We’ve officially reached the “let’s just wrap up these exhibition games before someone gets hurts” stage of the preseason, and with one game left to play, the Toronto Raptors (knock on wood) have remained fully healthy. Let’s just get out of this one safe and sound, right guys?
While this is Toronto’s fifth and final preseason game, their opponent tonight, the Washington Wizards, have only played two games — and still have one more to play tomorrow. Which mean their core players might still be getting some run while Toronto’s rest up.
Thus, tonight’s outcome might simply come down to the Wizards having greater, more experienced NBA talent available! Which is fine; after all, wins and losses aren’t really the point of the preseason.
So let’s see what there is to learn in this final preseason game, shall we?
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet 360, 7:00 p.m. EST
Toronto — Gary Trent Jr., Goran Dragic, Scottie Barnes, Svi Mykhailiuk, Precious Achiuwa
Washington — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Daniel Gafford, Kyle Kuzma, Bradley Beal, Spencer Dinwiddie
Toronto — Chris Boucher (dislocated finger — out); Pascal Siakam (shoulder surgery — out); OG Anunoby (rest — out), Fred VanVleet (rest — out)
Washington — Thomas Bryant (knee — out); Cassius Winston (hamstring — out); Rui Hachimura (personal — out)
Rest and revelations
As noted above, the Raptors are well into “rest some guys” mode, with Goran Dragic getting last night off, and Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby getting a rest break tonight.
We saw Sam Dekker and Isaac Bonga get extended minutes last night in the first half, and Justin Champagnie and David Johnson get the extended run in the second, as did Ish Wainright and Reggie Perry (VanVleet and Anunoby didn’t play after halftime). I’m sure we’ll see more of the same tonight.
Then there's the Freddie Gillespie question. New Freddie was the last man off the bench last night, in the deepest of garbage time minutes (the whole second half was garbage time), and there’s a chance Nick Nurse and co. have seen enough — Gillespie hasn’t progressed since last season, and might have actually regressed.
My guess for the final three roster cuts, then are Perry, Wainwright and Gillespie. I think Perry and Wainwright will stick around with the 905 but I fear Gillespie’s time in the organization might be at an end.
If we can set aside Bradley Beal’s (highly offensive!) stance on vaccines, the guy’s a certified Raptor killer, and without OG Anunoby around to hassle him, he might go off tonight — if he plays enough minutes.
I’m not sure what to make of this Wizards team. They did well enough adding Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell in return for Russell Westbrook, but I’m not sure if that actually makes them better? Spencer Dinwiddie is an addition I really do like, but coming off an ACL injury I’m not sure how much of an impact he can make. Davis Bertans still can’t defend.
Are they better than last season? They’re deeper, sure. But I’m not sure they’re better.
It’s safe to say that the Toronto crowd already loved local boy Dalano Banton, but after he drained a three from halfcourt to beat an expiring shot clock in the second quarter last night, and then followed that up with a breakaway dunk, he’s well on his way to becoming a legend.
Banks open on Thanksgiving, right? pic.twitter.com/2ifPPDhzhT— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 12, 2021
And the icing on the cake? Drake blowing him up on the broadcast...
"D-Boy, real trench baby" - Drake on Dalano Banton— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) October 12, 2021
... and giving him the sideline hug!
“this my baby” pic.twitter.com/37c3o9uLKv— Evy Kwong (@EVYSTADIUM) October 12, 2021
Legend status secured.
I’m still not 100 percent clear on what Banton’s role on this team will end up being. He’s long and athletic, and he shows solid court awareness. But I’m not sure his handle is tight enough, or his shot consistent enough, to allow him to play real guard minutes.
He’ll probably be the 11th or 12th man, meaning we won’t get too many opportunities to see those sort of highlight plays in the regular season. All of which is to say — enjoy the Banton minutes tonight!