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The Toronto Raptors are better off with Aron Baynes out of the rotation

It has now been seven straight games for Toronto Raptors centre Aron Baynes where he’s been listed as a “did not play — coach’s decision.” It has been a challenging season for Baynes trying to find his role with the Raptors and the new additions of Khem Birch and Freddie Gillespie have forced Baynes out of Nick Nurse’s rotation entirely.

Following up a career year

Being brought in as a replacement for Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol is no doubt a tough act to follow, but Baynes has definitely not played up to his full capabilities with the Raptors.

After a career year with the Phoenix Suns last season, Baynes’ season averages have been down in almost every major category.

2019-2020PHX11.5 PTS5.6 REB1.6 AST
2020-2021TOR5.8 PTS5.1 REB0.9 AST

Baynes has been in the starting lineup 31 times this season and has managed to post a double-double just once, back on March 11th in a one-point loss against the Atlanta Hawks. In 28 starts last season with the Suns, Baynes had four double-doubles.

Fan club cult following

Baynes has proven to be a solid role player during his tenures with the Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and the San Antonio Spurs.

During those nine seasons in the NBA, Baynes has gained somewhat of a cult following. The comedic Unofficial Aron Baynes Fan Club on Twitter actually has more followers than Baynes himself.

The Baynes Fan Club has shown unwavering support for the Raptors this season and still, they have had to respond to an unnecessary amount of hate they have been receiving for celebrating all of Baynes’ small victories.

Have the Raptors been better without him?

The Unofficial Aron Baynes Fan Club was quick to point out that the Raptors fell to 0-2 in their first two recent games with Baynes on the bench as a DNP.

The tweet didn’t age well and the Raptors are now 4-3 in their last seven games with Baynes remaining on the bench. By all means, It’s not a great record to brag about, and the Raptors are just 5-5 on the season when Baynes doesn’t play.

But 5-5 is still a record of .500 and the Raptors’ new additions have brought some much-needed energy to the team.

In his eight games with the Raptors, Freddie Gillespie has already won over the heart of Raptors’ fans; registering a game with five blocks, giving a hilarious sound bite in an interview and showing off his dance moves while singing along to Miley Cyrus’ Party in the USA during an embarrassing rookie initiation challenge.

Meanwhile, Montreal native Khem Birch has stepped into the starting lineup these past five games and the Raptors have gone 4-1 in that stretch. Birch has averaged 8.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in those five games.

Those numbers haven’t been jaw-dropping, but if you have been watching the games you know that his size and athleticism have made a huge difference for the Raptors on both ends of the floor.

The Raptors new additions of Birch and Gillespie haven’t solved the Raptors front court troubles entirely, but they have both brought something new to the table and the fans are appreciating it too.

With just 12 games remaining on the Raptor’s schedule, it’s hard to say when, or even if, we might see Baynes back on the floor this season.

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