Filling the Gaps: Mensah-Bonsu vs Delfino

With the Raptors still looking to solidify their final roster, Vicious D takes a look at two remaining Toronto free agents; Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Carlos Delfino...

In moves that rival Colangelo's Raptors makeover from a few years ago, the Toronto Raptors are quickly becoming the NBA team that has undergone the most changes.  As a result, they may be the most interesting team to watch gel in all of the NBA - no other team has really looked to adapt so much new talent at so many positions. 

Still, the Raptors have money not yet spent and a few roster spots to fill. 

Going by what Bryan Colangelo said at the Jarrett Jack presser, it seems that we can make several assertions:

1) Roko Ukic is not entirely happy with his situation and his agent is looking to facilitate a move.  This should not come as a surprise to Raptors fans as he also felt the same way playing in Europe as a third option.  As a result, every year he moved to a different European team, first to FC Barcelona and later to Virtus Roma. 

2) Carlos Delfino may very well be content to head back over to Russia to keep playing for Khimki Moscow.  No one knows what the Raptors have offered him, but the Euroleague and Moscow's weather do not seem to bother the Argentinian as much as previously indicated.

3) Pops Mensah-Bonsu may still be on the Raptors' radar screen as he remains unsigned.  His agent has kept a constant dialogue with the Raptors but it's unsure how far apart financially or how interested the Raptors may be.

When looking at Colangelo's statements, Carlos Delfino, and Pops Mensah-Bonsu each have unique skill sets that can help the Raptors.  However, Delfino may have more in common with Ukic as the addition of Jarrett Jack has  made some his skillset redundant.  Looking at a quick roster breakdown, the Raptors have obvious depth issues at certain positions

Point Guard
J. Calderon, J. Jack, Q. Douby, R. Ukic, M. Banks
Shooting Guard         
D. DeRozan, J. Jack, A. Wright, H. Turkoglu, Q. Douby
Small Forward
H. Turkoglu, D. George, A. Wright, A. Bargnani
Power Forward C. Bosh, R. Evans, A. Bargnani
Center A. Bargnani, P. O'Bryant


It's no secret that the Raptors have covetted Delfino's skillset.  Able to defend most players, make the occassional 3-pointer, and even play some point on the national team, the Raptors made heavy overtures to Delfino at the start of the summer.  However, we can already see from this very rough depth chart that Point Guard and Shooting Guard positions are no longer areas that the Raptors lack depth in.  Thanks to players that can play multiple positions, I'd argue that point guard and shooting guard seem to be the most solid positions for the Raptors.

Looking at Pops Mensah-Bonsu, we have a different story. 

As a player that the Raptors have advised to attempt to expand his game to the small forward position, Mensah-Bonsu will not be someone who will be able to defend as well as Delfino can on the floor.  In fact, if there is one area that Mensah-Bonsu may be a detriment to the team, it's on defense.  Nevertheless, as a player that brings energy to the team, can rebound in traffic, draw fouls, and attacks the basket with ruthless abandon, Pops Mensah-Bonsu's abilities include many that are still not in great abundance on this Raptors team.  Perhaps more importantly, if Pops is able to expand his game to cover the Small Forward position, it gives the Raptors depth at both the SF and PF positions; something that I feel is sorely lacking currently.

At the end of the day, Carlos Delfino was never going to be a guy that would be worth around $5 million and I've always questioned what Delfino believes his worth to be.  In turning down the Raptors' initial qualifying offer last year, it was obvious to most of us that the Raptors' and Delfino's opinions of his worth were miles apart.  A year later, the Raptors find themselves offering him less than Khimki Moscow due to the market.  There's just no way that I can see the Raptors justifying that Delfino is worth as much as Jarrett Jack, especially in this economic climate.

Instead, if you haven't guessed by now, I would much rather see the Raptors take their money and spend it on Pops Mensah-Bonsu. By starting to offer $3 million a year and going no more than the $4 million a year, By offering $2-3 million, the Raptors will address some of their athleticism and depth questions.  As a player who helped change the energy level on the floor at times, Mensah-Bonsu would give an almost Jerome Williamsesque presence to a team that last year suffered from lethargic play on many a night.   As a cheaper alternative, Mensah-Bonsu addresses depth issues that are prevalent on this roster without affecting their remaining exeptions, allowing the Raptors to still spend their money to further strengthen their front-court with free agents.

It's anyone's guess how the final spots on the roster play out, but between Pops and Count Chocula, my vote is on the former and hopefully BC eventually feels this way too.

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