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Raptors On Verge With Tyler Hanbrough

Masai UjiriWhen we looking over what NBA free agents are left that fit with Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey’s style and personality over the past few days, it was impossible not to notice that the Pacers Tyler Hansbrough had become an unrestricted free agent.

Hansbrough had an outstanding defensive rating on an outstanding defensive team. If anything makes sense from what we have been hearing out of Casey, Hansbrough should be the first free agent the Raptors sign on July 10.

Now in the final moments of the July moratorium, ESPN Marc Stein confirmed on Twitter that Toronto was indeed trying to make the obvious move.



The player who had earned the nickname “Physco T” in college will be turning 28 years old at the start of the season and after four years in the NBA, the last two stuck behind former All-Star David West, he wants and deserves a bigger role. When he did get on the court, he was as aggressive and active as ever and Raptors fans may remember Hanbrough “accidentally” tossing rookie Jonas Valanciunas to the ground behind the basket.

With West shouldering a bigger load for the Pacers last year, Hansbrough saw his minutes drop to 16.9 per game, even though he was having the best defensive season of his career. His 2012-2013 averages of 7 points and 4.6 rebounds are not indicative of what to expect from him in the future. On a per 36 minute basis, Hansbrough was averaging 15 points, 9.8 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 0.5 blocks and this is in line with his career per 36 minute numbers.

Hansbrough is an energy player that doesn’t need a lot of plays run for him. His activity creates second shot opportunities for his teammates and himself, but it is his physical defensive style that has Casey’s attention. Casey’s vision is of a Pacers North in Toronto and there could be no better addition to his roster than Hansbrough to help take the Raptors in that direction.

The Pacers play the tough-minded, in your face, “smash-mouth” basketball style that Casey believes in. The Raptors just haven’t had the pieces to emulate it.

“I look at Indiana as the example we should go by, can go by or are a lot like and go by,” Casey said. “I look at them as one of the top three defensive teams in the league, very efficient offensively and play the style that I think wins in the playoffs.”

Negotiating a deal is not the same as getting one done, but the Raptors have been very quiet in free agency thus far and Hansbrough’s name has not exactly been at the forefront of the rumor mill. These two parties were made for each other.

Stephen Brotherston has covered the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre since 2009. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.