 6-foot-8 former UConn Husky averaged 11.4 points-per-game, while shooting 38.1 per cent from three, as well as grabbing 4.8 rebounds per contest. Gay has always been a productive player on offence, and it’s good to see he’s developed a more than reliable outside shot to keep up with the trends of the league. He was also a defensive leader for Gregg Popovich’s squad and would bring solid two-way play to Toronto’s bench minutes. He’ll likely be looking for a deal near the $10 million figure, and if he decides not to re-sign with San Antonio after four seasons in Texas, the Raptors should consider bringing him in to solidify the rotation.

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