Eric Smith’s Raptors mailbag: Is Sullinger the answer at power forward?

Tim and Sid debate if this current Raptors squad has any chance of seriously contending considering the team's defensive liabilities.

Each week this season, Sportsnet insider and voice of the Raptors on SN590 The FAN, Eric Smith, will answer your questions about everything happening in Raptorland and around the Association. Send your questions to @Eric_Smith on Twitter using the hashtag #askE.

There is no denying that Paul Millsap has a lot of what the Raptors could use. However, whether he is still actually available or not, I don’t think the Raptors can make a true evaluation of their team until they see what Jared Sullinger can or cannot provide.

Thus, to answer your question, I don’t know. But I’m not certain Masai Ujiri does either. Until he sees Sullinger in action it would be hard to evaluate if some other PF would help move the needle more. Sully may be the guy.

Problem is… if Sullinger doesn’t return until the end of January (I’m speculating) you have only about two weeks to make your assessment of him and your team because the NBA’s trade deadline will be looming in mid-February.

The Raptors were high enough on him to go sign him as a free agent last summer so I’m assuming they’re prepared to roll with him.

That’s hard to say because you don’t know what/who is truly available and what/who opposing teams would be asking for in exchange.

But you wrote in a follow-up tweet to this one that you basically meant a “bang-for-your-buck” kind of deal. So to follow on that note…

A bang-for-your-buck deal may simply involve adding a veteran piece for one of your less-experienced players or a draft pick. However, if you dealt a pick for a player, you’d likely have to make a corresponding roster decision — as Toronto already has 15 guys on its roster.

If Sullinger is healthy you still may look to have that vet up front — someone that can play the four or the five — to spell off either Jonas Valanciunas and Lucas Nogueira or Patrick Patterson and Sullinger (with youngsters Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl waiting in the wings; watching and learning).

I’m all but certain we answered this in a previous mailbag. So I’ll keep the answer short: yes.

In fact, I think he makes the Hall of Fame. Unlike some people, I think his NBA career alone puts him in. But we also need to factor in that the Basketball Hall of Fame is about more than just the NBA. Carter had a huge impact on an entire country, growing the game and inspiring a generation of young players, too (many of them who are now playing professionally in North America and around the world).

This is extremely hard. And so subjective. But my five:

PG: Magic Johnson
SG: Michael Jordan
SF: LeBron James
PF: Tim Duncan
C: Bill Russell

Note: Magic and M.J. were no-brainers. Thus, I couldn’t get Kobe Bryant in there. LeBron is a lock. And the centre spot was a pick’em with Wilt Chamberlain, and Kareem in the mix for me, too.

The toughest call was the power forward spot. But because I’d get enough scoring from Jordan, James and Johnson (not that Duncan can’t score, too), I opted to get some rebounding and blocking from Tim Duncan—making my sixth man Larry Bird as a result.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.