Raptors Head to Tampa With Some New Faces

The Toronto Raptors head to Tampa today with a new cast of characters including Alex Len, DeAndre' Bembry, Henry Ellenson, Yuta Watanabe, and Alize Johnson
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It's been a busy offseason for the Toronto Raptors who have turned over almost a third of their rotation from last season. Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson departed and were replaced by Aron Baynes, Alex Len, and DeAndre' Bembry.

Heading into next season the Raptors rotation looks pretty clear:

Toronto Raptors Rotation

NOTE: Terence Davis II was not included on this chat due to his ongoing legal issues




















Along with a few others on partially or non-guaranteed deals including: Oshae Brissett, Jalen Harris, Yuta Watanabe, Alize Johnson, Henry Ellenson, and Paul Watson Jr. 

Let's run through some of these lesser-known new players.

1. Alex Len

Len is a 7-foot centre from Ukraine who was selected fifth overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns. He was signed to a one-year, $2.3 million deal to help shore up the Raptors' frontcourt issues after Gasol and Ibaka departed this offseason.

The 27-year-old has never quite lived up to his draft price, averaging just eight points and 6.3 rebounds per game for his career. But Toronto won't ask much of him at this point in his career and he should be able to produce some reliable rebounding and inside scoring with the Raptors' second unit.

2. DeAndre' Bembry

The 26-year-old Bembry fits perfectly in the Raptors' developmental program. He's a 6-foRot-5, 210-pound wing who is a stout and versatile defender with minimal offensive firepower.

Since entering the league as the 21st pick in the 2016 draft, Bembry has averaged 6.2 points on 45% shooting and 27% 3-point shooting. FiveThirtyEight's RAPTOR metric gave him a -4.2 rating offensively, but a +2.5 defensive rating last season.

Considering the Raptors' complex defensive scheme and Nick Nurse's love for defence-first, switchable players, Bembry will likely get some minutes toward the back end of the rotation. 

3. Henry Ellenson

The 6-foot-10, 240-pound Ellenson should be a bit of a familiar name for Raptors die-hards. He played in 17 games with the Raptors 905 last season, averaging an impressive 21.8 points and 9.2 rebounds.

He's entering his age-24 season as an interesting project for the organization. He's shown an ability to stretch the floor, shooting 38% on 6.3 3-point attempts per game in the G-League last year, but he has never quite lived up to his impressive Marquette days that had him selected 18th overall in the 2016 draft.

The Raptors have liked having floor-spacing bigs in the past and Ellenson certainly offers that, but it'll ultimately come down to the rest of his game to determine if he's good enough to stick with an NBA team this season.

4. Yuta Watanabe

Watanabe — whose nickname on Basketball-Reference is "The Chosen One" — is a 6-foot-8 wing from Japan. He's played in 33 NBA games over the past two seasons while spending much of his time with Memphis' G-League team where he's averaged 15.4 points in 55 games.

He signed a non-guaranteed Exhibit 10 deal with the Raptors and will have a chance to compete for a roster spot during the team's training camp.

5. Alize Johnson

Johnson is another 6-foot-7 wing singed by the Raptors to an Exhibit 10 deal. He's coming off two impressive seasons in the G-League in which he averaged 19.5 points and 13.4 rebounds with the Indiana Pacers' affiliate.

He's only played in 31 NBA games, but his G-League statistics are certainly intriguing enough to warrant a look for the next level.