Just two days after playing their first game all year with its full complement of important rotation players, the Raptors are incomplete again. Per the team, bench wings Yuta Watanabe and Svi Mykhailiuk have been entered into the NBA’s healthy and safety protocols. Chris Boucher is now the only member of the active roster who has yet to have a brush with COVID this season.
There's now only one Raptors *regular* who has not entered protocols this season. Fred, Scottie, OG, Pascal, Gary, Khem, Precious, Dalano, Malachi, Yuta, Svi, Bonga, and Champagnie have all been in protocols this year. https://t.co/2omBugdXIA— (@AaronBenRose) January 4, 2022
Per the NBA’s updated protocols, any player who tests positive for the virus can return after no fewer than six days in isolation, provided they are asymptomatic and return a negative test.
The absences will leave the Raptors light on the wings in the second unit, and potentially open up some room for one of Malachi Flynn or Dalano Banton to get some run against the Spurs tonight and beyond. It’s not ideal to lose either guy, of course. While mostly underwhelming, Svi is valued by Nick Nurse, who over the weekend pointed to his Gary Trent Jr.-like play style and its importance within reserve units. Watanabe is one of the best defenders on the team, and though his offense has gone cold over the last week or so, he helps breath space — and vibes — into any lineup of which he’s a part.
All of that having been said, the wing is probably the spot where Toronto can withstand a couple absences at the most. Four of the five guys in their starting five are wings by trade, and Nick Nurse should be able to mix and match his starters and reserves without too much drop-off — especially if Boucher can continue his recent run of inspired play off the bench. Here’s hoping for a quick recovery for Watanabe and Mykhailiuk; the sooner they can return the better, obviously. But for a team that’s been missing key pieces all season long, this latest pair of absences feels almost tame.