The Toronto Raptors have a great cycle going these days. Rest, score a boatload of points, rest, do it again. They played but two games this week, went 2-0, and have dropped at least 120 in the last three outings. They haven’t been below triple digits since November 12, against the Team That Shall Not Be Named. Our reign of pizza shall continue forever — nobody can stop these guys!
For the young dudes, this week saw a tighter rotation as Lucas Nogueira sat with a calf injury. In his stead, a pair of big men got the spotlight, and the unsinkable ship that is the bench kept sailing on.
Let’s break it down in the rankings.
3 Young Gunz of the Week
1. Jakob Poeltl (last week: 4)
No longer in a battle for backup centre minutes with Nogueira, Jakob Poerfect had himself a week. [Ed. Note: Poerfect? John,] Against Indiana, he was literally perfect: 8-for-8 from the field for 18 points, six rebounds, and two blocks. Not one for the sensational, Poeltl put together the line with minimal flair:
Career night for the Austrian hammer.— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 2, 2017
18P | 6R | 100 FG% pic.twitter.com/TAUHrJgbK9
He followed that up with 13 points in 22 minutes against Phoenix, adding five rebounds. Week after week, we nail down the point: Poeltl’s impact is in the small stuff. He sets screens, rolls hard, and positions well. It doesn’t need to be more interesting than that, but 15.5 points per game is a great cherry on top.
Also, while the Raptors top-ranked bromance continues to mesh, Poetl and Siakam get cuter by the day. Just look at these close friends being happy together. My heart melts.
2. Fred VanVleet (last week: 1)
After a mini-Kyle Lowry outburst earned him the top spot last week, VanVleet’s numbers came down to earth. Still, he’s filling out those stat lines with more points and intangibles: 13 points, six assists against Phoenix and the Lowry-esque 11 points, six assists, four rebounds, and a steal against Indiana.
You get the sense that Lowry gets to his bench players by osmosis (that, or the Dwane Casey system is really good at putting point guards in a position to succeed). VanVleet has continued to be really good at keeping his dribble alive, making those Nash-like forays to the basket and coming out the other side to keep the play going. There’s a little surprise every week with this guy.
3. OG Anunoby (last week: 4)
After a couple weeks of being ignored on the offensive end, OG finally got another signature game in his starting small forward spot. Against Phoenix, he dropped 4-of-5 from deep for 16 points, two rebounds, and a steal.
There’s still a sense that offense is gravy with Anunoby, especially considering the volume of scoring that DeMar DeRozan and Lowry have been able to provide — the team is scoring 120 comfortably just by sheer depth.
Still, there’s a certain glean to seeing OG succeed that’s not there with the others. Whether it’s his NBA-ready body, his ability to guard star players in his rookie season, or the three-point touch, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Anunoby has the most upside of anyone on this list.
The Other Guys
4. Norman Powell (last week: 2)
Quiet week for Norm after blowing the lid off in three games last week. The team didn’t need him to score with Lowry’s dominance, but 1-of-7 from three in two games is a bit of a bummer. CJ Miles returning and getting more shots has something to do with this, but Powell’s consistency from range is a continued topic of fascination.
5. Pascal Siakam (last week: 3)
I could talk every week about Siakam’s speed and energy and wax poetic. The reality this week is he was more of a footnote in the grand scheme (again, we’re only talking two games). Six points and a ton of missed shots for PSkills this week, and it’s something that’ll happen every so often for a young player.
T-6: Lorenzo Brown, Alfonzo McKinnie, Delon Wright, Bruno Caboclo
30 seconds of garbage time does not a ranking make. Brown and McKinnie had a quiet pair of games, while Delon Wright continues to sit with a shoulder injury (he looked swag at the Raps City Social though). Bruno is the shining light on a struggling 905 team — he may have found his home.