The Raptors still have an Aron Baynes problem

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As the NBA’s March 25 trade deadline approaches, reports about the Toronto Raptors and their interest in picking up another big man aren’t slowing down. Considering Raptors fans’ disappointment with Aron Baynes this season, this isn’t a surprise.

Baynes’ rebounding is almost identical to the numbers he put up during his breakout season with the Phoenix Suns, but his shooting percentage has dipped to just 42% despite the fact that most of his shot attempts come either right around the rim or on uncontested jump shots.

If the Raptors are indeed going to make some aggressive moves at the deadline, they will almost assuredly include getting a center that can serve as an upgrade over Baynes, as the cavernous drop-off in production at that position has been hard to watch.

Has Baynes really played as bad as the eye test suggests, or is the new guy just an easy target being unfairly maligned?

What do the numbers say about Toronto Raptors dud Aron Baynes?

Considering Baynes averaged 22.3 minutes and 11.5 points last year for Phoenix, Baynes’ numbers aren’t looking good. He isn’t stretching the floor either, shooting 26% from 3-point range this year.

The Raptors average just 94.7 points per 100 possessions on the offensive end with Baynes in the game, a mark that is still one of the worst in the league for a big man.

The Raptors are 6-6 when Baynes plays 15 minutes or less, with five of the losses coming against a team that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. The Raptors are 4-9 when Baynes plays 23 minutes or more.

Why does Baynes still get playing time with the Raptors?

Outside of Baynes, the Raptors have no other big man that can consistently match up with the bigger centers in the league. Baynes is 6’10 and 260 pounds, while the wiry Chris Boucher, whom head coach Nick Nurse has also started at center, is listed at 6’9 and 200 pounds.

The teams Baynes has played 23 or more minutes against, including the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Miami Heat, have bigger centers inside that could cause someone like Boucher problems. Baynes’ size and durability have been his best attributes for the Raptors, and they are one of the few valuable assets he has.

What has he done for us lately?

There’s no other way to put it, Baynes is not having a good season. However, he is trending in the right direction. Baynes came off the bench in six of the Raptors last 11 games, averaging 7.1 ppg in those games. But in his last four games off the bench, he averaged 8.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game before he was put back into the starting lineup.

There should be no reason Baynes can’t continue to play like that once Pascal Siakam, Fred Vanvleet, and OG Anunoby return to the lineup. Baynes will likely come off the bench and be asked to do a lot less. He might not get much playing time at all If the team acquires a big before the trade deadline.