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Five thoughts on last night: Raptors 125, Wizards 107

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Everyone’s favourite punching bag was in town last night! The Toronto Raptors got in a light workout, easily beating the Washington Wizards into submission.

Five thoughts recap: Toronto Raptors 125, Washington Wizards 107, OG Anunoby Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Watching the Toronto Raptors defeat the Washington Wizards is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the Wizards are just a miserable team to watch; they play with no joy and there’s no joy in seeing them play.

On the other hand, they’ve been talking s--t for so damn long, it’s never a bad thing to see a bunch of would-be bullies get their butts handed to them.

On to the thoughts!

Kawhi Leonard, Freelance

I mentioned Kawhi Leonard and his undetermined role in the offense the other day, and it was more evident than ever last night. But it was also more than evident that it didn’t matter — when Kawhi is decisive with the ball, as he was last night, he’s so good that his freelancing on the edges of the offense is just as effective as any offensive set.

Last night, Leonard hit three of his first four shots, and although he still showed the occasional rust — a couple of off-balance three-pointers here, a rushed, short J there — for the most part, got what he wanted, and straight cooked anyone the Wizards threw at him. Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre Jr., Markieff Morris, Jeff Green... they all got a turn, and all got burnt. Even John Wall got roasted in transition, on the second of two coast-to-coast Leonard dunks.

At some point, I do want to see Leonard get his teammates involved a little more (he had two assists last night, both coming when the defense completely collapsed on him and he had no other choice) but if this is what the future has in store, the Raptors should be just fine.

Let us Marvel at the Beauty of This Possession

It’s not like Leonard can’t play within the basics of the offense, as was evidenced on this play in the third quarter. It starts with him coming around a Serge Ibaka screen, and then he and Ibaka essentially crashing into each other — something that hopefully won’t happen as these guys get more familiar with each other:

Five thoughts recap: Toronto Raptors 125, Washington Wizards 107, Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka

Leonard managed to keep control of the dribble, backed it out and reset. And this time, it was Kyle Lowry that came over to set a screen (a look that I dig and hope to see more of, again, as more familiarity sets in); both defenders drift to Kawhi so he kicks it back to out Lowry:

Five thoughts recap: Toronto Raptors 125, Washington Wizards 107, Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry

Lowry then swings it to Fred VanVleet, who whips it over to OG Anunoby for the open corner three! It’s a rare miss on the night for Anunoby, but, look who’s taking advantage of the fact that the Wizards are all out of position after all the ball movement: It’s Leonard, grabbing the offensive rebound.

Five thoughts recap: Toronto Raptors 125, Washington Wizards 107, Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet

Leonard quickly gets picked up by Beal, and calmly shrugs him off and lays it in for two put the Raptors up by 10.

Five thoughts recap: Toronto Raptors 125, Washington Wizards 107, Kawhi Leonard, Bradley Beal

Just a fantastic sequence all around, with all five Raptors involved in the play.

I’ll Take C.J. Miles as my 10th man

We all know C.J. Miles is struggling. I think we were all hopeful that his injury absence would settle down whatever the heck was affecting his shot and he’d come back looking like the old C.J.; alas, it was not to be. Miles started 1-for-7, before finally hitting a three that pushed the Raptors’ fourth-quarter lead to 16. He missed one more on his way out of the game to finish 2-for-9, and he’s shooting a dreadful 25.5% from 3-point range on the season.

That’s pretty bad!

Here’s the thing though. C.J. Miles, even a struggling C.J. Miles, is a better 10th man than Lorenzo Brown. Because what Miles is not, is hesitant. He’s aggressive. Usually he looks to jack it up straight away, and when he drives, he’s laser-focused on getting the ball to the rim. It doesn’t always work out in his favour, but what he doesn’t do is look indecisive, stand around and pound the ball, or make tentative passes to his teammates. Constant movement is critical to getting good shots, and Brown is just too indecisive and unsure of himself at this point in his career.

Hopefully he’ll get there, and watching Miles should help him.

Obviously I’d prefer it if Miles were hitting shots, but for now? Give me Miles over Brown any day.

So Like, Whatever Happened to John Wall, Man?

Like many Raptor fans, I never fully bought in to the John Wall hype; he put up good numbers, but something always seemed to be missing.

This year, a whole lot of things seem to be missing! I may not have thought he was quite all-NBA caliber, but he was still an excellent basketball player, capable of beating anyone on in transition, breaking defenders down off the dribble, and getting his shot whenever he wanted.

He looks like a shell of that now; his game seems to consist of mainly standing around, making a pass, standing some more, and if the ball comes back to him, shooting a three-pointer. He’s shooting a career-high 5.1 three-pointers per game, at 32.6%, his lowest rate in four seasons, and he’s averaging 8.1 assists which, while respectable, is his lowest number in six seasons. Perhaps most stunning of all, for a guy who used to be considered the fastest player in the league, his average speed of movement is rated at a 3.66, according to NBA.com, which makes him the second-slowest player in the NBA ahead of only Marc Gasol.

Part of me is not complaining, of course, because seeing the Wizards fail is one of the best parts of the NBA. But John Wall should be better than this, man.

About the New City Jerseys

The overall design of the Raptors’ OVO city jerseys is still pretty killer, but I have to say, the new white and gold just doesn’t hold a candle to the black and gold.

They’re not, like, bad or anything. But the black ones just looked so aerodynamic and slick, they made the players look like they were wearing superhero costumes.

Why yes, I do base all of my fashion hot takes on how much the clothes make the person wearing them look like a superhero. Why do you ask?

Anyway, I say bring back the black next year.

(The Welcome Toronto court is still [fire emoji x 100 emoji] though.)

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Got a it of a good news/bad news thing coming out of that one.

The bad news, is the Raptors still have to play two more games against this terrible Wizards team this season.

The good news? The Raptors have two more games against the Wizards, during which we can laugh at how terrible the Wizards are! Bring it on.