Weems just what the Raptors ordered

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:33 PM ET

Sonny Weems, problem solver?

Not exactly the role anyone envisioned for him when he fell into the Raptors’ lap in the Amir Johnson deal, but you could make the case that is what he has become as the season winds down.

By inserting Weems in place of Hedo Turkoglu in the starting lineup, the Raptors have managed to keep this boat afloat, so to speak.

Turkoglu wasn’t happy with the “ball” he was seeing in the starting unit. Not that it should have come as any surprise that just about every play the team runs goes through Chris Bosh, but coming in when Bosh is normally headed to the bench for a rest allows much more of the offence to run through Turkoglu.

Weems, in the starting five, gives the Raptors more opportunities to get out and run and his athleticism ensures teams have to be accountable for him venturing into the paint, meaning they can’t focus solely on Bosh in and around the basket.

And while it was initially thought that Turkoglu coming out of the starting five was another form of punishment for his off-court indiscretions while battling a flu bug, head coach Jay Triano made it clear following Monday’s win over the Charlotte Bobcats that the changes to the starting five with Antoine Wright and Weems in and Turkoglu and DeMar DeRozan out, would be the case for the remainder of the regular season.

Weems’ play of late has made that possible.

Weems has reached a point in his career where there is some real consistency with his jump shot, another means of keeping defences at least somewhat honest and unable to key in on Bosh as much.

And best of all, opponents so far have been willing to let Weems have those shots.

“It’s automatic now,” teammate Antoine Wright says of Weems’ mid-range jumper. “I don’t even really think the other teams are respecting him yet. I think they’re still playing him as a driver. He’s done a good job of staying with it and getting his work in and knocking it down.

“He’s really helping this team right now.”

Triano has seen things in much the same way.

“He gives us good energy,” Triano said of Weems. “He gives us deflections, he chases balls, he runs the floor, gets you a couple of quick buckets in transition. I just think that when you play teams with good athletes he neutralizes that and we need that.”

In the three starts he has made in place of Turkoglu this past week, Weems is a combined 11-for-19 from the floor with nine rebounds, three steals and a three assists.

More importantly, the Raptors have been in all three games. They’ve won only one of them, but a better fourth quarter either Friday night against Denver or Sunday night against Miami and the Raptors might be talking about a potential sixth-place finish in the conference instead of holding off the Chicago Bulls for eighth.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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