With another losing week in the books, is there reason for hope? Of course there is!
The Toronto Raptors are nothing if not consistent… consistently playing with your emotions! After a horrendous loss against the well-oiled machine that are the Utah Jazz, Toronto came out gunning against the lifeless Sacramento Kings, walloping them to the tune of “lost so bad they had to fire their coach”!
That high only lasted so long as Toronto took the floor against the best team in the NBA in the Golden State Warriors, blinked, and were down 16-5 in a game they would go on to lose, naturally.
That leaves the Raptors with another losing week in the books, but a losing week that holds a sliver of hope in the potential return of OG Anunoby and sweet prince Yuta Watanabe. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and take the temperature.
Pascal Siakam, Turning a Corner
Though Pascal Siakam has taken heaps and heaps of criticism since Kawhi Leonard took his ball and went home, it’s possible that there isn’t anyone harder on Siakam than Pascal himself. Well, also the legions of ass-hats on Twitter, but they don’t really count.
watch siakam on these sequences pic.twitter.com/0YYZfepkWP
— William Lou (@william_lou) November 19, 2021
A 4-point night on 14% shooting and trips on the defensive end that looked like that?! Here’s what Pascal had to say after his embarrassing effort against the Jazz.
Siakam: “Some nights I’ll score whatever and it’ll be tough but I have to keep my consistency on defence… and I think that’s something that I have to get better at and I have to bring that intensity every single night so everyone can follow.”
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) November 20, 2021
How did Pascal collect himself and follow up what might be one of his worst games in the NBA? Well…
Pascal Siakam tonight:
He joins Kevin Durant & Kelly Oubre as the only players to score 30+ points on 95 TS% this season.
— keeks (@keerthikau) November 20, 2021
Sometimes — in the words of Nick Nurse — you just have a stinker, and you’ve got to flush it down. That’s exactly what Pascal did, as his performance against the Kings was one of his best games of his career! Here’s hoping Raptors fans are in store for more of the Kings Pascal and much, much less of the Jazz Pascal.
Gary Trent Jr., Smiling through Life
While Gary Trent Jr. might have seen his grip on the leaderboard for steals slip away, it certainly doesn’t seem to have impacted his happiness one single bit.
A man who enjoys his work pic.twitter.com/8jMFA8dVz3
— Josh Kern (@joshuakern) November 20, 2021
Trent Jr. has been a revelation for the Raptors this year on the defensive end, but his offensive game has been a life raft when Toronto’s ship begins to sink.
Second-quarter Gary is becoming a thing. Trent scored 8 straight points for the Raptors in the 2nd Q last night. Tonight, he’s got 13 of 18 points in Q2, including 8 straight… again.
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) November 20, 2021
Instant offense is absolutely something that this iteration of the the Toronto Raptors need, but it’s important to keep perspective. Toronto did have a losing week after all and like Siakam, there is definitely room for improvement in Gary’s game, especially on the defensive end, where he has improved by leaps and bounds already.
great little thing from Curry here. Looney screens, Raptors deny. Curry accepts and cuts backdoor but watch as he clears. Goes right into a screen on GTJ for Wiggins. Poole flows into a P&R with Looney. There’s no low man to help on Wiggins since FVV attached/GTJ screened pic.twitter.com/iHzTLoJRzy
— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) November 22, 2021
Like his time in Portland, Trent Jr. is still prone to a spot of snoozing on the defensive end and in Nick Nurse’s extremely aggressive scheme, that’s a death knell. All the same, you can’t expect a leopard to change his Louis V spots over night, and Gary is still very much a work in progress at the ripe old age of 22. Keep those expectations tempered!
OG Anunoby & Yuta Watanabe, Please Come Back Now
We are channeling the return of Yuta Watanabe and OG Anunboy for tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies and there is no more to it than that. Please, come back, the Raptors badly need you!
Scottie Barnes, Tired?
At Florida State last year, Scottie Barnes played a grand total of 595 minutes in 24 games, starting just seven. This season, through 15 games with Toronto, he’s already logged 530 minutes as a full-time starter.
Kid’s gotta be tired.
— Joshua Howe (@Howevolution) November 22, 2021
Not only is everything that Joshua Howe said in the tweet above true, Scottie has also logged all of those minutes at the NBA level while playing lead guard for stretches and guarding the opposing team’s best or second best player — which has means a hulking C, at times — in a defensive scheme that is ultra aggressive and not the easiest to grasp.
Barnes has had an excellent seasons thus far and there’s a reason he’s in the discussion for Rookie of the Year, but if he’s tired at the 15-game mark, then the next 60+ games could be a real challenge for the talented rookie.
Rudy Gay, Not This Guy
Yes Rudy Gay is a former Raptor and current family member of Greatest Raptor of All Time, Kyle Lowry, but it seems like it’s fair to say that Raptors fans have had just about enough of this guy. In Rudy’s first game of the season for the Utah Jazz, he put up 20 points on 88% shooting from the field and 83% from 3 on six attempts and five boards. In the — NSFW — words of some dude in 2011:
Here’s to not seeing Rudy again until January and then never again until maybe the NBA Finals where the Raptors will definitely make it and maybe Utah will be lucky if they do. Okay bye now!