It was a Knicks-y week for the Toronto Raptors, as they went 1-1 against their division rival on the way to a 2-1 week. This, of course, included the 41-10 third quarter shellacking on Wednesday night that we’ve surely all forgotten.
Can anything in there be blamed on the young guys? Sure! Everyone deserves some blame when you come out of the locker room and get blasted for a 28-0 run. Jakob Poeltl looked like he had got into the stuffing too early. Pascal Siakam tried to come in and rev an engine that wouldn’t start. DeMar DeRozan died on a screen about fifteen ti— right, right, the young guys.
Even with that mental lapse, it was overall a good week in Young Raptors world. A quality win against the Wizards and a fun blowout of the Knicks at the Air Canada Centre offset any bad feelings I might have.
Let’s see how the dudes rank.
3 Young Gunz of the Week
1. Pascal Siakam (last week: 2)
Another hella fun week for “PSkills” (which is, according to the Raptors organization, his nickname). Following up a 13-point, 4-rebound, 5-assist outing vs. New York, Siakam was a huge reason the Raptors were able to beat Washington, as his four points and nine rebounds belied a +18 and 95 defensive rating.
Basically, here’s the drill: Serge Ibaka looks old and slow, Siakam comes in and runs hard and goes everywhere, and the Raptors profit.
My man even looked good next to Ibaka in the Raptors closing lineup on Wednesday, one that closed a 20-point Knicks lead to six on this award-winning play.
Great stuff from [checks paper again] PSkills this week.
2. Fred VanVleet (last week: 3)
He’s walking normally in Delon Wright’s larger shoes. VanVleet played the backup point guard in all three games this week, and will for the foreseeable future with Wright sitting out. He was solid again: 9-for-25 from the field total in about 20 minutes a game, making four of his 12 looks at three.
Look, Fred isn’t going to blow anyone away, but he’s steady and entirely not bad on both ends of the court. He’s getting more patient in traffic too — which is an area Kyle Lowry and Wright have had an edge on him to this point.
3. OG Anunoby (last week: 1)
OG had a low key week, but continued to start at small forward for the Raptors. Norm Powell returned in Wednesday’s game, but Anunoby held his role — possibly a strong show of support from Dwane Casey.
OG’s best game was an 11-point, 5-for-10 outing last Friday against New York, but he’s looked shaky with the three ball lately. That’s a trend for forwards playing next to Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, but the form looks good — the young man clearly has playing time to figure things out, and continues to bring it (hard) on the defensive end.
The Other Guys
4. Norman Powell (last week: 7)
Norm back! Powell played 23 good minutes on Wednesday coming off his hip pointer injury, scoring 11 on 3-of-4 from deep, adding four assists and a couple rebounds. It’ll be a bit of an experiment as he returns to a bench creator role — although Wednesday, he did spend most of the time playing off of Lowry or DeRozan.
A change of scenery could do Powell good. He was struggling before his injury, and is looking for some consistency — and perhaps his starting job back.
5. Jakob Poeltl (last week: 5)
Poeltl continues to battle with Bebe for minutes, and while his footwork is steady, he did have a lot of size to deal with this week in Kristaps Porzingis, Enes Kanter, and Marcin Gortat. I would’ve liked to see Poeltl battle more in all three games, as Bebe went full space cadet at certain points. Ten minutes a night doesn’t seem like enough.
6. Lucas Nogueira (last week: 6)
With so many energetic youngsters on this Raptors team, it’s hard to handle someone like Nogueira who is moment-to-moment with what he provides.
This was an okay week from Bebe initially — he was a perfect 3-for-3 in the Washington game. The New York game was abysmal, though, and his court awareness was below zero during the Knicks’ third quarter domination. For the statistics on that one, I throw to Sam:
7. Lorenzo Brown (last week: not here!)
Brown is here from the G-League, and he played 25 minutes as a hybrid guard behind Fred VanVleet. He did not score. I don’t have much analysis.
T-8. Delon Wright, Bruno Caboclo, Alfonzo McKinnie
Well, these guys didn’t play (McKinnie had a 2-minute, 2-rebound night on Friday — whatever). Very sad about Delon, very happy he’ll be back sooner than we feared.