What is a vice in an opponent is a virtue in a teammate.
Take power forward Tyler Hansbrough, a free agent signee unveiled by the Raptors on Monday.
The six-foot-nine, 27-year-old Hansbrough is already famous in Toronto, albeit for the wrong reason. His over-the-top throwdown of rookie Jonas Valanciunas last season was a YouTube staple.
Over four years in Indiana, Hansbrough distinguished himself largely on the number of bodies he could bring to the ground and the number of the times someone else did likewise. Last season he averaged about 17 minutes for the Pacers and contributed 4.6 rebounds and seven points per game. His YouTube list of greatest hits include dust-ups with Chris Andersen, Will Bynum, Undonis Haslem and Kurt Thomas, just to name a few.
Mayhem, he says, is part of the package.
“I think I can bring a lot of toughness, a lot of hard work and effort,” he said. “I want to bring some leadership just from the way I approach the game.”
The Raptors figure to have a very engaged frontcourt. Jonas Valanciunas, seen these days tearing through the Summer League in Las Vegas is inexhaustible and Amir Johnson is one of the true hustle talents in the NBA. Add Hansbrough to the list and you have a lot of traffic toward the basketball.
“It’s good because you fight for every rebound,” Hansbrough said. “You get a lot of loose balls, the 50/50 plays that can decide a game. To have high motors like that, not every team has that.”
Hansbrough draws a blank on the Valanciunas play.
“I really don’t remember that play until everybody started mentioning it to me,” he said. “It wasn’t a big deal, it’s just sometimes the way I play. He hasn’t really brought it up to me. We’ll talk about it and probably laugh, hopefully.”
Raptors GM Masai Ujiri said Hansbrough is maturing offensively.
“Before you would plug him in and he would sometimes hold the ball,” Ujiri said.
“He’s gotten so much better. He kicks the ball out. He plays under control.”
Still, the Raptors GM knows what he was getting. After a year in which the Raptors defence noticeably flagged, Hansbrough is being brought in to add some teeth and maybe loosen a few as well.
“He has toughness, grit, he’s a winner for sure,” Ujiri said. “He’s won every step of the way. We want to add those kinds of players.”
While far from a polished scorer, Hansbrough can influence a game. He was fourth in the NBA last season in free throw attempts per 48 minutes (7.59) and sixth in offensive rebounds per 48 minutes.