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Team Canada Cory Joseph

Raptors Go All-Defense, Nab Spurs Cory Joseph

In a totally predicable scenario, once the Spurs landed LaMarcus Aldridge, the Raptors would be able to land their defensive-minded guard of choice, Canadian Cory Joseph. What’s been next for the Raptors this summer has been getting head coach Dwane Casey defense-oriented players that fit the style he likes to play.

The Spurs had little choice but to renounce their rights to Joseph in order to stay under the salary cap and claim this season’s top free agent prize and the Raptors wasted little time in opening up discussions to bring the local boy back home.

Joseph was third on the Spurs point guard depth chart, but his play defies his status. He will be a huge addition to the Raptors rotation off the bench.

Known as a defensive-oriented guard, the 23-year-old averaged 6.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 18.3 minutes in 79 regular season games in his best season with the Spurs last year. He shot an impressive 50.4 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three-point range, however, where he really impressed was in his 14 starts.

One of the Raptors biggest vulnerabilities became painfully obvious when starting point guard Kyle Lowry hurt his back. After looking strong all season, Toronto suddenly looked very, very ordinary. As a starter Joseph averaged 13.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 34.6 minutes last year. He shot 56.2 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from three-point range. It’s safe to say the Raptors need a backup guard who can start if needed next season.

The all-defense summer in Toronto started with trading guard Greivis Vasquez and drafting guard Delon Wright in the first round followed by guard Norman Powell in the second round. Then the Raptors stealthily targeted the Hawks free agent forward DeMarre Carroll, followed by the Hornets free agent center Bismack Biyombo and now the Spurs free agent guard Cory Joseph. Toronto has gone all-in to get back to being a top-10 defensive team in the NBA next season.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.