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End of Bench Chronicles: In the house of mirth with Terence Davis

Three games. Two wins. And the Raptors’ end of bench players just keep on plugging away. Led by Terence Davis this week, it continues to be a joy to watch.

Orlando Magic v Toronto Raptors Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Is it still considered a surprise when the Raptors’ end of bench squadron continue to play well? What if it is just — with respect to Norman Powell, years ago among their number — the new norm? Can Toronto really continue to rely on this crew as the regular season, now 14 games in, stretches on before them?

The answer appears, increasingly, to be a resounding yes.

And folks, if we may drop the Socratic pretense for the moment, allow me to go one further. I never quite expected myself to say this about the Raptors, knowing a post-championship comedown was on the way, but here goes: watching the Raps so far this season whips ass.

There it is, the unvarnished truth. And a big reason for that — against literally every odd — is Toronto’s bench unit, a group of players distinguished only to this point by their utter lack of distinguishment. In that spirit, and before we get to this week’s round of inspiration, I must return to the rhetorical questions and ask: how sweet is that?

Impossible to say. Let’s get to the Chronicles.

Eighth Man Title Holder

Terence Davis

Trust Meter: 9 out of 10

Happenings: First, sure, we’ll note that the week started off slowly for Terence Davis with a humdrum 2-point/4-rebound/4-assist outing vs. Dallas (though, also, a 4-and-4? What?). Every bench player is going to have nights like that from time to time.

But then, the explosion: a 16-and-7 line against the hapless Hornets followed by a career best 19-8-5 against the Magic. In the past week, Davis took 7.7 shots per game, tied for fifth most on the team (with Chris Boucher) behind four of Toronto’s starters. But far from becoming some wild chucker desperate to make his presence felt on the court, Davis shot 56.5 percent from the field, including 53.8 from three. That he could shoot that well while also averaging 5.3 assists per game is, well... it’s amazing. This guy was undrafted coming into the 2019-20 season!

Roster Roll Call

Patrick McCaw

Trust Meter: N/A

Happenings: Nothing. Not even a bench fit to recommend.

Inspiration: I’m having trouble drumming something up here. We know what watching McCaw is like. Are... are you on the edge of your seat? Really?

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Trust Meter: 9 out of 10

Happenings: By the minutes count, Hollis-Jefferson is now the Raptors’ de facto sixth man, which makes the whole concept of this column absurd, I realize. But we’re sticking with it because, like Rondae, we’re dogged and we’re going to see this through. RHJ did his thing once again this week, posting modest seeming per game numbers (9.7 points and 5.7 rebounds) while seeming to get involved in just about every play he could.

By my measure, there is no finer summary of the Rondae Experience this week than his off-the-glass (on purpose???) lay-up that went right to Boucher for a dunk; and then, later, watching RHJ get his pocket picked from behind only so he could turn around steal the ball back for a breakaway dunk. The concept of defeat means nothing to this man!

Inspiration: I just started cackling at the scene from Made where Vince Vaughn’s character Ricky says “Listen to me, I intentionally make this gun look that way because I am smart.” I can’t find the clip on YouTube, but Vaughn’s line reading is hilarious.

Matt Thomas

Trust Meter: 4 out of 10

Happenings: Thomas no doubt piqued the interest of Dallas owner Mark Cuban after he shot 4-for-5, including 2-of-2 from three, while the Raptors hung on in defeat against the Mavericks. (I like to imagine Cuban in his luxury box going, “What, who is this white guy? I’ve never heard of him! Why didn’t we sign him???”) The rest of the week was pretty chill for Thomas, though. A relatively quiet night against the Hornets, and an invisible night against the Magic are all that followed. Still, Thomas shot 66.7 from three for the week. Stay ready.

Inspiration: That moment when you impress your friends and hit two tosses in a row with a crumpled up ball of paper into the wastepaper bin. Bottle that energy.

Stanley Johnson

Trust Meter: 1 out of 10

Happenings: Somewhere over this past week, Johnson came down with a case of soreness in the groin. How he did this is anyone’s guess given that he did not play at all this week. Look, it’s just been a tough go for Stanley, there’s no other way to say it.

Inspiration: Not Joey Graham.

Chris Boucher

Trust Meter: 8 out of 10

Happenings: Of all the Raptors’ bench players, the one most at-risk to believing his own hype has to be Boucher. I hesitate to bump him up to nine on the Trust Meter because, look out, he may try something truly unruly on the court. As it, Boucher managed back-to-back double-doubles this week — an 11-11 and a 14-11 — while also amassing a mind-boggling 13 offensive rebounds. To watch Boucher bounce off much bigger players (usually on the way to the floor), is to worry about him. But to see him celebrate another block, or an out-of-nowhere putback dunk — both of which happened multiple times this week — is to realize: he’ll be fine.

Inspiration: The energy in this Twitter thread, in which some joking comments from Toronto city councillor Gord Perks actually summon the target of his aminus — federal MP Adam Vaughan — is where Boucher should head with extreme self-awareness. Confidence is good! Too much confidence... is bad. Poor Vaughan is going to keep beating his “better things aren’t possible” drum, but we don’t have to necessarily join him. Keep that in mind Chris!

Malcolm Miller

Trust Meter: 1 out of 10

Happenings: Miller got some garbage time minutes this week, much like his end-of-bench compatriots mentioned below. Somehow that feels unsatisfying though, especially given the news that came with it. As Blake Murphy mentions there, Miller joins an elite(?) double-header club between the G League and the NBA, but he appears to still be finding his way. (Though, yes, he did drop five points on the Hornets on Monday — a season-high.)

Inspiration: Like much of Coldplay’s work, don’t ask, just go with it.

Dewan Hernandez

Trust Meter: 4 out of 10

Happenings: Here’s something of note!

Those are Dewan’s first — and only, so far — points in an actual NBA game that counts. Not a bad start to the ol’ career.

Inspiration: Baby Yoda. ‘Nuff said.

Did the Two-Wayers Play?

Both yes and no.

Shamorie Ponds remained with the 905 this past week, for all the good it did them. (They lost all three of their games.) Meanwhile, Oshae Brissett got the call-up to the big squad as OG Anunoby insurance. Like his fellow 905er Hernandez, Oshae put in the first NBA points of his career. For the Canadian though, it was a sweet three against the Magic.

I don’t know what this says about the Raptors at this point — it’s too early to tell! — but it definitely says something about Orlando, and Charlotte too.