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Player Review: Injuries and bad luck factor into Rodney Hood’s down year

Rodney Hood, who posted career lows across the board, has struggled to revive his career with the Raptors in a year many wish to forget.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Toronto Raptors Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2014 NBA Draft, Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors made the ultimate swing for the fences pick. selecting Bruno Caboclo, famously described by ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla as being “two years away from being two years away”, with the 20th overall pick. Just three picks later, the Utah Jazz selected a 22-year-old from Duke named Rodney Hood.

Now, it’s hard to fault Ujiri for selecting Caboclo. He had missed out on a similarly built Giannis Antetokounmpo just a year prior. Yet, his selection was integral to the development of the Raptors 905, where future Raptors Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet made a name for themselves. But just two years later, it was the Raptor faithful who were wishing Toronto had Hood on the roster instead.

In a somewhat humorous turn, Raptors fans got their wish — albeit four years later. On deadline day, Hood was brought to Toronto (well, Tampa) alongside Gary Trent Jr. in a trade that sent Norman Powell to the Portland Trailblazers. Hood’s time in Utah and Portland showed he could be an explosive 3-level scorer when healthy, however, an Achilles injury he suffered in December of the 2019-20 season had no doubt slowed him down.

For the 2020-21 season, Hood set a high mark of 21 points against the Spurs in January. He followed it up a couple of weeks later with 15 and 16 points in back-to-back wins against Washington and Philadelphia. From there, unfortunately, Hood struggled to make any real impact for the Blazers until he was sent to Toronto at the end of March.

What Toronto Got

In just his second game as a Raptor against his former team the Trailblazers, Hood posted 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting — including two threes — in a 5-pt loss. In all, Hood’s efforts showed what he still had in the tank and how he could help Toronto, a team desperate for more types of scoring from anywhere on the court.

That turned out to be Hood’s best game for Toronto. He never hit double-digit scoring for the rest of the season.

Unfortunately for Hood, he was just unable to catch a rhythm. His longest stint of consecutive games played was six. He dealt with various injuries in his short time with the Raptors. First, it was a strained right hip that knocked him out for four games and had him on a minute restriction when he returned. Then it was a case of right knee tendinitis that took him out for two games. In his next three games, he failed to score a point, playing less than 12 minutes in each.

Hood did have a solid performance in Toronto’s last win of the season against the Lakers, scoring seven points in 11 minutes. But then on May 8, he broke his left hand against the Grizzlies, knocking him out for the rest of the season.

What to Expect

Hood has come a long way from that young explosive scoring guard Raptors fans were enamoured with way back in 2014. Starting out as a lefty scorer who could hurt opposing defenses in many ways, Hood’s injuries have slowly taken their toll. Before his Achilles injury, Hood was having his most efficient season to date, shooting 50 percent from the field and 49 percent from three. We all remember him for saving Portland in a quadruple overtime playoff thriller against the Denver Nuggets. He ended up finishing that season much like he started, recovering from injuries and looking to build a rhythm. He played in 55 games, averaging 4.5 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 1 assist per game.

Hood’s contract situation makes it difficult for him to return as a Raptor next season. He is on a non-guaranteed contract for $10.8 million next season and it’s unlikely Toronto holds on to him past his June 23rd guarantee date. In another year, things might have gone differently for Hood. He came to a team in the middle of their worst season in years, only to deal with nagging injuries when he had an opportunity to play. Whether it is in Toronto or somewhere else, here’s hoping Hood can get healthy and play his game in the NBA.