The Toronto Raptors have just passed the first quarter mark of the season and it is a good time to have a mini review in light of their 126-113 victory over the Phoenix Suns. Their 15-7 record has them behind the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers as expected, but their overall performance is even a bit better than that record suggests as it should have included a few more wins. On top of that, they have already played through their dreaded West Coast trip and no longer have to play in Golden State or San Antonio. So let’s go back to preschool days as we take an A,B,C look at the first twenty odd games of your Toronto Raptors.
A is for Anunoby
The rookie OG Anunoby was supposed to ease his way into the lineup as he was recovering from an injury. No one, including the Raptors, thought he would be ready to start the season, but there he was. You weren’t sure how he would fit in with the second unit and one would expect that he would look lost out there. As a friend aptly pointed out… he always “looks” lost out there. Thankfully, looks are deceiving as despite the glazed look, the kid worked very well with the second unit using his length and defensive abilities to disrupt opposing teams.
When Norman Powell was hurt and missed a few games, Anunoby was inserted into the starting lineup. He still has that lost look in his eyes, but the former Hoosier seems to be turning into that lock down wing defender that the Raptors have always coveted. So much so that he has retained the starting role even when Powell returned. Anunoby is only averaging 6.3 points per game, but that is alright as the Raptors starting unit can score boatloads on its own. One stat to keep an eye on though is his 3pt shooting percentage which is currently at a respectable 38.2% and improving. Defences can’t afford to leave him alone as he is proving he can hit that corner three which also spaces out the floor for everyone else. It will be fun to see how much more he can contribute over the coming years.
B is for Bench
#nbA #NBAtipo in un modo o nell'altro i Raptors continuano A a vincere le partite grazie alla second unit (rifatta da 0 in estate e piena di giovani), e B a distruggere gli avversari senza @DeMar_DeRozan . pic.twitter.com/Znub9X4muU
— dario skerletic (@hoop_talent) November 15, 2017
I have said it before that the Raptors bench is not only productive but their style of play is so much fun to watch. What I wasn’t aware of, however, was just how versatile it was as well. It almost doesn’t matter who you throw out there. We already spoke about Powell subbing in for Anunoby on this unit, but we also have Delon Wright getting injured and Fred Van Vleet steps in or CJ Miles missing a game or two and this second unit still doesn’t miss a beat. It is getting to the point that you or I could even be the fifth member of the bench-5 and they would still produce at a high rate. Ok, maybe you.. not me.. as I um, um.. I’m still working on my jump shot.
As the season progresses, NBA teams will start to figure them out as they always tend to do. This means the unit will have less space to operate in and less time to make the correct decisions. It will be up to Coach Casey to ensure that they are ready for that challenge and keep up their level of play. The best part of this group is that they are all still young, and have not yet reached their potential. Well, other than Grandpa Miles of course.
C is for Come on Man!
This really has nothing to do with the Raptors per se, but what in the blue blazes is going on with the referee’s when a player like Lance Stephenson gets a ton more respect than DeMar DeRozan? The games versus the Indiana Pacers were very entertaining I admit, but they were also close games because the referees’ allowed them to be close. DeRozan was absolutely manhandled, bodychecked and mugged on several occasions by that ear-blowing, lace-untying headcase known as Stevenson, yet he gets the call from all three refs? We already knew that Sports Illustrated has it out for DD but et tu referees? Something is certainly rotten in the NBA and that awful stink is from your pinstriped officials. By the way, your next day apologies are hollow and don’t mean anything to anyone. For once I would just love to hear NBA Commissioner Adam Silver say, “Yes, there is a bias against Toronto and we intentionally screwed them over.”
— NextSportStar.com (@NextSportStar) November 15, 2017
One final note on DeRozan… gotta give the man credit. Those invisible high-fives from the free throw line have me cracking up everytime he does it. Love it!
» Sports » Raptors Quarter Review