RAPTORS BLOG: Would you prefer Grizzlies or Raptors roster long-term?

RAPTORS BLOG: Would you prefer Grizzlies or Raptors roster long-term?

Author of the article:

Ryan Wolstat

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam drives to the basket against Canadian Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks.
Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam drives to the basket against Canadian Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks. Photo by Kim Klement /USA Today Sports

Here’s a question for Raptors fans that arose when watching Memphis beat Toronto on Saturday night: Would you rather have the Grizzlies or Raptors roster moving forward? As talented as the Raptors group is and as much potential that remains, right now I think it’s an easy call. You go with the Ja Morant/Jaren Jackson Jr. and more group and it’s not that difficult a call. Only the concern that Morant and Jackson might be injury-prone based on what’s happened so far (and how hard and frantic Morant plays) might dissuade me a bit, but it’s not like OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet have been injury free.

Now, this could all change depending on how the draft lottery plays out. The Raptors have a shot at landing a similar caliber of talent as Morant or Jackson. If that happens (ie. a Top 4 pick heads to Toronto), I likely switch to the Toronto group, which would be led by the pick, Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. Morant has the potential to be special though and if Jackson can stay healthy he should make a lot of all-star teams. Plus the supporting cast is potentially around for a bit on reasonable deals. They also have a lightly-protected first round pick coming from Golden State in a few years. If Steph Curry, who will be 36 that season, isn’t close to his current self, that could be a nice pick.


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I don’t know if they can make the math work, but you know who would be a fantastic free agent fit in Memphis? Duncan Robinson. Reggie Bullock would work too. Somebody to open things up for the stars.

The Raptors used a team-record 34th different starting lineup against Memphis. Do they have one or two more variations in them? We say yes. Rookie Jalen Harris was the first player off the bench on Friday and again looked intriguing. He isn’t showing many jitters and can certainly create some offence for himself, which isn’t a team strength.

Can’t imagine Trent will play in each of the remaining games, so expect Harris to get a start at some point.

One more question: Should the Raptors have put Kawhi Leonard’s No. 2 out of the rotation, or is it find to give it to Harris? Four players were given the No. 4 Chris Bosh wore as a perennial all-star with the Raptors so clearly there’s no team rule here (unlike MLSE cousins the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have never let anyone were Doug Gilmour or Wendel Clark or Mats Sundin’s numbers without actually retiring them or putting them in a ring of honour). But will the Raptors let someone wear Kyle Lowry’s No. 7 once he’s gone? Will someone wear DeMar DeRozan’s No. 10? Might ask them about this at some point when the world is normal again and we are bored.

It’s been a wild season for the Raptors, but other teams have had bizarre years too and Brooklyn has also fielded a franchise record 34 different starting lineups. The difference is they are a title contender and will have to find a way to meld everything together, despite almost never having their full group together. The fact Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving already have quite a bit of chemistry together through time with the Oklahoma City Thunder and USA Basketball, in Irving’s case, should help, but we’ve never seen a champion just form in the playoffs without having a season to get in sync.


1 — Jonas Valanciunas (Wiped the floor with his old franchise).

2 — Dillon Brooks (Quietly, the Canadian has had an excellent two-way season).

3 — Jalen Harris (Finally healthy, late pick has shown some flashes).

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