The Toronto Raptors have been lauded league-wide for their depth this season. Long-term roster building is incredibly difficult in the NBA, especially when you’ve been a very good-but-not-great team for a sustained period. Miss one contract and a couple of picks and you’re totally pooched — just ask the Memphis Grizzlies. Hitting on late picks like OG Anunoby, Norman Powell and Delon Wright, fleecing the pick that became Jakob Poeltl from the Knicks and finding a real diamond in the rough in (the undrafted) Fred VanVleet has allowed Toronto to construct an effective bench out of thin air. When everyone is healthy, Toronto has 11 regulars that legitimately deserve playing time, relatively unheard of in the star-driven NBA.
Under Masai Ujiri’s leadership, Toronto has established a culture, from training camp to the 905, to the big club, in which players are rewarded for putting in time and effort. In which the whole is more than the sum of its parts. In which the needs of the team means more than the needs of the individual. As mentioned by our own fearless leader Daniel Reynolds yesterday, it’s a positively Spurs-ian attitude towards doing the damn thing.
Tonight in Minnesota, the Raptors will take on a franchise helmed by a man who seems to believe the polar opposite.
This, despite Teague missing nearly a quarter of the season. They have players 1-2-3-11 in total minutes, and Teague is top-100 even with the missed time. Thibs going full Thibs.— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) January 20, 2018
Tom Thibodeau had excellent success in Chicago, followed by a messy exit. One damning characteristic, however, plagued his time there and his reputation afterwards. ‘He plays his guys too much’, they shook their heads and scoffed. ‘He practices too hard’ they whispered.
Thibs simply raged through all of it.
(That’s really worth a watch).
Did you know Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, cornerstones of Thibs’ Bulls tenure, are both only 32 effin’ years old? Here’s a current photo:
The T-Wolves, like the Bulls before them, are exactly the sum of their parts. The thing is, it doesn’t always hurt them because they have some really friggin’ good parts. Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson. You’re going to see a lot of these men tonight.
EDITOR’S NOTE: You will not, however, see Jimmy Butler or Jamal Crawford, who were declared out at the last minute with nagging injuries. A break for the Raptors.
It’ll be a battle of franchise philosophies tonight in the Twin Cities.
Where to Watch
TSN, 9:00pm EST
Toronto - Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas
Minnesota - Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, Nemanja Bjelica, Taj Gibson, Karl-Anthony Towns
Toronto - None
Minnesota - Jimmy Butler (sore right knee), Jamal Crawford (toe sprain)