Well, after a heartbreaking game between the Raptors and Clippers on Wednesday in which Kawhi Leonard received his championship ring (hand delivered from Lowry), the Raptors were back in action on Saturday against Brooklyn. It was a game the Raptors needed to win in order to avoid losing their wheels on the slippery winter ice of December — and they avoided it, for now.
Marc Gasol is trending way up, and after I wrote about his elite peripheral stat-making, he logged a season high in both points and rebounds with 17 and 15 respectively. He’s worth a look if you’re light on centres right now. He hit a trio of threes and shot 6-of-11 overall to go with two blocks and a steal. Welcome back Marc!
But, the man of the hour, yet again, continues to be the play of Norman Powell. Listen — Norm had carried a reputation for most of his career as a player who forced inefficient shots, took ill advised, early shot clock threes and tried to do too much on the floor. Now, in something we can chalk up to maturity, he’s playing completely within himself and the results are astounding. He logged 64 points in three games this week as the de-facto starting two guard in place of Fred VanVleet and he’s been scoring on ridiculously efficient percentages for a shooting guard — posting 63.7 percent against the Clippers and 66.7 percent against the Nets.
He doesn’t add assists (not relative to his position) but he continues to provide steals and in the case of Saturday’s game, two blocks. I’m offering my stamp of approval: Norm Powell is roster-ready. Go get him.
On to the good stuff!
Line of the Week:
Pascal Siakam vs. Brooklyn
I Whiffed this pick. I chose Kyle Lowry (who didn’t have a bad game, but wasn’t as electric as Pascal) however it was Siakam who stole the show — along with Gasol — further proving Nick Nurse doesn’t have a game plan we simple fans can nail down. (It’d be a bad sign if we could, afterall.)
Pick of the Week:
OG Anunoby vs. Cleveland
Cleveland doesn’t have much in terms of resistance on the wing, employing Cedi Osman at the 3-spot. OG has the strength and speed to get to his places against Osman, who in his own right is a very good player, just not the caliber of our only son Anunoby.
With the resurgence of Marc Gasol, Tristan Thompson will have to respect Gasol’s range, opening up the paint for OG cuts and wide open lanes to the basket. I expect (read: hope) OG to have a big game. I’ve been off my game since my concussion! I need a winning pick here!
News Around the League:
Let me preface this by apologizing: Nemanja Bjelica was a dud last week. An absolute dud. After lighting the nets on fire, he posted a two point game. Nice job Joel. Real nice pick.
Let me offer another Euro forward: Davis Bertans. Bertans caught fire this past week garnering (facetiously so) comparisons to Steph Curry. But, in every joke lies a nugget of truth: Bertans is the best shooter in the league beyond 25 feet. In the past week, Bertans is averaging 20 points, 5.5 rebounds and four point five (4.5) threes per game. He’s available in 61.8 percent of ESPN leagues, and I advise you to pick him up in whatever format in which you play (Yahoo, CBS, ESPN, MSNBC — whatever!) Davis Bertans is this generation’s Peja Stojakovic.
In sadder news, Luka Doncic recently went down with an ankle sprain, and is likely to miss two weeks. While nobody — and I mean nobody — will replace Doncic, a guy you can take a look at is Alec Burks, a shooting guard on the Warriors. On the year, he’s averaging 15.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and just over a steal per game — with those numbers bumping over more recently. He’s owned in under 20 percent of leagues, so he’s probably available, and more than serviceable for depth purposes.
Oh, you need a big guy? Well then a big man you shall get! John Collins will be serving his suspension for a couple more weeks, and until then, Alex Len (!) has and will continue to have as much opportunity as his big heart desires. He was recently moved to the bench, and in that role he’s posting averages of 13 points, 6.1 rebounds on 65.6 percent from the field. There’s not much there in terms of blocks and steals (other than a few per week) but he fills a position in the meantime.
Or, you know, you could go get MARC GASOL!
See y’all next week.