As life without Chris Boucher continues for the 905, all eyes were on Jordan Loyd this week in the G League Winter Showcase. And Mr. Loyd did not disappoint.
The Winter Showcase is a “showcase” indeed, as Loyd displayed his complete game in front of scouts and various team representatives. He arguably had the best week of his career, scoring in a variety of ways en route to finishing second in points behind Christian Wood, while also playing excellent defense and topping the Showcase in steals.
Unfortunately, Loyd’s success did not necessarily translate to wins for the 905. Still, there are a lot of positive things to take in — and a few issues to address.
31.5 PPG, 51.4% FG% (9/17.5 FGM/A), 41.7% 3P% (5/12 3PM/A), 5 REB, 5.5 AST, 4.5 STL, 2 TO, +10 +/-
Let me start this section by saying I’ve seen Loyd play better halves or short stretches on the floor offensively. However, last week was the best week Loyd has looked at trying to balance being the floor general, shouldering the scoring load, while still maintaining a decent showing on defense.
Boucher’s absence created a big void on offense for the Raptors 905. Coach Jama Mahlalela had to scramble and find how to replace Boucher’s 30 points per game and efficiently distribute 20 shots per game. The most surprising part here was that Loyd’s field goal atempts did not see a significant uptick. Instead, Loyd fine-tuned his play, diversifying his attacks — his defenders had a hard time figuring out when and how Loyd would score. Unlike in some of his previous games where Loyd would get hot for a stretch, Loyd efficiently scattered at least 30 points throughout the game during the Winter Showcase. He’s not a one trick pony, and he’s been able to find a way to score as long as he’s on the court.
In the past week, it was possible to see Loyd go for a catch-and-shoot around the perimeter, or aggressively drive to the basket for a layup or a floater. After a dismal perimeter shooting (0-for-13!) against the Grand Rapids drive almost two weeks ago, Loyd seems to have forgotten about it entirely. He confidently pulled up for three-pointer even if there was a hand in his face. Loyd’s aggressiveness got him to the line repeatedly last week, where he went 21-for-22 during the Showcase.
Against the Texas Legends, Loyd’s fingerprints were all over the place. His overall play set the tone for the Raptors 905’s drubbing of the Legends. Loyd was aggressive in looking to score, while also setting his teammates up for easy baskets. On defense, Loyd was everywhere getting into passing lanes for steals or using his length and quickness to either deflect or poke the ball away from his man.
I almost wanted to skip this section as it feels sacrilegious for me to write something negative about how Loyd performed last week. However, there are a couple of things that I would like to bring up, as it’s starting to become a trend for him lately.
While it wasn’t the case against the Texas Legends, Loyd found himself in foul trouble against the Memphis Hustle. If we expand it to Loyd’s entire month of December, he either fouled out or was close to fouling out in four out of the month’s eight games. And while the box score might not show it, Loyd got into early foul trouble in some of those other games.
Whenever Loyd would get into foul trouble, at least one of the calls against him was a result of pushback on some of the aggressiveness that his defenders would throw at him. Sometimes Loyd would get called for an offensive foul, or it would be a frustration foul on the defensive end.
Loyd also likes to cheat a bit on defense. It’s one thing to anticipate, particularly when trying to jump passing lines, but sometimes that split second when Loyd would take his eyes off his man opened things up for backdoor cut.
Lastly, I wanted to mention this last week, but decided to wait until Loyd has logged more games as the main point guard: Loyd has tightened his handles and is turning the ball over at a significantly lower rate for the past five games. During this stretch, Loyd only logged eight turnovers, compared to his 12 turnovers during his first three games as the full-time starting point guard. Not bad!
It’s hard to believe, but just last summer Loyd looked shaky at best as a primary ball handler for the Toronto Raptors’ Vegas Summer League team. It hasn’t even been a month since Kay Felder was waived, paving the way for Loyd to get the keys to the 905 car. It’s been a few games as well since Chris Boucher played with Loyd. Change is the only thing that’s been constant with Loyd’s season with the 905, and it’s impressive how well he’s adapting and getting better in his new role.
Start of the Season at Shooting Guard
23.1 PPG, 54% FG% (8.3/15.4 FGM/A), 35.3% 3P% (2/5.7 3PM/A), 4.9 REB, 4.8 AST, 1.8 STL, 2.1 TO, +91 +/-
After Assuming the Starting Point Guard Spot
22.8 PPG, 46.8% FG% (7.4/15.8 FGM/A), 46% 3P% (3.4/7.4 3PM/A), 6 REB, 7 AST, 1.2 STL, 3 TO, +10 +/-
After Chris Boucher’s Call-Up
27.3 PPG, 43.1% FG% (8.3/19.3 FGM/A), 20% 3P% (1.7/8.3 3PM/A), 5.3 REB, 5 AST, 3.7 STL, 1.7 TO, +11 +/-