The Raptors won't have the worst bench in the league next season

Raptors coach Nick Nurse relied heavily on his starters throughout last season in large part because he wasn't getting consistent production from players off the bench. That shouldn't be the case next season. Listen to the full podcast looking at exciting storylines heading into the 2022-23 season on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed or watch on our YouTube channel.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: First topic, Katie, the Raptors seem to have a bench.

KATIE HEINDL: Mm-hmm.

AMIT MANN: They might actually have a bench. Wow. Last season, their bench played the least amount of minutes in the NBA at 14.4 minutes per game, and they also produced the least amount of points. But maybe this season is just a little bit different. Maybe. Your thoughts.

KATIE HEINDL: Didn't we call it the-- it was like a metaphysical bench or something. It was more of like a theory of a bench last season.

AMIT MANN: Yes.

KATIE HEINDL: Yeah, it was quite loose, and it was never-- there was a feeling that it would eventually crystallize or make a little bit of sense, and it didn't. And now it has by some ruthless moves, probably to some.

AMIT MANN: Ooh.

KATIE HEINDL: I'm so sad to see-- I expected it, but I was still sad to see Yuta cut loose. Svi recently cut loose.

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

KATIE HEINDL: Probably a lot more people going into training camp. But yes, I think for those fundamental bench pieces-- we're talking about picking up Otto Porter Jr.

AMIT MANN: Ooh, good one.

KATIE HEINDL: He's going to look-- yeah, he's gonna look great on the bench. I actually don't know--

AMIT MANN: [LAUGHS]

KATIE HEINDL: I was going to--

AMIT MANN: That was amazing that you said that.

KATIE HEINDL: Why?

AMIT MANN: He's going to look great on the bench.

KATIE HEINDL: He's going to look great on the bench.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, he will.

KATIE HEINDL: He's going to play great coming off the bench.

AMIT MANN: Yes, yes.

KATIE HEINDL: How about that? He's also--

AMIT MANN: Yes.

KATIE HEINDL: --going to look great. I've seen him-- I saw him at Summer League in his Roots head to toe, sitting on the bench. He looked great. He's super casual.

AMIT MANN: In Vegas?

KATIE HEINDL: Yes, and the heat--

AMIT MANN: 40 degrees or whatever it is, and the man is wearing a Roots.

KATIE HEINDL: 109 degrees outside, and he came through up in Roots.

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

KATIE HEINDL: No, I did-- the Raptors are going to have a bench, which is--

AMIT MANN: Yes.

KATIE HEINDL: --going to be great. If we wanna cast way ahead-- why not-- to the playoffs, that's great because--

AMIT MANN: Uh-huh.

KATIE HEINDL: --everybody just gets so tired when you don't have a bench. You don't have the manpower, and that usually equals staying power. And you did see it kind of come and hurt the Raptors, I'd say, in the regular season--

AMIT MANN: Sure.

KATIE HEINDL: --just with injuries and COVID and--

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

KATIE HEINDL: --things that we obviously hope to not see so much of this season. But I'm excited for the bench. I still-- I will be honest. It's still a big question mark in terms of how Nick Nurse intends to structure it. I think it's a bit of a question mark to him, too, based on some of the things he said in--

AMIT MANN: Sure.

KATIE HEINDL: --recent weeks, even though he's a bit-- kind of bit tight-lipped about it. But it will be different to watch.

AMIT MANN: It'll be different.

KATIE HEINDL: Mm-hmm.

AMIT MANN: It'll be different, yes. I mean, you could look at it like this if you are one to believe that their starting lineup is going to stay the exact same. And I think it will. I don't think Gary Trent Jr. is going to be moving to the bench, although I think there's some people who are clamoring for that, saying that, no, start Precious Achiuwa.

I'm not sure if that's really going to work out for a variety of reasons, but in the end, you could say their top nine starters-- Precious, Thad Young, Chris Boucher, Otto Porter Jr. That's a very good top nine.

You think of Otto Porter Jr. You can really slot him anywhere. He's going to be, you know, one of-- probably one of your best catch-and-shoot players.

KATIE HEINDL: Mm-hmm.

AMIT MANN: He can play the two, three, four. He played the five for the Golden State Warriors in the Finals. So he's clearly capable of playing many different positions. And they didn't even have a backup for OG Anunoby last season. And that really hurt them because any time that OG or Gary missed time, the Raptors really struggled.

KATIE HEINDL: Mm-hmm.

AMIT MANN: And they were all really, really bad 3-point shooting team. And then it went off the cliff. It was awful. But you can slot him in. And how healthy he's going to be, I guess it will be a question. Like, he did a lot of rest days with the Golden State Warriors last year. Think he played around 60 games or so, but he was very productive in those 20-ish minutes that he played.

Then he got Thad Daddy. He's going to do what he does, right? He is just-- he's exactly--

KATIE HEINDL: Is that what we're calling him?

AMIT MANN: I'm calling him Thad Daddy, right? Because he--

KATIE HEINDL: Why don't we call him Thaddy?

AMIT MANN: Uncle Thad, right? Something like--

KATIE HEINDL: Just Thaddy.

AMIT MANN: Thaddy works too.

KATIE HEINDL: Sure. Thaddy.

AMIT MANN: Thaddy works too. We know what he offers, and--

KATIE HEINDL: Yes.

AMIT MANN: --I think he's going to keep on doing that. And Chris Boucher, if he's able to be consistent on both ends-- he has that presence, that allure of just being this, like, rangy, slim Ducky kind of dude on both ends, offensive rebounding. Maybe his 3-point shot gets a little bit more consistent, similar to that Tampa season, although people say that's fake. I think he is a decent 3-point shooter. Get us out of little trial and errors last season, but he did make shots towards the end of the year. And--

KATIE HEINDL: Mm-hmm.

AMIT MANN: --he had that awesome game against the 76ers. He had a couple of good games that actually get to 76ers in that playoff series.

So all those players, I think they're going to be in really good shape, and that's good. If you can walk into the playoffs saying, we got a really good top nine, considering what the Raptors did in their championship year where it was a top seven, then it became a top six, and then it was like just a top five, and then-- similar to that Celtics series, right? It was five guys, and that's pretty much it. You feel like they got nine players that they really feel good about.