TORONTO â?? Through the absence of Kyle Lowry and the angst behind a team that was floundering for a while, there was an area of recent progress on the Toronto Raptors roster that has been overlooked.
Rookie Jakob Poeltl is the first Austrian drafted into the NBA and for the most part has been a quiet presence on the end of the Raptors bench. Lately, though, the 7-footer from the University of Utah has earned himself significant minutes.
Poeltl had a strong pre-season and although coach Dwane Casey settled on Pascal Siakam as the starting power forward in place of the injured Jared Sullinger, Poeltl saw 10 or more minutes in the first seven games of the season and even got a couple of starts in place of an injured Jonas Valanciunas.
The minutes dried up after that, but Poeltl continued to learn whether watching from the end of the bench, in practice, playing with the D-League Raptors 905.
For most of that period Lucas Nogueira was eating up most of those backup centre minutes and doing a solid job. Lately though it has been Nogueira on the end of the bench and Poeltl coming in. Poeltl is averaging 12.8 minutes a night in March.
“For me, just every time you put him in, he …
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