Toronto Raptors fans spent a large chunk of the 2020-21 season slinging arrows at Australian center Aron Baynes, as the man they signed to replace Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka failed to provide either Gasol’s ability to keep the ball flowing in the post and Ibaka’s two-way stardom. His breakout year in Phoenix appears to have fooled plenty.
Even after averaging just 6.1 points and 5.2 rebounds, Baynes was one of six NBA players, alongside names Patty Mills and Joe Ingles, that were named to an Australian Olympic team that has their eyes set on a podium finish in Tokyo.
The Boomers picked up tons of momentum Monday night, as they stunned the favorites to win gold in Team USA. While Baynes played just four minutes due to a knee injury, a slightly comical response from Ingles means that the Aussies may not be fearing any sort of debilitating injury
If Baynes, who claimed that he was misused and never got into a groove with Toronto last year, is able to make a name for himself in the Olympics, is there a chance that the Raptors could be convinced to give him one last chance to stick as a member of the rotation?
Can Aron Baynes impress the Toronto Raptors with Australia?
Baynes will have some meaty challenges to sink his teeth into in his group, as Australia was thrown into perhaps the deepest group in the competition. While Germany’s strength lies in their backcourt, Baynes could prove that he is back to his old self against well-traveled big man Moritz Wagner.
Players like Nicolo Melli and Nico Mannion will make Italy a tough opponent, but one matchup that really needs to be examined is Baynes in the frontcourt against power forward Danilo Gallinari. While Australia is a squad based around pace and space, Baynes could be the change of pace they need to keep winning.
Nigeria also took down Team USA, proving that a team led by players like Josh Okogie, Precious Achiuwa, and Gabe Vincent is capable of doing some giant slaying. If Baynes ends up playing well against this collection of talent, that would be his most impressive performance in Tokyo.
Australia has already taken down America, meaning that every one of their games should be competitive. If Baynes plays like the rock-solid rebounder and defender he was during his days with Phoenix and Boston for his country, the Raptors might decide that there is a chance that momentum percolates over to his club team.