Raptors big man Precious Achiuwa has been sidelined since November 9 after sustaining partial ligament tears in his right ankle and will remain on the shelf for the foreseeable future. Head coach Nick Nurse told reporters on Monday that it will be another two or three weeks before the team even has a clearer sense of a timeline for Achiuwa’s return, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.
One silver lining of Achiuwa’s injury is that it has given two other Raptors bigs an opportunity to prove their mettle as regular contributors.
Veteran forward/center Thaddeus Young has averaged 10.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.1 APG, and 1.6 SPG in eight games (26.7 MPG) since Achiuwa went down, while forward Juancho Hernangomez has averaged 6.6 PPG and 6.5 RPG in the same eight games (24.2 MPG). Neither player was a rotation mainstay during the early part of the season.
Here’s more on the Raptors:
- Young and Hernangomez were in the Raptors’ starting five on Monday vs. Cleveland, even with forward Pascal Siakam back in the lineup for the first time in 10 games. As Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca writes, Gary Trent Jr. came off the bench for the first time this season and just the fourth time as a Raptor, while Scottie Barnes was a reserve for the first time in his NBA career.
- Nurse didn’t say whether the new-look lineup would stick beyond Monday’s game, but explained to reporters that he wanted to maintain some continuity and not have so many players who were coming off absences (Siakam, Barnes) or struggling (Trent) in his starting five.
- While both Barnes and Trent said on Monday that they were fine with the change, Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca suggests that Barnes “didn’t seem thrilled about his demotion” to the bench. When he received some push-back on his interpretation, Lewenberg posted the video clip of Barnes addressing the move, tweeting that the reigning Rookie of the Year “didn’t sound like somebody who was psyched about his (temporary) move to the bench.” Lewenberg expects Barnes to be back in the starting five in short order if he shows he’s healthy and can be more consistent.