The Toronto Raptors had the second-best record in the Eastern Conference prior to the 2019-20 season getting suspended in March. The defending NBA champions will be among the 22 teams playing at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida when the campaign resumes.
For this piece, we’ll be taking a look at the three Toronto players who benefited the most from the NBA hiatus. Sure, players from all 22 teams are going to be rusty when the season starts back up again, but the rest guys received will surely pay dividends moving forward.
The new franchise player for the Raptors, Pascal Siakam’s minutes’ load is going to be massive in the 2020 postseason now that Kawhi Leonard is gone and Kyle Lowry is getting older. The All-Star is only 26, so he’ll have fresh legs regardless.
However, extra rest for Siakam could pay dividends in the postseason. The swingman was averaging 23.6 points, 7.5 boards and 3.6 assists prior to Rudy Gobert’s positive COVID-19 test. Siakam was playing around 35 minutes a night.
As we mentioned, Kyle Lowry already has a lot of miles on his body and he’s not getting any younger. This long hiatus not only allowed the All-Star point guard to spend more time with his wife and kids, but it also provided Lowry with the opportunity to rest his legs and sharpen his mind for the 2020 postseason.
Before games were suspended, Lowry was averaging 19.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists for the Raptors in 52 games. Even though Siakam is the best player in Toronto, a case can be made that Lowry is the most important piece since he’s the floor general on the court and leader in the locker room.
Marc Gasol missed 28 games for the Raptors due to hamstring issues, but he had returned just prior to the league’s hiatus. He used the extra time off to get into shape, with a recent picture of him looking slimmed down. Nurse told Raptors reporters Gasol’s face has “looked slim” on Zoom calls.
Marc is very important for the Raptors on both sides of the floor. The former Defensive Player of the Year should be ready to go full throttle once games are resumed in Orlando.
Gasol was averaging 7.6 points and 6.3 rebounds in 36 games for the Raptors before games were suspended.