The Toronto Raptors free agency plan for the 2021 offseason has to revolve around getting enough depth to fix their disappointing defense from last year. While the Raptors will always be an offensive-minded club under Nick Nurse, stars were able to carve through this defense like a hot knife through butter.
Toronto ranked 15th in defense over the course of the season, but this unit was even worse at the beginning of the season, when a calamitous start ruined whatever chances this team had at a successful season in addition to all of the Tampa-induced weirdness that made this season so difficult.
Luckily, the Raptors could go into the offseason with enough cap space to make something happen on the free-agent market, and there are more than enough quality players out there who could hook up with Toronto on a shorter deal and try to get this squad back to the postseason.
These three veterans would be ideal additions for the Raptors, as they supplement their defensive wizardry with enough of an offensive game to earn a key role in Nurse’s rotation for the 2021-22 campaign.
These 3 free agents could improve the Toronto Raptors on defense
3. SF Nicolas Batum, Los Angeles Clippers
For a period of time, Batum’s name was synonymous with albatross contracts, as he parlayed an impressive stint in Portland into a bloated mess of a deal with the Charlotte Hornets. After averaging 3.6 points per game in the final year of a five-year. $120 million ordeal, Batum found himself again as a role player in Los Angeles.
Not only did Batum score 8.1 points per game and make 40% of his 3-pointers, but the Clippers allowed 3.4 points fewer per 100 possessions when he was on the floor, per Cleaning the Glass (subscription required). If LA decides to retool, the Frenchman could head up to Canada.
Nicolas Batum’s versatility would greatly benefit the Toronto Raptors.
Batum is comfortable on the perimeter despite a 6-8, 230-pound frame, but that body could help him eat up minutes at power forward in a smaller lineup in Toronto. Irrespective of his designation, Batum has proven his quality for the Clippers this season despite having turned 32 before the season.
Even though his offensive game is waning a bit, the Raptors don’t need to bring him in to score as he did with the Trail Blazers. Supplementing the lineup by playing tough defense and switching onto any scorer starting to get hot should be enough of a defined role to warrant Toronto aggressively chasing the UFA this offseason.