Categorically, it would be easy to slide this week into a “not hot” range. Despite the 1-2 record, that just doesn’t feel like the case though, does it? The Toronto Raptors managed to eke out a retribution win against the Wizards to start the week, lost a nail-biter that they lead for 47-minutes and 5 seconds against the much improved Cleveland Cavaliers and fell to the Brooklyn Nets in Pascal Siakam’s return.
Losing is never fun, but it can offer some silver linings — let’s investigate!
Returns, A Real Boost
It has been a very long time coming, but Pascal Siakam has finally returned. While he only missed a total of 10-games to start the season after offseason shoulder surgery, it feels safe to include the entirety of the lost Tampa season and the scattered Bubble season into the mix. With that, Siakam has finally returned home. Home to the city that has embraced him as one of their own, regardless of the loud clowns who don’t know any better.
Tonight a reminder of how good Pascal is?— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) November 8, 2021
FVV: “I think it’s just a reminder for the idiots on Twitter who have gotten to beat him up for the last two years.” pic.twitter.com/XcZN6Zvn7j
The long awaited — and faster than anticipated — return of Pascal Siakam was a true joy for Raptors fans that were already brimming with positive vibes thanks to the way the team has been outpacing expectations. Now, the road ahead seems even brighter as Toronto gets to add an All-NBA player to their long and exciting roster. What’s more is they also got to welcome back Scottie Barnes who missed two-games with a thumb sprain? The holiday season is truly upon us!
Fred VanVleet, A Real Leader
Fred VanVleet drops 33 PTS, 6 AST and 3 3PM to lead the @Raptors to their fifth-straight win!— NBA (@NBA) November 4, 2021
OG Anunoby: 21 PTS, 5 REB, 3 3PM
Svi Mykhailiuk: 15 PTS, 4 REB
Gary Trent Jr.: 15 PTS, 5 REB, 3 STL
Bradley Beal: 25 PTS, 7 REB, 7 AST pic.twitter.com/qFDFVDK9Qt
Lost in the hoopla of OG’s ascension, Scottie’s infectious energy, and Pascal’s return has been Steady Freddy himself. Continuing to be a menace on the defensive end, where he is 3rd in the league in deflections, VanVleet is starting to find his long-range game, which he struggled with to start the season. Fred is now shooting a higher percentage from three than last year all while boosting his assist and rebound numbers. Yes, his scoring numbers and FT% are down, but when you consider the added layer of stepping into Kyle Lowry’s massive shorts, I mean shoes, as the leader of the team, Fred’s doing an remarkable job. He’s also somehow doing that job while being like, 5”8’.
Will Lou being taller than your starting point guard lmaoooo pic.twitter.com/FIQO8Nl6mS— Esfandiar | Es (@JustEsBaraheni) November 9, 2021
Gary Trent Jr., A Real Steal
Please go and read new RaptorsHQ contributor Chelsea Leite’s piece on Gary Trent Jr.’s defensive glow-up. Because if Gary can keep this up, he will have a full-time spot on the Who’s Hot list. That’s a promise!
O menino Gary Trent Jr. rouba y rouba... pic.twitter.com/pQbJNFdbUU— Toronto Raptors Brasil (@TorontoRapsBR) November 9, 2021
Precious Achiuwa, By His Own Admission
It seems like there isn’t a lot that can prepare you for playing for Nick Nurse. Gary Trent Jr. came in thinking he was a top-level defensive player and looked horrendous on that end in his initial season with the Raptors after being dealt from Portland. Aron Baynes, well...that didn’t work out so well and let’s all agree to never mention his name again.
Precious Achiuwa came over after having carved out a nice little role for himself in Miami. Since landing in Toronto, Nurse has challenged him to be an almost completely different player, all in the name of growth.
Precious: “I know I haven’t been playing the way I’m supposed to, that’s no secret… Right now it’s kinda tough. I think I had 3 or 4 games where I wasn’t in rhythm, I didn’t feel the basketball or the flow of the game and it kinda took away from what I know I’m capable of doing” pic.twitter.com/QAmzscBpLE— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) November 9, 2021
Precious will get there, but yips are to be expected, especially now that the Raptors are rounding into full health which will, unfortunately, likely mean fewer opportunities on the court to figure it all out. But if Precious can get loose for some of these, it will certainly go a long way in helping him find his way.
THAT DUNK— CBC Sports (@cbcsports) November 4, 2021
Precious Achiuwa bringing it down with vigor pic.twitter.com/n5pfUiVdvg
The Refs™, Swallowed
OG: “Yeah, I don’t get any calls. Hopefully that changes because I’m driving and getting hit and the refs aren’t calling it.” pic.twitter.com/EmBGO353eV— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) November 6, 2021
First of all, it’s shocking that Anunoby didn’t get fined for this. Thankfully he’s still so low-key that the NBA completely missed his post-game presser, but come on, OG plays like a damn star-player for less than 10 games and is already whining to the refs about getting calls?
Just kidding! Blow the damn whistle, PLEASE! Raptors fans have been begging for a fair shake from the referees for what feels like forever and you’ve got to figure that the day will come around at some point, right? Perhaps more National media coverage of the eventual Rookie of the Year, Scottie Barnes will help some?