The Toronto Raptors will have a significant piece missing for an extended period of time. Prized center Jonas Valanciunas will be out for approximately 6 weeks after breaking a finger in his non-shooting hand. JV has averaged 12.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game on an efficient 55.6% shooting. This was achieved in just 27.3 minutes per game – his per 36 is approximately 17 and 12.
The fact of the matter is, JV is the Raptors most efficient player, and on some nights, the Raptors’ most valuable player. He is the guy you hate to lose the most because he’s not easily replaced as a big center. With a relatively slim frontcourt, especially after Amir Johnson’s departure, the Raptors may have a serious problem coping with the injury. Dwane Casey will need to be creative – that’s a scary thought.
Here are some names that will need to step in:
Casey loves Bismack, for some reason. He provides little utility offensively, and while he’s an intimidating force inside, he’s not particularly intelligent defensively. He really is suited more for the role Chuck Hayes was in last year – however we should expect 25 minutes a night at least for BB. To be honest, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try and cut that as much as possible, especially against smaller teams.
This guy was a great addition. Scola, while not as physically gifted as Biyombo, is a very smart player on both ends. He rebounds well, can give you some offense, and really understands what he’s doing. Offensively, he is the one that can fill in JV’s void the most. The Raptors will need some sort of inside scoring presence to help their offense tick – let’s hope Luis can provide that. I would definitely be ok with seeing Scola hitting at least 30 minutes a night, while even playing a little bit of center.
2Pat has quickly gone from a fan favorite to a frustrating player. It’s so sad to see because he is such an awesome guy. There’s something missing this year – perhaps he isn’t as engaged because he lost the starting job. Patterson is averaging 20 minutes a game and is contributing just over 5 points a game – last year his scoring output was nearly double paired with much more efficient numbers. Regardless, now would certainly be a convenient time to break out of his slump as Patterson should see an increase in minutes. A Scola – Patterson frontcourt isn’t the worst sounding thing in the world.
JJ hasn’t gotten a lot of burn this year, thus far. However, he can definitely slide into a power forward slot with one of the aforementioned playing center. He’s shown to be a capable defender, and a decent asset offensively. He’s certainly physical, and athletic enough to match-up with most guys.
Lucas ‘Bebe’ Nogueria
This one is obviously a bit of a wild card. Bebe has been with the Raptors since last summer. He’s played solely in garbage time, similar to his fellow Brazilian ‘long term prospect’ Bruno Caboclo. Bebe is 23, and is not exactly a polished player. He was just called up from the D-League, likely as an insurance player for the bench. But it is possible that he surprises us and provides a solid 10-15 minutes a night in relief.
Ultimately, the Raptors are going to need a lot of players to step up to fill in for JV. Even still, it’s likely that we see some sort of drop off, especially offensively and on the glass. Hopefully this doesn’t mean more iso-ball, and less inside and out play.
What I think the Raps will especially miss is JV’s 4th quarter presence. Sarcasm aside, let’s hope the Raps can stay afloat without their best big.