The good news keeps coming for the Toronto Raptors after it was announced this afternoon that Jared Sullinger and Delon Wright have been cleared for team practice. For those keeping track, Wright hasn’t played basketball since Summer League in July; Sullinger got into exactly one game in the pre-season before injuring his foot, which required surgery. Both players have been cleared by doctors to resume basketball activities. Yeehaw.
The reasons why this is good news are obvious. Let’s start with Wright, since it feels like he fell off the face of the Earth a little bit back there. Delon is still very much the third point guard in the Raptors — behind Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph — but he projects as a solid rotation piece for Toronto in the future. (Does he make Joseph expendable? Time will tell.) The poor guy got his shoulder torn back in July in the final Las Vegas Summer League game, one in which the Raptors got boned on a late foul call. It was an ugly scene.
Wright will presumably check in with the Raptors 905 at some point soon to get some playing time in, and while it remains to be seen what his role will be for the remaining of the season with the big club, it’s good to have him back. (An interesting aside to consider: it will be interesting to see what the Raptors do now with Fred VanVleet. He’s got a roster spot, and management likes him, but having four point guards on the roster seems like a bit much. Especially when the needs in the front court are a bit more pronounced.)
Now the big man, Sully. Oh boy has Toronto missed Sullinger. From the moment it was announced that Sully would miss a good chunk of the season with a surgically repaired foot, the Raptors have scrambled to fill in their frontcourt rotation. Before the season began, it was easy to predict some combination of Jonas Valanciunas and Jared Sullinger wreaking havoc on the boards, or Sully and Patrick Patterson combining to provide an inside-out presence. Instead, everyone has had to be patient. In Sullinger’s stead, the Raptors have tried starting Pascal Siakam, Lucas Nogueira, and, just lately, Patterson (who of course is now dealing with his own strained knee.)
Sullinger won’t solve all of the Raptors’ defense and rebounding issues on his own, but having another capable hand as the team prepares for the second half of the season is comforting. Much like last year, when the Raptors stood pat at the trade deadline and welcomed (eventually) DeMarre Carroll back into the fold, this year’s Raps can look forward to “adding” another player they’ve actually had all along.