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End of Bench Chronicles: Exploring the limits of the pine

The Raptors' bench unit continues to gain respect as it solidifies into its most common form. Still, nothing has been carved into the wood just yet.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Toronto Raptors John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Raptors went 2-1 this week and it’s obvious what the high and low points of that time were. They semi-casually beat the Suns; then they went out and destroyed the Pacers (and perhaps exorcised the Doug “McDemon” McDermott curse once and for all); and then they played the Bucks — which was fun for a half, and then not fun at all.

Through it all, the Raptors had to rely on their bench. Norman Powell and Marc Gasol are still out (though the former could be back soon), and Patrick McCaw spent the week on the shelf too. But when has any of that kind of news stopped the end of benchers before? Folks, it has not.

Let’s get to this week’s Chronicles.

Eighth Man Title Holder

Terence Davis

Trust Meter: 9 out of 10

Happenings: The man helped bury the Phoenix Suns, messed around in a huge blowout against the Pacers, and stood extremely tall against the league-leading Bucks — there’s not much more the Raptors could ask of Terence Davis is my point. Yes, some of his bench buddies also had their moments, but Davis is the player who consistently looks like most belongs in the rotation. And once Toronto’s core players return — including TD’s inspiration Norman Powell — it seems like it’ll be hard for coach Nick Nurse to keep Davis out of the lineup completely. The truth is: as this week’s player with the third highest scoring average, the Raptors need him.

Roster Roll Call

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Trust Meter: 9 out of 10

Happenings: He’s not quite producing the highlights like some of his compatriots — mostly because his game tends towards ugly — but Hollis-Jefferson is still doing his part. The Raptors have called on him to basically be their do-it-all member of the frontcourt on defense. He’s got to bang with the big boys down low, then sprint out and chase guards around the perimeter. And when Rondae’s not thinking about his lost wallet, he’s doing exactly that — and coming in second for the week in overall plus/minus, behind only Fred VanVleet

Inspiration: Antonio Salieri, as made famous by F. Murray Abraham in the film Amadeus.

Chris Boucher

Trust Meter: 8 out of 10

Happenings: Oh, you want happenings?

Inspiration: Over at The Ringer, Rob Mahoney had a fun idea to put together the Make-Shit-Happen All-Stars, which of course had a couple of Raptors on it (Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam). He laments that Chris Boucher didn’t quite make the cut:

If it was possible for outside forces to affect Boucher at all, this would be a strong place to start.

Patrick McCaw

Trust Meter: 5 out of 10

Happenings: This past week has been absent of any appearances from McCaw, which could be seen as a blessing in a couple of ways. For one, the Raptors were forced to try some different options at guard, which was fun; for two, we didn’t have to spend any time complaining online about McCaw, which, I must admit, has gotten to feel a bit tired. He’s dealing with the flu now, so let’s just leave him to that.

Inspiration: Medicare for all.

Matt Thomas

Trust Meter: 8 out of 10

Happenings: After shooting 66.7 percent from three for the week, the city is once again abuzz about Matt Thomas. The summary: Thomas shot 5-of-7 from deep vs. the Pacers, and followed it up with a 3-of-5 from three against the non-imploding Bucks. In that time, commentator Stan Van Gundy called him the best shooter in the world.

Meanwhile, Yahoo’s William Lou has the Matt Thomas story for the week:

Inspiration: The NetsJoe Harris is now a staple of the 3-Point Contest, and actually one the dang thing in 2019, but he was once a guy I saw in the media room before a Raptors vs. Cavaliers game just helping himself to some food. Thomas should absolutely get into the 3-Point Contest next season and own it, is my point.

Stanley Johnson

Trust Meter: 1 out of 10

Happenings: Stanley got to play almost ten minutes in a 46-point blowout, which is nice for him (he went 0-for-2, with four rebounds and two assists). And he also looks like he’s enjoying himself here.

Good for Stanley!

Inspiration: Not Joey Graham.

Malcolm Miller

Trust Meter: 1 out of 10

Happenings: Miller hit a three this past week which now marks something of an accomplishment for him. I wish this were not so. And also, I was legitimately stunned to learn he’s gone 0-for-13 from deep across three G League games this season.

Inspiration: Bullseye. No wait, Deadshot! Actually, how about Hawkeye? Yeah, let’s stick with Hawkeye — but the cool version who lazes around in Brooklyn solving local problems (not the MCU Jeremy Renner dude).

Dewan Hernandez

Trust Meter: 1 out of 10

Happenings: Not a thing.

Inspiration: Sticking with the comic theme here, I said a couple weeks ago that I wouldn’t resort to some sort of adamantium/vibranium joke for Hernandez, but, like, maybe I should? Dewan has now fully missed months of his young career with an ankle sprain. Could it possibly be that bad? Wolverine does not approve.

Did the Two-Wayers Play?

Thanks to that aforementioned destruction of the Pacers, the two-way players were bound to play this week for the Raptors. Let the record show that Oshae Brissett also appeared in the past week’s contest against the Suns — squeezing two rebounds in less than two minutes. That’s the hustle we all know and love.

And how was Paul Watson’s play? You tell me: