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NBA Free agency: Former Celtics and Suns big man Aron Baynes signs with Toronto Raptors

NBA Free agency

The Toronto Raptors have snagged one of the best available big men on the market in Aron Baynes. After losing both of their starting centers from their 2018-19 season, the Raptors and Masai Ujiri have hit back.

Aron Baynes had a career year with the Suns last year. Baynes had developed an outside shot during his final season with the Celtics, but it wasn’t until he got to Arizona that he began firing them at a reliable clip.

Baynes played all 4 years of his college career with Washington State University. He declared for the 2009 NBA Draft, but like the Raptors’ other big man Chris Boucher, Baynes went unsigned. This led to Baynes moving to Europe to look for employment in basketball.

Baynes returned to USA to sign with the San Antonio Spurs in early 2013. He made 2 Finals runs with the team, winning the championship in 2014.

The emergence of Aron Baynes as a starter in the NBA

Baynes didn’t find much playing time with the crowded Spurs frontcourt, so he then signed with the Detroit Pistons. Playing a backup role to Andre Drummond, Baynes was getting into the rhythm of playing ball at the NBA level slowly.

His fortunes changed for the better after signing with the Boston Celtics in 2017. Brad Stevens made him work on his shot, and employed him gainfully in matchups requiring two big men. Alongside Al Horford, Baynes became one of the best big man defenders in the league.

After being traded to the Phoenix Suns, Baynes became their default starter when Deandre Ayton was suspended for drug offenses. Through the 2019-20 season, Baynes achieved career highs of 11.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, while shooting an admirable 35.1% from the 3-point line as a big man.

Baynes projects as a great stretch big for the Raptors roster, and presents virtually no tradeoff on the defensive end.

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