Toronto Raptors: Toronto Native Cory Joseph Comes Home


Toronto Raptors: Toronto Native Cory Joseph Comes Home

The news came as somewhat of a surprise, but Cory Joseph is now the second ever Toronto native to sign with his hometown Toronto Raptors.

Joseph inked a four-year, $30 million deal with the Raptors last night, just a few hours after fellow guard Lou Williams parted ways with the club in exchange for a three-year, $21 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.

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While the news is exciting in terms of nostalgia and hometown pride, the question begs: What exactly Joseph brings to the table for the Raptors?

For starters, he’s a true professional, coming from arguably the most successful franchise in grooming draft picks in the last 20 years, in the San Antonio Spurs.

Second, unlike Williams and Greivis Vasquez before him, he’s a true distributor on the offensive end, and incredibly aggressive on the defensive side, averaging 1.1 steals per game over 79 games last season for the Spurs.

Despite Joseph’s steady improvement over the first four years of his career, the Spurs were content with not resigning him, dropping their qualifying offer earlier yesterday.

Once that happened, it only took Raptors GM Masai Ujiri a few hours to lock up a deal with the promising young guard from Pickering.

But considering how quickly this deal was made, you can’t help but wonder if Joseph really had any other teams in mind once he found out the Spurs didn’t want him back.

If this signing pays off, it could pay huge dividends for both sides in more than just on court success.

Joseph now has an opportunity to do what only three Canadians have ever been able to do since Hank Biasatti and Gino Sovran did for the 1946 Toronto Huskies, and Jamaal Magloire in 2011 for the Toronto Raptors – play NBA basketball representing your home city and country.

Better yet, the numbers say he’s only going to get better, as each season he has increased his averages and totals in games started, field goal percentage, assists, rebounds, and points.

Despite the fact that Joseph might be an overall drop off in ability from either Vasquez or Williams, he compliments head coach Dwayne Casey’s philosophy of distribution and hard-nosed defence much more accurately than either of those two previous guards ever will. 

Apr 1, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Cory Joseph (5) drives to the basket as Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo (5) defends during the second half at Amway Center. San Antonio Spurs defeated the Orlando Magic 103-91. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Besides, when you already have four players on your roster that can fill the cup consistently in Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas, DeMar DeRozan, and Kyle Lowry, having a backup point guard that jacks up three’s and plays minimal defence, especially in the playoffs, is no way to win when it counts.

Both Williams and Vasquez did that with reckless abandon, and although it paid off big for Williams, it made him strictly a two option on the floor and handcuffed the rotation due to his lack of defensive awareness.

We don’t have to worry about Joseph not trying to find the open man, or taking ill-advised shots, it’s not in his DNA.

For the first four years of his career, Joseph has been under the tutelage of one of the best point guard-head coach tandems in the last 20 years in Gregg Popovich and Tony Parker, even showing an ability to step up in the beginning of the season as the starter, when Parker went down.

That stretch of play at the beginning of last season very well might have saved his NBA career, and now he has been rewarded with $30 million over four years, playing for his hometown team. Given the obstacles Joseph has had to overcome so far in his young NBA career bouncing between the Spurs bench and the D-league, don’t expect to see him taking it easy now that he’s gotten his payday.

In a final class act to the franchise that gave him a chance, Joseph saluted the Spurs coaching staff and the city of San Antonio last night via twitter.

What happens next will be interesting to say the least. Who knows, now that Joseph has figured out his contract situation, there might be a chance we see him suiting up in Toronto a lot sooner than October, maybe in the Pan Ams for Canada?

Next: Raptors Sign Bismack Biyombo

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