And just like that, blissfully, it's over. Scrimmage season came to an end yesterday in a listless effort from the Raptors that saw them drop to 2-1 thanks to a loss to the not-very-good Phoenix Suns. While there were some bright spots from that game (hello Pascal) and from the scrimmages in general, the veneer of importance was completely worn away by the final game.
With that, it's time to get going with the games that matter! Toronto will have some time off until their first game on Saturday, when they'll be preparing for King James and potential Defensive Player of the Year, Anthony Davis. More important than those guys, Toronto fans will get to see Danny Green give out big hugs to his former teammates and let's be honest with ourselves here — we're here for any and all hugs at this point.
Now, it’s time to take the Temperature.
Pascal Siakam, No Rust
Remember when the hellscape of an echo chamber that is Twitter went off about Siakam not having played basketball during a global pandemic? Well, look at ya now, dummies!
Over three scrimmages, it was clear Siakam hadn’t quite missed a beat after his long break from NBA basketball. His arsenal of tricks, including shoulder fakes and spins, dribble drives moves, and a different mix of midrange shots, gradually looked as polished as ever. His jumper (and three-ball) found water too and his defense ramped up as the scrimmages went along.
Moreover, these were, say it with me now, scrimmage games. Outside of yesterday's Suns contest, the Raptors looked to be taking these games seriously and they can thank Siakam (and an ornery Kyle Lowry) for being the tone setters.
Norman Powell, Rust Eliminated
Hands up if you have had flashbacks to Bad Norm during the first two scrimmage games. If your hand is in the hair, shame on you! Even as a former disciple of the "You can't trust this guy unless it's against the Bucks" Movement, I will be the first to come to bat for Norm this season as he has time and time again, through multiple injuries, shown us that the new Norm is here to stay.
At this point, Powell’s role as the Raptors’ sixth man is undeniable. And when he’s playing as the off-ball scorer — a guy who can hit the three on the swing, catch defenses napping from the weakside, or power past people in transition — Norm has looked unstoppable.
OG Anunoby, Handles and D
According to his teammates and OG himself, Anunoby has been putting in considerable work during the pandemic break. While he was already an excellent cutter and more than serviceable spot-up shooter, OG has been making giant leaps in a facet of his game that was arguably his worst: his handle.
The handles... The ball movement... Poetry pic.twitter.com/0YF6ZKfz8p— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) July 26, 2020
This moment felt years away and yet, there it was, glorious in its splendour. Raptors fans have been waiting for OG to take the next offensive leap in his game and this development could be the catalyst.
He's also pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty great on the defensive end too.
Terence Davis and Chris Boucher on Social Media
Things are getting a little out of control in the NBA bubble. In stunning fashion, both Terence Davis and Chris Boucher produced some wild takes via their social media. First TDII dropped this gem
To spare you the click through, this account is wildly right wing and proudly anti-vaccine. And while Davis is certainly allowed his opinions, these particular opinions he's amplifying are, quite frankly, dangerous.
Likewise, Boucher got caught with his social pants down somehow believing this tasty treat.
Boucher's mind seems to be significantly blown by this cadaver shaped meat patty. So blown that he thought to amplify this baseless, fear mongering story that links back to an Indigenous rapper who holds some misogynistic ideals.
Couple those posts with the revelation that Michael Porter Jr. has never been vaccinated and therefore doesn't believe it to be necessary and Dwight Howard's hooligan-shoe takes of last week and the NBA is dealing with a serious issue of its starts using their platform to spread misinformation, hate and dangerous stances.
Audience Members, Zoom Nightmares
Speaking of things the NBA is going to need to figure out, this cannot be the best they can do.
the virtual fans are kinda freaky idk pic.twitter.com/rz3yoxWMXS— William Lou (@william_lou) July 28, 2020
While it's great that the NBA is taking steps to ensure that the experience of watching a game in the Bubble is as close to normal as we can get, at some point they've got to realize that it just isn't going to be.
Frankly, 150 fans with janky internet connections cannot be expected to replicate the feelings of 18,000 people in a packed stadium. It's time to just accept what we have here and be grateful that we even have that to begin with.