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End of Bench Chronicles: A 50-50 week provides no answers for the Raptors

The Raptors won one and lost one and are still searching for stability from the deep bench. As a result, we’re back with a bunch of new inspiring ideas to get the squad rolling.

Toronto Raptors beat the Detroit Pistons 1125-113 in NBA action Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

In what we’ll call a scheduling snafu, the Raptors only played two games over the past seven days. I like to imagine it’s a championship favour, but it’s most likely because of the team’s upcoming five-game west coast road swing. Nevertheless, the Raps got the Bucks on Saturday (a loss, despite a spirited comeback) and the Kings on Wednesday (a win, despite a spirited comeback). It’s that exact 50-50 feeling that just sort of hangs over the whole team right now.

On one side, the Raptors are rock solid. Through seven games and over 100 minutes together, their starting lineup is the best in the league by net rating. But on the flip side, their bench continues to need work. Every night it’s that flip of the coin — will Toronto’s starters be able to carry the day? Will the contributions from the bench extend beyond Serge Ibaka (and, OK, Norman Powell)? Will anything change for the better?

Up the coin goes. Now let’s see how the rest of the roster did.

Eighth Man Title Holder

Matt Thomas

Trust Meter: 7 out of 10

Happenings: Is this a surprise? With Patrick McCaw out, and Terence Davis in pumpkin mode (more on him in a bit), Thomas seized the day, averaging just shy of 10 minutes a game for the week. He got talked up on the air by the Bucks broadcasters (owing to his high school connection to Wisconsin), then came up big late against the Kings with a pair of 3s. (Yes, Thomas’ defense leaves something to be desired, but he’s trying.) And also, there’s this lovely stat for Thomas so far this season:

Roster Roll Call

Patrick McCaw

Trust Meter: N/A (but still high)

Happenings: Nothing doing. Poor McCaw is out until at least December after a benign growth was removed from his knee. No joke!

Inspiration: At least two Raptors have compared themselves to Wolverine — Terrence Ross, James Johnson — so let’s just go ahead and make it three. Get well soon, Pat!

Terence Davis

Trust Meter: 4 out of 10

Happenings: Davis was so hyperactive in his seven minutes against the Kings on Wednesday night, he managed to pick up six fouls in seven minutes and foul out. Oh wait, that last foul was rescinded and assigned to Norm. Well then, surely Davis learned his lesson and was productive for the rest of the game. Well, actually, uh, he was subbed out and never seen again. (He did, however, make a nice pass to Ibaka for the dunk, but that’s it.) I feel like Nick Nurse’s excited trust in Davis is... waning.

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Inspiration: Pre-midnight Cinderella. Just bottle that energy up and don’t even think about 12:01am. We’ve all been there!

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Trust Meter: 1 out of 10

Happenings: Not one single second spent on the court. I do not get it. He can’t play back-up power forward minutes right now?

Inspiration: The Tom Joad speech from Grapes of Wrath.

Stanley Johnson

Trust Meter: 1 out of 10

Happenings: Zero seconds! I’m not as mystified by this turn of events for poor Stanley Johnson.

Inspiration: Not Joey Graham.

Chris Boucher

Trust Meter: 5 out of 10

Happenings: In the spirit of that coin-flip 50-50 theme, I present to you two tweets that summarize the Boucher experience as it is right now. (And for the record, Boucher played a total of 9.5 minutes, put up zero shots — unlike him! — and amassed one rebound, one assists, and one block.) Now, the sentiment:

Inspiration: Two-Face had a pretty good run in the DC Universe didn’t he? He was a man of law and order turned tough no-nonsense villain by forces beyond his control. The key here for Boucher is to forget Aaron Eckhart and (especially) Tommy Lee Jones, and go straight to the animated source. That guy was cool.

Malcolm Miller

Trust Meter: 1 out of 10

Happenings: All smiles, nicest guy in the world, not one second on the court.

Inspiration: The Gary Jules “Mad World” cover, but just the version from this Gears of War commercial.

Dewan Hernandez

Trust Meter: 2 out of 10 (They trust him in the G League at least!)

Happenings: In Dewan’s big preseason debut with the 905 he went, let me see here... [checks paper]... 1-for-11.

Inspiration: I’ve spent a chunk of the past week reading the new memoir from Star Wars legend Anthony Daniels, a.k.a C-3PO — and it has put in an optimistic mood. The actor was essentially just starting his career as a theatre player when director George Lucas came calling. And though Daniels initially resisted the idea, he eventually decided to go along with being in Lucas’ weird space movie. Little did he know of course that he’d spend the next 40 years of his life tending to the legacy of a talking robot. It should’t have gone that way, it wasn’t supposed to go that way, no one would have predicted that it would go that way — yet it did indeed go that way.

Did the Two-Wayers Play?

Oshae Brissett and Shamorie Ponds are firmly ensconced with their 905 brethen now. In the team’s last preseason game vs. the Erie BayHawks, the former had 13 points, the latter had 12, and we are all better for knowing those facts.