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Toronto Raptors

NBA Trade Deadline: How major trades impact the Toronto Raptors

#Raps

The trades flew in fast and furious ahead of Thursday's NBA trade deadline.

Here's how the biggest ones impacted the Toronto Raptors.

Raptors trade for Marc Gasol

While there's no doubt that Gasol has lost a step, he's still a high impact player that can step in to help the Raptors immediately.

In the previous platoon rotation of Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas, you got the impression that Toronto played two different styles based on who filled in at centre. Whereas Ibaka has floor spacing ability, Valanciunas mostly marauded the paint as a banger to help control the glass and combat the likes of Joel Embiid.

With Gasol, there's no need to choose one or the other as he can do both.

In addition to shooting in the mid-30s from downtown each of the last three seasons, Gasol is an incredibly skilled passer that can pick apart defences from either elbow. Since the NBA began tracking elbow touches in 2013-14, Gasol has led the NBA in that statisic every season.

He's also among the best passing bigs in the league which when combined with the fact that Toronto ranks 28th in the league in assists from the elbows, means that Toronto may have just added a significant wrinkle to what they can do offensively.

MORE: How Gasol fits in with the Raptors

The biggest question might be whether the Raptors opt to start Gasol or Ibaka, who has started 42 of Toronto's 51 games this season.

Looking at how the Raptors' other starters performed with Ibaka compared to Valanciunas provides some insight as to why rolling with Gasol might be the better option. While the five-man lineup of Ibaka, Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Danny Green and Pascal Siakam has outscored opponents by 6.5 points per 100 possessions, subbing in Valanciunas for Ibaka with that four results in a lineup with a net rating of +21.4.

If you view Gasol as simply a more complete version of Valanciunas, you can make the case that he should be Toronto's starter with Ibaka sliding back into a reserve role.

Regardless, Toronto now has two centres that can stretch a defence and pull opposing big men away from the paint without sacrificing rim protection.

Bucks trade for Nikola Mirotic

The Milwaukee Bucks lead the Toronto Raptors by two games atop the Eastern Conference standings and have already clinched the head-to-head tiebreaker. Should the Raptors reach the Conference Finals, there's a good chance they'd see a Bucks team that's given them fits.

Unfortunately for Raptors fans, they got even better on Thursday with the addition of Mirotic.

Already the NBA's most prolific catch-and-shoot team, this is a classic case of the rich getting richer as Mirotic is one of the league's truly elite floor spacing forwards - the only three players to average more made catch-and-shoot 3s this season are Stephen Curry, Buddy Hield and Lauri Markkanen.

Additionally, Mirotic is far more than a specialist who sits in the corner as he's just as comfortable putting the ball on the floor and attacking closeouts.

When it comes to the impact on Toronto, Mirotic's versatility could shift how the Raptors scheme for Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. Assuming he slots into a sixth man role, Mirotic figures to take some of the minutes previously going to Ersan Ilyasova. Though Ilyasova can certainly shoot, he's not Mirotic who hoists twice as many 3s per 36 minutes as Ilyasova and ranks among the top 10 in the entire league.

He's also a much bigger threat to get out in transition which fits well alongside Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe, both of whome love to push pace.

It's much harder to slot a true big onto Mirotic, which becomes a bigger issue if the Bucks opt to play the Greek Freak at the five.

Would that force the Raptors to play longer stretches without a true centre thus reducing the impact of the newly acquired Gasol? Unless Toronto flips the script on the other end of the floor, it may have to significantly alter the rotation in order to matchup one through five.

With one trade, Milwaukee all of the sudden looks like a bigger threat to dictate Nick Nurse's playoff rotation.

76ers trade for Tobias Harris

Harris goes from a first option with the LA Clippers to a vastly overqualified fourth option on the 76ers.

What's more, the upgrade from Wilson Chandler could create matchup problems for the Raptors.

MORE: What Tobias Harris brings to the 76ers

When the Raptors and 76ers last played, Siakam spent most of the game guarding Jimmy Butler with Kawhi Leonard matched up predominantly against Ben Simmons. Given Harris' size (6'9", 240), one figures that Siakam is likely to now slide over to Harris.

That leaves Danny Green and Kyle Lowry to check the duo of Butler and JJ Redick.

There's no great option for Toronto.

While Green is an ace defender capable of staying attached to Butler, having Lowry chase Redick around screens for 40 minutes is far from ideal, especially when considering Lowry turns 33 in March and carries such a heavy load offensively.

The other option in that scenario would be to put Lowry on Butler, against whom he'd give up seven inches. As it pertains specifically to Harris, it's a trade that makes Philly's starting five much harder to guard.

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