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Maybe Fred VanVleet contextualized the Thad Young trade the best: “It’s a great piece, great addition, especially when the other guy was sitting at home. It wasn’t like we were giving up much. ... It’s a plus-one in my book."

In a vacuum, he's right. The Toronto Raptors gave up Goran Dragic who left the team for personal reasons in November and a lottery-protected first-round pick for Young and a second-round pick that'll likely be the first or second in the round. But Saturday night's game showed why Young was brought to Toronto and it wasn't for his basketball skills.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse has a simple philosophy when it comes to his bench rotation: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. It's why nothing changed Saturday against the Denver Nuggets. Chris Boucher, Precious Achiuwa, Khem Birch, and Dalano Banton all came off the bench one after another while Toronto's starters — Pascal Siakam in particular — continued to log heavy minutes. Young, though, remained sidelined.

It's a role Young has, for better or for worse, grown accustomed to lately. He's played in just three games since the start of the new year and four games going back to mid-December. Over that time, he's been trying to stay in shape on his own, running suicides, staying late after shootaround to get in extra work, and doing drill work with San Antonio's assistant coaches and video staff.

"It’s been pretty crazy for me being in San Antonio and not being in the rotation. I had to create my own little plan which is continuous workouts," Young said in his introductory press conference Saturday. "Obviously doing all that still doesn’t help you with basketball shape, but it keeps you kind of in rhythm a little bit."

Coming to Toronto, Young said he was ecstatic. He was thrilled to be joining a playoff-caliber team that fits his identity as a defense-first, tough, and versatile player. But even though both he and Nurse say the 33-year-old is physically ready to take the court, Young knows his biggest impact will come off the court.

"My first week I want to just kind of like, obviously play but I'm want to evaluate the guys and see how I can help lead and help be able to go to those guys and talk to them and not step on any toes," said Young, a 14-year NBA veteran who said he learned his leadership skills as he developed under then-Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins. "It gives me an opportunity to really evaluate to see how I can approach guys and not kind of make them mad or not step on the toes or not come off as a know-it-all or stuff like that. I want to be a great teammate. And I think I've done that over the course of my career."

That'll be Young's biggest impact on this team over the final two months of the season. He'll be a mentor to the younger players on the team, including OG Anunoby who Young has known since Anunoby was in high school, playing AAU for Team Thad. 

“This is the part that makes me feel old," Young joked. "I think we got OG when he was 16 years old and the first time I saw him I was like ‘This kid is going to be a pro.’ Just because of his physical attributes and the things he can do."

Having that voice around is going to be helpful, VanVleet said. It'll take some time to get Young up to speed on what the Raptors like to do and how the leadership works in Toronto, but both VanVleet and Siakam are optimistic his impact will be felt even if it isn't on the court.

Further Reading

4 takeaways from Toronto's 110-109 loss to the Nuggets

Report: Spurs expected to buy out Goran Dragic, multiple contender interested

10 takeaways from Masai Ujiri's post-trade deadline press conference