After losing Kawhi Leonard in the offseason, the Toronto Raptors are no longer considered title contenders. Oddsmakers have ranked ten or more teams ahead of the Canadian franchise to win the title this season. Even fans have lowered their expectations. A chance of championship repeat looks like a long shot for the team in the North.
Sitting at number four in the East, the Raptors are already overachieving. They may make the playoffs but in order to defend their title, the front office needs to add a big piece to the roster.
Fortunately, rumors are swirling that Detroit’s prized All-Star Andre Drummond is available.
Toronto relies heavily on the quickness of its guards and forwards. Over 80% of the team’s points come from the combination of Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Norman Powell . These guys are effective because they can get out in the break.
Drummond’s arrival would push the Raptors to the zenith of run and gun game. How? Well to run, you’ll need to secure the defensive rebound. Andre Drummond is the undisputed league leader in this department with 15.8 rebounds per game .
Toronto currently sits at number 11 in terms of rebounds per game . With Drummond manning the paint, he can get more possessions for the Raptors and possibly push the team ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks to take the top spot in fastbreak points per game . He would be a huge improvement from other Raptor big men such as Serge Ibaka (8.2 rebounds per game) and Marc Gasol (6.6 rebounds per game) .
The Toronto Raptors shoot a lot of threes. The team is currently fifth in the league with 39.5 points from beyond the arc this season . Guards like Lowry and VanVleet rely on pick and roll screens and off ball screens to get a good look at the basket.
Andre Drummond’s wide frame would give Toronto’s shooters more room to operate. If the defender goes under the screen, the ball handler has the space to jack up the three.
If the defender fights over the screen, Andre Drummond can simply roll to the basket for an easy jam.
On top of pick and roll basketball, Drummond’s big body is perfect for setting up off ball screens. Nick Nurse often asks his big men to set bone crushing screens to free up shooters.
Sure, Gasol and Ibaka are providing these services. Drummond would be a tremendous upgrade because the two-time All-Star is a mobile center who can put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket in case the pick and roll offense stalls.
Drummond’s value for the Raptors would be magnified in the postseason. The East haS a lot of beasts, such as Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Bam Adebayo. With Andre in the lineup, the Raptors may be able to neutralize these talented bigs in a seven-game series.
It won’t just be on the defensive end. Drummond can also exhaust the opposing team’s big guys by scoring in the paint. Andre can muscle his way inside to either draw the foul or score near the basket. His inside presence would be tremendous for the Raptors because, let’s face it, the three point bomb will not always fall. If the shooters are having a bad day, they can rely on Andre to attack the rim.
Leonard used to play this role for the Raptors. His departure left a big hole to fill. Drummond can plug that hole and more.