So what happened in the past week for Toronto? Well, the Raptors finally returned home, for one. They also had a tidy 3-1 week featuring a few close games, one stinker (albeit an entertaining one for stretches), and more questions than answers as far the rotation is concerned.
Yes, coach Dwane Casey is still playing upwards of 12 players in each and every game so far in the early going. That means plenty of opportunities for the Raps’ gaggle of young guys to strut there stuff. It also makes for a wildly diverse batch of rankings.
Who rose (and who fell) this week for Toronto? Let’s see.
3 Young Gunz of the Week
1. Pascal Siakam (last week: 3)
When you get the shout out in Zach Lowe’s 10 Things I Like and Don’t Like column you get to be number one for the week. Siakam’s numbers don’t exactly explode off the page — 7.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and at least one speed-freak drive per game in 16.9 minutes. But as Lowe points out, Pascal is showing more control with his dribble game, finding new ways to finish at the rim, and making it impossible to not play him more. Not bad for a guy we were begging Casey to bench last season.
2. OG Anunoby (last week: 4)
You know who else got a positive mention in Lowe’s column? That’s right — our favourite quote machine OG! Like Siakam, Anunoby’s numbers aren’t popping off the page, but he acquitted himself well on the road in Portland, helped keep things going against Chicago, and (mostly) closed the game out against the Pelicans. And it’s not like OG needs to put up numbers to jump off.
3. Fred VanVleet (last week: 8)
Consider this something of an honourable mention for our guy Fred. Taken in total, VanVleet’s week wasn’t that great. He was mostly invisible in the Raptors wins this week (and completely ineffective against the Pels last night). But in that one loss to the Wizards? Well, we got the whole Fred VanVleet Experience — 5-of-7 shooting for 10 points, plus four assists, and a bevy of ridiculous finishes at the rim.
Now, FVV’s scoring explosion may have happened because he was guarded by Tomas Satoransky, but kudos to the guy for keeping a level head, and for keeping on the attack. The Raps didn’t win — but the loss certainly wasn’t on Fred.
The Other Guys
4. Jakob Poeltl (last week: 1)
This says more about the Raptors insane depth right now than anything else for big Jak. After a superlative road trip in which Poeltl was asked to step up and into the crunch time lineup, his time this week took something of a hit. There were more minutes for the resurgent Lucas Nogueira, more burn for Siakam, and obviously more time for healthy starters Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas. And that’s OK.
Still, Poeltl put in work guarding DeMarcus Cousins last night, and continues to impress despite the ups-and-downs in minutes. Oh yeah, and he averaged 5.8 points and 6.1 boards in the 16.7 minutes per game he did play. Not bad.
5. Delon Wright (last week: 5)
If there’s a knock on Delon right now (and Norm, who we’ll get to in a second) is that there’s not much more to say about him. His spot on the team guarantees him more minutes — as the lead backup, or wingmate to Kyle Lowry — and his production has mostly reflected that.
So Wright gets back to the same spot he had last week because, well, he was roughly the same player — at times remarkable, at other times merely useful, and rarely taking anything off the table for the Raptors. Delon also greatly improved his chances of averaging a made three per game this year by hitting 4-of-5 in the past week.
6. Norman Powell (last week: 6)
Everything said for Delon goes for Powell too. His season so far hasn’t been the monstrous breakout maybe some of us dreamed of, but the past week saw him put up 9.0 points per game, with a three and a steal added as a bonus. Norm’s defense has also looked much sharper as of late. Perhaps this is damning with faint praise, but at the very least Powell is holding the line.
7. Lucas Nogueira (last week: 2)
Ah, he flew so close to the sun on wings made of, uh, long-ass arms, and now, like Icarus in the days of yore, Bebe has returned from whence he came.
OK, it’s not so grim. Nogueira average 15.2 minutes per game this week and made his presence felt (e.g. 1.5 blocks per game!). It was just funny to watch him pick up three fouls against Cousins last night and disappear into a cloud.
8. Bruno Caboclo (last week: 9)
Bruno gets a bump this week — out of the basement, naturally — because he has returned to the one place where he truly remains king: the G-League. Considering the Raptors 905, as a franchise, was created in part to give Bruno some burn, his revival there is something to be celebrated.
Also: in the 905’s home opener on Wednesday night against the Grand Rapids Drive, Bruno started at centre, finished with 17 points (on 7-of-11 shooting, including a perfect 3-of-3 from deep) and 6 rebounds, and helped hold his opponents to 65 total points. Attaboy, Bruno!
9. Alfonzo McKinnie (last week: 7)
McKinnie was also in the G-League this week, which does not mean quite the same thing as it does for Bruno. It was never really in doubt that Alfonzo would play for the 905, but despite a strong debut, we’ve got to place him here because of it. Head up, my guy, it’s a cold world out there.