The Toronto Raptors have signed forward Juancho Hernangomez to a one year contract. By the looks of it, he is probably signed to a non guaranteed deal and will have to fight for a roster spot on the Raptors, He has played five years in the NBA and played for Boston, Sacramento and Utah this past year. However, many people might know him more as Bo Cruz from the Adam Sandler movie Hustle. Yes, the Raptors are adding a movie star to their roster! He is 6 foot 9 and has a 7 foot wingspan, so he fits the type of player the Raptors are looking for. However, don’t the Raptors have enough 6 foot 9 players on their roster? Why bring him in?
Toronto Raptors Sign Juancho Hernangomez – Why? The need to strengthen the bench
If you remember the Raptors’ end of season pressers – in particular Nick Nurse and Front Office – the Raps really wanted to alleviate pressure on their starters and build up the bench. Last year, the starters logged heavy minutes because Nick Nurse didn’t trust his bench. As a result according to statmuse.com, that Raptors bench averaged the least number of points for a bench in the entire league – averaging only 25.7 points per game. They were also dead last in minutes played per game with an average of 71.9 minutes played all by bench players.
So the focus of this off season for the Raptors is to strengthen the bench so the starters won’t be worn out or break down before the playoffs. When you think about it, at the beginning of last year, you only had Precious Achiuwa that was giving any sort of bench production. Chris Boucher was coming off an injury and had a rough first half of the year. The latter part of the ’21-’22 season got better with Chris Boucher finding his groove and the Raptors trading for Thaddeus Young at the trade deadline. But Young needed time to get accustomed to the Raptors style of play, in particular on the defensive end. So the bench was weak last year.
However, this year you are looking at a potential bench of Precious Achiuwa, Chris Boucher, newly signed Otto Porter Jr and potentially Juancho Hernagomez if he can beat out the stiff competition for the remaining couple spots. If he does, he could be part of an intimidating bench line up that is experienced, long, versatile and has high basketball IQ. It would be quite formidable and any one of these players can be plugged into the starting line up if there are injuries. So what does Juancho Hernangomez provide the Raptors?
Toronto Raptors Sign Juancho Hernangomez – What does he Provide?
If you watch Hernangomez play or look at his highlights, he doesn’t jump right at you. However, he does a few things well. First, he is a good three point shooter. In particular he is a good spot up three point shooter that can hit from anywhere beyond the arc. He is a career 35.1% three point shooter but he has shown flashes of elite shooting. For example, when he played for Utah at the end of last season, he shot 43.8% from three. He can definitely stretch the floor. You can easily envision him and Otto Porter Jr. spacing the floor nicely for Toronto.
Second, he moves well without the ball. Juancho Hernangomez will look for the open space on the perimeter, dive and cut towards the basket to present himself for a pass, set picks, look for the right spot to grab a rebound and run the floor. His activity helps keep plays alive, and helps the offense from getting stagnant. He basically does a lot of little things to help a team win. This is something the Raptors definitely need.
Hernangomez is in a real dog fight to make the Raptors’ roster this year. Besides him there are four other players on non guaranteed contracts (Brooks, Wilson, Banton and Champagnie) vying for two spots on the team. Now things can obviously change, such as trades or waiving of players, but training camp will be extremely competitive this year and Hernangomez will be in the middle of it. However, if he shows the Raptors all that he can do, it will be very difficult to keep him off the roster. Jauncho Hernangomez’s signing has definitely spiced things up. I can’t wait for training camp! It’s going to be super competitive.
UPDATE AS OF AUGUST 1, 2022
Blake Murphy of Sportsnet as tweeted on his twitter account that Juancho Hernangomez’s contract is fully guaranteed at the veterans’ minimum. So this makes things even more interesting! It potentially means that DJ Wilson, Justin Champagnie and Delano Banton could be all vying for the last spot. It could also mean that Svi Mykhailiuk could be in trouble if he doesn’t perform well in training camp. It also might mean that the Raptors are anticipating some sort of trade where a few players might be going out and you need to fill spots. Who knows? But things have gotten a lot more interesting in Raptor land!
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