Since we last spoke, the Raptors are still out there, somewhere. It seems like an eternity since those Chicago and Philadelphia routs at the Air Canada Centre. On paper, a six-game road trip doesn’t seem that long; in reality, when it’s at the beginning of the season it feels like forever. I’m exhausted.
You know what’s still fun, though? The young guys! They played okay this week, I already forgot about the Denver game. Wins against Los Angeles and Portland — the latter a defensive miracle — showcased all the youthful promise you could want.
Now let’s rank those dudes.
3 Young Gunz of the Week
1. Jakob Poeltl (last week: 1)
With Jonas Valanciunas continuing to sit, and Serge Ibaka missing a game with a knee injury, Poeltl continued to be rock solid. His box score figures don’t jump out at you — he didn’t get into double digts in any of the team’s games this week — but with all the ups and downs of the roster, it’s amazing to have a guy who comes in, blocks out, and positions himself well. My love affair with Jak isn’t over yet.
2. Lucas Nogueira (last week: 6)
Bebe is probably going to jump around these rankings like a popcorn kernel, and for good reason. His wild inconsistencies and shaky health are straight up problematic. This week, though, with a thinner big man rotation, Bebe came back from an injury of his own and looked fantastic.
His defensive mobility was welcome, especially against Portland where he put together a 17 point, nine rebound, five block, two assist, two steal night. Take that, fantasy basketball nerds.
He looked a bit lackadaisacal in the Denver loss, but who didn’t? There were enough positives to be pretty psyched about Bebe this week.
3. Pascal Siakam (last week: 5)
Not to be overlooked, Skills followed up a 20-point outburst against Golden State with an 18-point, 8-for-10 outing in Los Angeles, as he banged with some tough competition in Julius Randle on the other end. Siakam started in that game, and also got the start in Portland, where he was a little quieter but still solid with six points and five boards.
Any and all Siakam outbursts in scoring are welcome this season, but much like Poeltl, his glory is in the details — another hard-working guy on a roster full of them.
The Other Guys
4. OG Anunoby (last week: 3)
Tough for me to drop OG out of the top three, but there’s clear limitations on his offensive confidence right now. His defense is sensational, and he’s fast accelerating to the most adaptable player on that end, but a 6-for-21 week shooting the ball is rough.
Still, look at numbers like this from the Portland game!
Starters were a +11. The OG+Bebe pairing had a 76.8 D-Rating in 10 minutes. OG-Poeltl was 76.1 in 12min.— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) October 31, 2017
5. Delon Wright (last week: 2)
The steady Eddie of the Raptors’ young guys, Wright was more a victim of circumstance than anything in a quiet week. In the Lakers game, he played just 11 minutes, as Kyle Lowry soaked up playing time to help take advantage of Baby Laker (read: Lonzo Ball) mistakes.
In the other two games, Wright looked good. His shooting needs to improve, but he’s finding avenues to the basket, and presents incredible length on the other end.
6. Norman Powell (last week: 4)
Wherefore art thou, Playoff Norm? He had a small 14-point resurgence in the Denver game, but considering its blowout nature, you can’t take too much from it.
Norm is still pushing his game to start the season — same deal as last week. A lot of missed layups, just 3-for-12 from distance on the week, and hesitation that makes a viewer nervous. You expect him to figure it out, but for now it’s pretty ugly.
7. Alfonzo McKinnie (last week: 8)
Alfonzo played! In garbage time against Denver, McKinnie came out for nine minutes, made all three of his shots, and put together a +14. All credit to the kid for working his butt off.
8. Fred VanVleet (last week: 7)
I’m not sure where we’re at with VanVleet. His value to the team is in rim runs and shot-making, but he looks hesitant to do both when he’s in the game. The Raptors may be better off looking at a bigger bench lineup with Siakam (who can make shots??) instead of VanVleet in that small forward spot. It’s November, so it’s all fluid right now.
9. Bruno Caboclo (last week: 9)
Got a DNP-CD in the one game this season where he could’ve played. Hasn’t posted to Instagram in a while. I’m very nervous about Bruno, guys.