With Kawhi Leonard gone from Toronto, veteran big man Marc Gasol becomes even more important to the Raptors’ success this season and beyond than he was during the team’s memorable run to a title during the 2018/19 campaign, writes Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer.
With Leonard back home in California, forward Pascal Siakam becomes the undisputed future of the Raptors, with his development into a star of paramount concern for Toronto’s long term outlook. And as Tjarks analyzes, Siakam is at his best – or at least was last year – when playing alongside Gasol.
For one, Siakam loves to put the ball on the floor and attack the rim, so it’s important to play him with a center who can shoot well enough from the outside to drag Siakam’s defender out of the paint.
Additionally, Siakam is not yet an elite play-maker, so it helps to have other players like Gasol around him who can keep everyone else involved in the offense while Siakam plays in attack mode.
Finally, Gasol provides a large body that Toronto can use during the regular season to bang with big Eastern Conference centers like Joel Embiid over the course of an 82-game season. As Tjarks analogizes, Gasol essentially acts as a lead blocker for Siakam, clearing obstacles for Siakam to thrive.
There’s more tonight from the Eastern Conference:
- With his daughter relatively nearby in Charlotte and a future in broadcasting in mind, Hawks guard Vince Carter told The Ringer’s Winging It podcast (h/t to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) that returning to Atlanta was a great opportunity for him to begin focusing on life after basketball while still playing a final season in the NBA.
- After agreeing to one-year contract with free agent guard Kobi Simmons, the Hornets G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, acquired the 22-year-old Arizona product’s NBAGL rights, per Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.
- Free agent forward Trevor Booker attended his scheduled workout with the Bucks this week, reports Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. The Bucks only have 14 players on guaranteed contracts, so it’s possible Booker could end up competing with Dragan Bender for Milwaukee’s final standard roster spot if he signs with the club.