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Summer school for the bench: Toronto Raptors Report Cards

I don’t want to disparage my fellow writers here on The Raptors Insider, but for a team who didn’t make the playoffs our grades have been pretty forgiving to say the least.

And hey, that’s okay! Just looking at the name of our website it’s not hard to tell that we love the Raptors, with that being said I don’t think it is fair for the loyal readers of The Raptors Insider if we don’t acknowledge the elephant in the room: the Toronto Raptors were bad this season.

And just to get on top of this early, I totally understand all of the variables involved that made this season less than ideal for Toronto.

A COVID outbreak at a very inopportune time, playing in Florida and essentially having 72 road games 100 percent contributed to inconsistent and overall bad basketball from the team – those factors make for a great scapegoat.

But guys… we can’t blame everything on those outside distractions – I will say this one more time to be clear – the hand they were dealt SUCKED but it’s not like their roster was ever THAT impressive… especially when you look at their bench rotation.

Offence: F

“Oh my gosh Hugh, thats such an over-reaction, you’re such a hater the Raptors bench was awesome”

– Everyone reading this

The Raptors bench was not awesome this year. In fact, offensively speaking, they were pretty much the worst.

Based off of stats provided by the appropriately named website hoopsstats.com, the Toronto Raptors bench ranked dead last in the NBA for minutes played and points per game averaging roughly 16 minutes and 30 points per contest.

I can’t consciously give a group of bench players a passing grade if you rank below the Cleveland Cavaliers in ANY category – let alone two.

Again, not an ideal year for Toronto (I can’t stress the fact that I totally get that enough) but still, if we really look at who played on the Raptors bench would they have been that much better in a normal year?

Probably not.

Looking at the time when Raptors fans could actually use the term “Bench Mob” un-ironically, they had some serious contributors: Serge Ibaka, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, and Norman Powell all filled the role of bench player/occasional starter perfectly.

This year, the Raptors had Stanley Johnson, Yuta Watanabe, DeAndre’ Bembry and others fill that role, and the stats speak for themselves.

They were simply not good enough to make a big enough difference on the floor.

Defence: D

I couldn’t give two failing grades so I compromised.

The only reason why Toronto’s bench didn’t fail is because at least they weren’t last in most defensive categories like they were with the offense.

No, instead of being the worst, the Raptors bench hovers around the bottom ten in terms of defensive efficiency, rebounds, steals and personal fouls per game.

As implied, at least it’s better than last place.

But it does make sense. Other than Stanley Johnson who on the Raptors bench can be trusted to defend… anyone?

Yuta’s only highlight on defence was unforgettable for many reasons, and you have to think if they had better defenders that probably wouldn’t have happened?

That’s probably a reach.

Likability: A+

In one more attempt to mitigate the hate I will receive once this article is published: me writing about how downright awful these bench players have played this year does not mean I think they are a group of stand out dudes. I really enjoyed watching the Toronto Raptors bench any time they weren’t playing.

Yuta Watanabe introduced a whole country to Raptors basketball. Stanley Johnson, despite not being good at ball played the “teachers pet” role perfectly and DeAndre’ Bembry was just cool.

So please don’t take me pointing out the fact that the Toronto Raptors really didn’t have much of a bench to work with this year as a hate crime, I’m literally just reading stats.

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