The Toronto Raptors had a tough decision to make when they got rid of Terrence Ross, but it was highly necessary
Terrence Ross was an energizer on the Toronto Raptors bench, as he averaged 10.4 points per game on a slash line of .441/.375/.820 in 22.4 minutes. Turning Ross, and a 2017 first-round pick, into Serge Ibaka was an absolute requirement for the Raptors heading into the trade deadline.
Patrick Patterson‘s absence was one reason the Raptors needed to get Ibaka. They lost an ample amount of defense at the power forward slot to go along with Patterson’s 7.1 points per game.
As a result, Ibaka came through to Toronto, providing 17 points and eight rebounds per game in five contests. He has also managed to carry over his defensive presence with one block and one steal per game, his most desirable qualities.
Ibaka’s on an expiring contract, unfortunately, but the Raptors don’t necessarily have to be concerned with that. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are getting older, though the latter appears to be entering his prime playing years. As of right now, the Raptors look primed to be the Cavaliers’ purest rival this postseason.
Ibaka was the first component to this puzzle.
P. J. Tucker was the second piece to join the Toronto Raptors at the deadline. The Suns sent Tucker for Jared Sulilnger and two second-round picks, a small price to pay for a player with defensive consistency. Tucker won’t bring much in terms of scoring, but his 1.7 steals boast a good statistic for the Raptors coming off the bench.
Like Ibaka, Tucker’s contract is about to expire, but he brings a crucial component to the Raptors that they need now. Tucker replaces Ross with extensive range and defensive prowess. Ibaka steps in for Patterson, who will now play off the bench, pushing more talented players to the second unit.
Now that Lowry’s injured, and he’s likely to miss the remainder of the season, the playoffs look a little dim for Toronto.
Yet, they have enough talent on the roster to make up for Lowry’s absence. There are also some guards in free agency they could pursue to lessen the burden on Cory Joseph‘s shoulders. A move like this remains to be seen.