Garrett Temple: 2023-24 Season in Review  

The forward was the wise and veteran mentor that the new Raptors needed.

The following is part of Raptors Republic’s series of pieces reviewing the season for the Toronto Raptors. You can find all the pieces in the series here.

On March 25, after one more loss of the stumbling Toronto Raptors to the Brooklyn Nets, Garrett Temple, stylishly attired with a black turtleneck and with a grey suit looked calm in the Raptors’ locker room. He even looked satisfied, fulfilled after having eagerly given everything out there: for the very first time in the season, he had played his third game in a row in what was left of the injured Raptors. 

But Temple was going to get hit by the final storm in such a tempestuous season, the unexpected but dramatic ending to finish off an eventful year that saw trades, blowout defeats and legal battles. 

Temple was asked about the breaking news of Jontay’s Porter’s gambling investigation that shook the NBA minutes before the game. Still, he remained unfazed and poised. 

“I’m surprised, but at the end of the day, nothing has been proven yet,” he said to CityNews’s reporter Lindsay Dunn.

“My position is that we’re backing him and hope that it has not been implied,” Temple said. 

The 38-year-old veteran stepped up with a straight and serious response to remind the presumption of innocence, to defend his teammate. 

Porter would eventually be banned from playing in the NBA for life, but Temple showed in the face of a fairly complex question what his elegant fit hints:a high-respected Vice President of the National Basketball Players Association, and also the exemplary father figure in the beardless locker room of the Raptors. 

Temple, who signed a one-year contract with the Raptors last summer, is the paradigm that basketball goes beyond numbers, and that the human component is not always visible. 

The forward has had a long 14-year NBA career that has seen him wearing the jerseys of the San Antonio Spurs, the Miami Heat and the New Orleans Pelicans among others. 

He just played 27 games last season. Eleven of these appearances were in the final stretch, when the sputtering Raptors were nowhere in the standings, with injuries mercilessly impacting the team. 

Temple averaged just 10 minutes per game to go with 3.3 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1 assist while shooting 37 percent from the field and 30 percent from deep.  

Not great numbers, not a player who made a difference at first sight. Instead, he cooked off the court. 

He was one of the few pieces of good news in such a tumultuous season. Temple was one of the very few guarantors of stability before the frantic parade of players of the second half of the season.

The nostalgia of the happiest times suppressed the rebuilding spirit of the Raptors as the franchise didn’t trade away Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby until mid-season. Chris Boucher was the only player who remained from the 2019 championship. Exits of other longtime NBA players Dennis Schröder and Thadeus Young by the trade deadline left Toronto almost out of veterans. 

But Temple stayed to continue with his mission as a necessary mentor for cornerstones of the future Scottie Barnes and especially Gradey Dick, who was going through his first season in the best basketball league in the world.

The American forward showcased his essence and vocation as an inspiring teacher with Dick. He exuded nothing but passion in mentoring the rookie. He could switch between being a fan, pumping him up profusely from the bench, and being the rigorous boss who talked his ear right off in the warmups.

And it seemed the young shooter was pleased with the experience.

“Garrett does an amazing job,” Dick said after the Wizards vs Raptors on March 23.  

“All the seasons he has played he finds out what works for him and gives me a little advice and tips of what I can do, ice bath, cold bath, kind of both, buying into that. It’s huge, a lot of what people don’t see,” he said. 

Scottie Barnes was also fascinated byTemple’s lessons.

“Every day sitting next to Garrett Temple picking his mind, watching the way he handles things and he gets out there on the floor and plays so hard and so passionate. For me just sitting back and watching that you know I just can’t wait to get back on the floor and play my heart out,” Barnes said in the ending-season press conference. 

“Just seeing the type of veteran he is and how he just doesn’t take things for granted, that helps me. So every time we got a huddle, every time at halftime we talk, every time our team has something you know it just helps me go on to that leadership role. Just watching him do it, everything comes so natural to me,” he said. 

The Raptors might have found in Garrett Temple the required veteran to lead their rebuilding process, the proven mentor to spread the habits that lie in a winning culture. 

Temple is that generous team-oriented guy who takes the youngsters under his wings right off the bat to show them what it takes to make a name for themselves in the NBA. 

He is the kind of leader who opens the eyes of beginners by teaching them to carry themselves, how to take care of their minds and their bodies, how to block out the buzz of the media in the heyday of the social media era and how to unlock their abilities through the love for the game. 

The Raptors should consider resigning one of the few old-school and born-in-the-80s leaders that are left. 

He went undrafted in the 2009 draft and has gone through all kinds of experiences while playing for 16 different teams including spills in the G-League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers among others.

Temple also got a taste of overseas basketball in Italy with Casale Monferrato in the 2011-2012 season. The much reiterated saying “be ready” in the NBA setting is not a cliché for the Louisiana-born veteran, the definition of a seasonal worker in basketball. 

But, in one of the few interesting takeaways in the disappointing final stretch of the season, Temple found he still feels the inner fire to play according to what he revealed to Sportsnet. He’s more than just a mentor. 

“These last weeks showed me I definitely still can play. My calling card has always been defence and I feel I still can guard, especially having to guard guys like Cam Thomas and Mikal Bridges. I can bring something to the team,” he said to The Raptors Show on April 11. 

Temple, very high-spirited, also confirmed he is down to keep playing in Toronto. 

“My family loves Toronto. I like the organization a lot and I’d love to be back,” he said.  

Temple is a valuable asset in all senses, a low-cost veteran who helps improve young core of players and is willing to play limited minutes. A steal. A win-win. 

Garrett Temple’s commitment to his role and his authenticity as a mentor are so high that not just his fit or his words reflect his values. His Instagram also features nothing but seriousness as he lists his principles and their hierarchy in his profile:

  1. God
  2. Father
  3. Husband

Basketball may not make the list, yet he might be the godfather of the newborn Raptors.