Photo credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
The Toronto Raptors got their first look at their new squad during last night’s wire to wire loss to the Phoenix Suns. Toronto’s latest trade acquisitions Gary Trent Jr. (eight points) and Rodney Hood (two points) stepped into the Raptors’ rotation replacing Norman Powell and as expected both players were trying to find their roles.
It was definitely nice to see Trent and Hood help deepen the Raptors’ rotation, but Phoenix was still able to utilize their big man Deandre Ayton (19 points on 9/12 shooting) and capitalize on Toronto’s lack of a paint presence.
Still needing a big man
The lack of size in the Raptors’ rotation is an issue that has plagued the team all season. Many had hoped that the Raptors would make a move for a big man at the trade deadline but it doesn’t mean they can’t find some help in that department in the buyout market.
Prioritizing young players
But the moves the Raptors made show they are prioritizing the future and the younger players on the team. Powell was averaging over 30 minutes a game with the Raptors this season and those minutes will be spread around to several players. Trent Jr. and Hood will fill most of those minutes along with rookie guard Malachi Flynn.
Trent Jr. is only 22 years old and will be a focal point for the Raptors’ future as a starter. Coincidentally, Trent’s father was also traded to the Raptors early in his career and he sounds thrilled to be following in his father’s footsteps while also getting an increased opportunity to develop his game.
All around, Trent Jr. on the Raptors seems like a good fit going forward and most of the Raptors core guys are locked in for the future. The Raptors traded away Powell at the deadline likely because of the fact that he will be paid more than the Raptors would be willing to spend on him this offseason.
The one topic of conversation going forward will of course be the future of Kyle Lowry, who the Raptors decided to hold on to at the deadline despite the fact several teams were interested in trading for him.
Lowry has been a leader for the Raptors during this seven-year playoff streak; the most successful stretch in franchise history. As Lowry said, the Raptors value him, but we’ll have to see what the value of a new contract will have to be for him to sign another extension this summer.
Every loss makes it harder to imagine the Raptors in the playoff picture. They may only be two games out of the final play-in spot right now, but that shouldn’t be their priority moving forward. Finding players to fill out their weaknesses and continuing to develop their young players has to be the main focus for the rest of the season.