We’re going to handle preseason player profiles differently this year on RaptorBlog. For each player on the 2012-13 Raptors’ active roster, Joseph Casciaro and I are going to email our thoughts back and forth and then post the resulting conversation on the blog. It’s an edgy new form of journalism! Or something…

Aaron Gray, C, 7’0″, 270 lbs.
2011-12 stats: 49 games, 16.6 MPG, 3.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.3 BPG, 0.4 SPG, .516 FG%, .000 3P%, .532 FT%, 11.1 PER

Scott: I went into last season expecting to hate the Aaron Gray Experience. Heck, I wanted to hate the Aaron Gray Experience. I mean, just look at the guy. He’s a giant, doughy oaf. But as the season wore on, the guy grew on me.

Let me be clear that if you’re playing Aaron Gray for more than 15 minutes a game, you’re in big trouble. But if you need a guy to “be big” and dish out some fouls to Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum, Gray is your man. Plus, he’s a phenomenal rebounder — with the exception of Solomon Alabi’s small sample, Gray led the Raptors with his 12.4 rebounds per 36 minutes last season.

Joseph: Gray played a career-high 16.6 minutes per game last season, and I agree that’s too much Aaron Gray if you want to be playing meaningful basketball in March and April, but with the addition of Jonas Valanciunas and even a minimal improvement from Ed Davis, Gray should fall below 15 minutes a night while hopefully still serving his role dutifully as the fifth big man this season.

While I’m hoping an improved team and much deeper team means less minutes for Gray, it’s really not meant to be a knock on his overall impact. Sure, you probably give up something on offence while The White Panther roams the paint, but he knows his role, does his job on the defensive end, likes to play physical and finished as one of the top-5 defensive rebounders in the NBA last season.

Every team can use a role playing big man like Gray somewhere on their bench, and I was actually pleased that the Raptors re-signed him, despite how insignificant the transaction might have seemed.

Scott: Earlier this summer, I assumed that Gray would go into the season as the starting center with Valanciunas coming off the bench. As we enter training camp, there are some rumblings that Amir Johnson could win the starting center role because he bulked up in the off-season and there aren’t a ton of high-profile “pure centers” in the league right now, anyway. If that happens, Gray would likely become the third-string center and will be lucky to play 10 minutes per game — which might be just as well for everyone.

I don’t have anything else to say about Aaron Gray, except that his nickname (“The White Panther”) is fantastic and was the best one on the team before Quincy “The Cookie Monster” Acy arrived on the scene.

Joseph: I don’t know what it says about us as a duo or as part of this much maligned fan-base that the majority of our Aaron Gray profile had to do with the fact that his minutes are going to be limited, we think that’s a good thing, but we’re also happy to have him around.

In any event, I expect Gray to continue to be a fine option as the team’s no-nonsense fifth big man near the end of the bench and also expect that he will continue to be the guy Raptors fans enjoy chanting “M-V-P” at when he has a decent game in a blowout win, though I don’t think that’s fair – Just because he’s a big white guy, doesn’t mean he should be subjected to the same type of back-handed cheering that Brian Scalabrine endured. At last Aaron’s a serviceable NBA player.

Scott: You want to talk about “servicing”? You’ve reminded me that I need to get back to work on my masterpiece of erotic fan fiction: “50 Shades of Aaron Gray”.

Comments (11)

  1. I followed your link. OK. Gray was a good defensive rebounder. Clicked on PG on the link. Lowry was #2!!! Waaay ahead of Jose at #35.
    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/statistics/_/position/pg/sort/defReboundRate/year/2012

  2. Love that he knows his role, plays within himself, never gets delusions that he can shot outside 3 ft. It’s all about matchups with Gray and his minutes will be what they need to be. If there were more traditional centres in the league he would play a lot more and be a great journeyman type player. But anybody who plays away from the hoop or is quick down the floor has got him beat.

  3. Rasho knows his job and gives it 100%.

  4. It baffles me why more teams didn’t want this guy. I think he is a solid backup center with size. You would think some of the undersized contenders would love this guy to rebound and push guys around.

  5. You hit the nail on the head there Scott. He’s a giant, doughy oaf. The only reason he’s on this team is beacause of the lack of depth at centre. Everytime he’s on the floor I cringe because he seems to slow the whole team down. There is no flow on offence whatsoever. Sure he’s big and can grab boards, but I would rather sacrifice size to develop guys like Davis, who won’t make us look terrible on the offensive end. Now I realise that Davis would get ripped apart by guys like Bynum and Howard, but so would Gray on offense. The less he plays will be a sign that this team is headed in the right direction and finally ready to compete on a nightly basis.

