Pretty great 30 minutes or so of basketball last night, right? Unfortunately, as our Sean Woodley so aptly put it, the Toronto Raptors lost the plot about halfway through the third quarter last night, as their shaky D full on disappeared and the Utah Jazz started picking them apart. Without OG Anunoby, this is gonna be a looooong road trip.
1. Malachi’s extended run
If there was a bright spot in last night’s loss, it was that Malachi Flynn had his best game of the season. Flynn logged 22.5 minutes, including the entire second quarter, and was the only Raptor (along with Justin Champagnie, who played the final seven minutes) with a positive +/-. Flynn looked less tentative and more in control than he has at any point this season, showing some moderate aggression; he only hit one of his six three-point attempts, and had an airball in there, but just seeing him step up an take them was a positive trend.
Flynn’s extended PT meant that Fred VanVleet “only” played 34 minutes, his lowest minutes since the first game of the season, which is definitely a plus.
2. GM union?
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke this news on Twitter yesterday morning, and it made my skin crawl:
ESPN Sources with @RamonaShelburne: NBA general managers are working to finalize formation of a professional association that would collectively support executives with access to legal defense funds, lawyer referrals and PR professionals: https://t.co/yhaTzlo72G— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 18, 2021
First of all, a rather curious avoidance of the word “union,” wouldn’t you say? Second of all, in what universe does a group of men holding an extremely rare and coveted role, who are generally already quite wealthy and powerful even before acquiring said role, need a union?
Oh, right, the universe where those men might actually be held accountable for their actions:
Executives told ESPN that Portland’s internal probe has stoked fears that organizations can make decisions to fire GM's for any number of traditional reasons and search simultaneously for ways to pursue “cause” violations in contracts in attempt to avoid paying out money owed.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 18, 2021
Suddenly NBA owners have a contender for title of “Worst group of People in Basketball.” Good times!
3. An inspirational rant on inspiration
Sacramento’s Tristan Thompson got heated and raw when asked about whether or not NBA players need their coaches to inspire them in a game:
Tristan Thompson sounds off on the leadership on this Kings team and why inspiration shouldn't come from the head coach. pic.twitter.com/4u9dqpoQih— Matt George (@MattGeorgeSAC) November 18, 2021
Pretty good take! I generally agree that NBA basketball players shouldn’t need any extra motivation or inspiration; they get paid very well to work very hard ~80 nights a year. It shouldn’t be that hard! But, we must also remember that NBA players are still human beings and everyone has an off night or a down moment and it’s not a bad thing to lean on external source, whether it’s a coach or a teammate or even a fan or family member, for a little extra spark.
4. Scottie Barnes: “Interesting as hell”
That’s what The Athletic’s John Hollinger has to say about Scottie Barnes, and I think most Raptors fans would agree! Hollinger profiled Barnes’ role as a point-centre in his “early trends” column on Wednesday, and had this to say:
The list of people who can both a) play point guard and b) check the other team’s center is not a long one, but Barnes appears to be enough of a freaky hybrid to pull it off.
Indeed it is, especially when they’re just 15 games into their NBA career! Hollinger goes on to show Barnes banging with Jusef Nurkic in the paint, and getting the better of him, which again, is surprising and interesting and tantalizing, all at the same time. Hollinger also says...
The interesting part is that the Raptors are mauling teams on the offensive glass despite this “small” look, with Barnes pulling down 8.4 percent of missed shots at the offensive end. (Khem Birch, a real center who plays backup five, also has been a massive factor here.)
The Khem Birch bit stands out to me, since I slammed Hollinger in the preseason for slamming the Birch signing. Not looking like such a bad signing now, eh Johnny boy??
5. Raptors for Research
With the support of the Toronto Raptors, Toronto’s Sinai Health Foundation is holding a 3-on-3 basketball tournament fundraising event in March called Raptors for Research, and they’re looking for teams to sign up. Funds raised will support Sinai’s Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, which conducts research into diabetes, cancer and molecular biology (and yes, is supported by MLSE co-owner Larry Tannenbaum). The event itself will take place at Hoop Dome in Toronto’s Downsview Park, and the top teams will earn a chance to play at the Raptors’ OVO practice facility.
The catch? To participate teams must raise a minimum of $2,500, which is the the organization is putting the word out now! If you’re interested in playing some hoops and raising money for a good cause, you can learn more here.