The Toronto Raptors have been extremely fortunate these past couple months. After a big trade that saw seven players involved, the Raptors got four players who are showing that they are a primary reason for the Raptors recent success.
Rudy Gay is an extremely talented player, but the four new Raptors are much better at being a part of a team. While Gay took it upon himself to carry teams, through good and bad, these players are the kind that will do the small things that produce quality team wins.
Greivis Vasquez was the most notable addition, who as a New Orleans Pelican (Hornet) put up some solid numbers on a pretty bad team. After being traded as part of the Tyreke Evans to NO deal, he went to a Sacramento Kings team that was talented, but seemingly incapable of playing together. Not exactly an ideal fit for a pass first point guard.
Patrick Patterson has been one of the better story-lines post trade. Stuck in a shooting funk while a King, he has seen his shooting form return in a big way as a Raptor. Most recently he helped the team to an improbable victory against the Brooklyn Nets. His ability to stretch the floor from the power forward position has been integral in opening up space for everyone.
John Salmons has given a much needed veteran boost to the swing man corp, and his timely defense, assists, and rebounding have really paid dividends thus far. His talents as a one-on-one scorer are pretty solid, and he is always making good passes.
Chuck Hayes is a very solid big man, and I mean solid. He might not be the highest jumper or the best athlete, but he knows how to bully people with his strength. As the Toronto Raptors are very much likely to make the playoffs, his value will only increase in the intensified environment that is post season basketball.
Taken individually, they might not blow you away or impress. When taken as a whole though, you can see just how much of an effect they have had upon this young team.
In the victory over the Nets, the former Kings players were the only four to come off the bench. Patterson came up huge in the end of that game, stealing the ball from Deron Williams with seconds left, only to follow that up with the game winning jumper.
All of them were key in the win, with Salmons making a lay-up late after beating Paul Pierce off the dribble, and Vasquez going coast-to-coast for another quick lay-up, both plays coming with less than a minute on the clock.
The very fact that they are in there late in games shows their value, and coach Dwane Casey knows what he is going to get from them.
The injury to DeMar Derozan opens up more opportunity, and depending on how long he is out for, it could get even better for the Kings quartet.
One thing is certain though: The Toronto Raptors are a better team with them.