  6. time for a voice of reason…

    First…Blart. Do you have some insider information as to Gray’s NOT having offers from other teams?
    I thought not.

    Sly…Not only does Davis get ripped by Bynum and Howard, Amir gets his ass handed to him as well. NOBODY defends against these types of stars like Gray does.
    Fast, Fleet Footed 7 Foot men are rare. They are in fact All Stars. They are franchise players. You get Gray for nothing and you still put forth such nonsense.

    He has more heart and ability to defend under the basket than 3 Noah’s. Noah is a flopping, arm swinging fool that benefits from all star guard help. Without Rose…the REAL Noah showed up…hurt.
    He was NOTHING without his star.

    Joseph and Scott…the real issue here is NOT Gray’s ability to score. The issue is the Raps had horrible outside shooting. Every damned team dug inside and dared the Raps to take their shots. They sucked. No center…not even Howard or Bynum, would have succeeded. If they had any success, it was due to star foul calls against anybody trying to defend them.
    Gray doesn’t get this. He, like all non stars, get calls against them all night long.

    He has NO help outside. Everybody, well…except those experts here, knew the Raps had no ability to spread the floor and as such required a center and forwards who could make their own shots.
    This is NOT a Gray tool. He plays big and smart. Not fast.
    He takes up space. He creates sanctuaries from which players can shoot. He is a wall providing opportunities for others.

    Please…allow for some reality in the numbers.

    • Oh well thank you Mr. Paul aka the voice of reason. My post was to point out that this team has NO depth at the center position, and that is the ONLY reason butterbean is on our team. Once Valinciunas establishes himself as a go to guy, hopefully there is no more need for Gray. So Amir gets his ass handed to him on a nightly basis, yet this article says he will more than likely be the starter….go figure. I have an opinion just like you Paul, the difference is I don’t go on blogs and call everyone out like I know everything.

      • words have meaning.
        and meaness gets to me.
        “He’s a giant, doughy oaf” doesn’t set well with me nor does it show me the people talking like this really know what they are talking about. And very likely never put themselves out front to be judged themselves.

        I expect everyone to stick to the facts.
        Your statement was a mean spirited name calling on a fella who gives everything every night.
        He in fact comes back from pretty tough medical conditions and performs as his coach needs. From heart conditions to badly sprained ankles, the kids fights back and comes back early…just because he is that kind.
        And the demeaning names are just wrong.
        That is why this coach loves this kid.
        Your name calling was being little.

        When I referred to Amir, I never, ever said he gets his handed to him “nightly”.
        I was in fact referring to earlier post and why our Eds and Amirs cannot be main centers. Perhaps fill ins…but not THE team center.
        The NBA is to damned mean and violent. And in playoffs they would get played like the ltlle fellas they are.
        Any so called expert that thiks otherwise totally ignors the results from last year.

        And this article’s points are exactly what I was suggesting were pretty bad.

        Look…the kid has proven his abilities for 6 or more years in the NBA. He does have to do it, like every pro, every night.

  7. Not once did I judge the man’s character, heart, or dedication. I think Aaron Gray is a great guy and teammate. The sports industry is a cut throat business, and players get ripped in the papers and on the internet everyday. You need to loosen up man, are you Gray’s best friend or something? He’s a BIG boy and a professional athlete, so I’m sure he can handle the name calling. You love the guy and what he brings to the table, and I respect that. I love the guy, but I love my team first and foremost. If we are playing Gray more than garbage minutes at the end of blowouts, then this team is in trouble. Have a nice day Paul.

  8. Come on Sly, when you start name calling, you are, whether intentionally or not, judging them. And then saying you are behind the team first and foremost, that’s a joke. Last time I checked, name calling (especially the bad and condescending ones) does not help build team unity. I think we all agree playing Gray more than garbage minutes is not a good sign for our team however, we must stop with name calling that does not contribute to anything much. And no, I am not his best friend or cousin.

  9. Scott writes for The Score, and he called him a big, doughy oaf. Why don’t you go criticize him? This is a blog numbnuts.
    Professional athletes get paid millions to play a game. Do you think they care what we are saying about them on a blog? They could care less. I highly doubt anything I’ve said here will hurt the team unity….that has to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

    When guys get together to watch a game, they bust each others chops, they swear, and they heckle. You seem like a smart guy, but you also seem extremely lame. “Hey guys, no name calling!!’ hahaha

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