That is a part of a collection of participant opinions from the 2020-21 season. To seek out the rest of the collection, please click on right here.
I don’t perceive why Paul Watson Jr. isn’t nonetheless a Toronto Raptors. No, let me rephrase: I don’t like that Paul Watson Jr. isn’t nonetheless a Toronto Raptor.
Watson Jr. did every thing the Raptors requested of him, however it didn’t matter. Toronto has a particular philosophy on the subject of the top of the roster. They churn it, whipping and frothing within the hope that future rotation gamers will distinguish themselves and rise to the highest. It means diamonds within the tough like Chris Boucher gained G-League MVPs and NBA contracts whereas strong gamers like Jordan Loyd, Alize Johnson, or Oshae Brissett would possibly fall by the wayside. Lose the numerous good in quest of the few nice, or one thing like that.
There’s one thing to that philosophy, actually. The NBA has one thing like 500 roster spots, and the final 50 may in all probability be stuffed efficiently by 200 gamers (or extra) on the planet. It’s a broad scope of expertise that may fulfill particular roles throughout the ends of rosters. So Toronto has tried to make use of these scarce end-of-bench minutes by trying to find gamers who can do these particular roles and extra, gamers who can play precise rotation minutes and supply distinctive advantages.
However Watson Jr. appeared to satisfy expectations for both ‘good’ or ‘nice,’ when it got here to the end-of-the-bench finds. He at all times shot nicely when given time, which is extraordinarily troublesome for gamers who don’t know the place or when minutes will come. And he has given memorable moments. Watson Jr. scored a profession excessive of 30 factors final yr in Tampa Bay in his first-ever begin, giving Toronto one of many few moments upon which any pleasure within the season was primarily based. But it surely wasn’t only a single second that confirmed Watson Jr. belonged. He shot 46.6 % from deep over two seasons with the Raptors. His protection was spectacular at occasions and principally strong all through his tenure. In a league that appears to prioritize 3-and-D gamers for closing roster spots, Watson Jr. appeared to satisfy that mandate as nicely or higher than many of the fifteenth males all through the league. And but he finds himself with out a present dwelling within the NBA.
The trajectory of Watson’s tenure with the Raptors was just like that of Malcolm Miller. Each thrived with the Raptors 905, if not taking part in like league MVPs. Each shot nicely given alternatives with the massive membership, although by no means seizing actual roles like Boucher or different G-League gamers who’ve made the leap. Each had been nice teammates. And Miller was not prolonged a qualifying supply throughout the 2019-20 offseason, which made him a casualty of fee, very similar to Watson throughout this offseason. Each had been good. However the Raptors have been in quest of nice with these closing few roster spots.
Toronto’s philosophy on the subject of the top of the roster make sense. Discovering rotation gamers is extraordinarily troublesome, and Toronto has such a strong basis that talent appears to be the one concern. So long as Toronto has locker-room leaders on the prime of the rotation — take exhibit A, one Fred VanVleet — then prioritizing the locker room on the backside of the roster turns into much less vital. The Raptors know what Watson Jr. can supply. The concept is that new draft picks like David Johnson would possibly have the ability to supply extra over the long run. Certainty on the finish of the roster is a adverse, so to talk.
When Khem Birch got here to Toronto, he applauded the surroundings that allowed him to increase his recreation in methods he was by no means in a position to try in Orlando. That’s admirable, however Birch was a starter with out anybody respiratory down his neck for enjoying time. Toronto doesn’t supply the identical freedom to everybody throughout the roster. (To be truthful, no NBA franchise does.) Watson’s two years in Toronto will go down as finally profitable, although with out sufficient variety in skillset to remain on the town over the long run. Who is aware of what he may have executed with extra freedom.
And so Watson, like many earlier than him, will discover himself with out a job in Toronto transferring ahead. It is sensible, given Toronto’s philosophy. But it surely have to be irritating for Watson himself. He did every thing requested of him throughout his two years with the Raptors. And doing so, with out doing extra, leaves him with out a job going ahead. It’s very potential that the Raptors will discover a future rotation participant within the mixture of Yuta Watanabe, Dalano Banton, Ish Wainright, and the like. The group determined that Watson couldn’t supply that, which is in fact their prerogative. It doesn’t make the enterprise on the finish of the roster any much less painful for individuals who fall by the wayside.
Tip Louis Zatzman
2020-21 Participant Assessment: Paul Watson Jr. originated on Raptors Republic.