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Five Daily Thoughts: Nick Nurse squats and rookie rankings

Plus, why is Fred VanVleet's name so hard to pronounce?

Toronto Raptors v Golden State Warriors Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Finally, it’s game day! We’ll have our usual complete coverage as the Toronto Raptors stop in Memphis to take on the Grizzlies, but before that, we’ll start the day... with some thoughts!

1. Nick Nurse on squatting

Somehow I missed this story from Yaron Weitzman at Fox Sports a couple of weeks back, profiling Nick Nurse — with an emphasis on Nick’s unusual habit of squatting on the sidelines. It’s a fun read with some fantastic little tidbits — including Yaron actually charting Nick’s squats during a Raptors-Knicks game, and the unknown-to-me anecdote about Nick actually signing Dennis Rodman to a one-day contract to play for the Brighton Bears.

Yaron also recently appeared on our guy Sean Woodley’s podcast — catch up with that one here!

2. Unvaccinated? No Canada

Canada’s federal government announced last week that, as of January 15, it is ending the exemption that allowed unvaccinated professional and amateur athletes to enter Canada. That won’t be a problem for the Raptors themselves, as the organization is 100% vaccinated, but it may present a problem for other teams with unvaccinated players, such as the Denver Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr., who will not be able to play for the Nuggets when they visit Toronto in February.

Still, Porter is one of only a handful of NBA players still unvaccinated; 95% of players were vaccinated at last report. So it shouldn’t be a big problem, and if anyone does have a problem with it — boy, do we have an easy solution for you!

3. ESPN rookie rankings

ESPN’s draft guru Mike Schmidt has released his first set of rookie rankings, and not surprisingly, he has great things to say about Scottie Barnes. Although Evan Mobley tops the rankings, Barnes comes in at #2 on Schmidt’s list:

Barnes is the modern NBA player, being able to defend 1 through 5 seamlessly while functioning as a transition initiator, pick-and-roll ball handler or valuable screener at 6-foot-8 with arms that never end.

Much like Mobley, Barnes was viewed as a Swiss Army knife who could do nearly everything on the floor but wasn’t wired to score. Barnes’ defensive versatility, toughness, passing ability, scoring-averse style and shooting limitations are reasons why I compared him to a more explosive Draymond Green. But Barnes leads all rookies in scoring through 16 games thanks to a healthy dose of transition attacks, midrange jumpers and energy buckets.

Phew, I’m gonna need a minute to cool off here! Schmidt goes on to note that despite that rep for not being a scorer, Barnes’ transition game, willingness to let fly from the midrange, and solid free throw percentage are making him an offensive threat. And it’s only been 16 games!

4. My name is my name

The Athletic’s Eric Koreen has written a much-needed opus on the constant mispronunciation of Fred VanVleet’s name. It’s rampant! Also I don’t get it? It’s not hard, is it? Where does the “VanFleet” come from? I mean I guess if you’re saying it quickly, if you’re doing play-by-play or something, with the F in Fred and then the first V, maybe the second F comes more naturally... I don’t know.

Fred, as always, has a great perspective on it:

“...I feel like most people are pretty stupid, so it doesn’t bother me as much.”

I love Fred.

Perhaps more importantly, who’s got the better “my name” “prestige TV” moment? Marlo, in The Wire:

Or Walt, aka Heisenberg, in Breaking Bad:

This is a tough one but I’m giving it to Marlo. Something about the unrestrained rage in his voice — which barely even shows in his face — gives me goosebumps.

5. Paul George, almost the hero

Speaking of play-by-play, the joy and excitement from the Los Angeles Clippers broadcast crew when Paul George nailed this buzzer-beating, game-tying three-pointer against the Dallas Mavericks last night was pretty cool:

It’s the “hot damn” that really seals it though:

Unfortunately for the Clippers, the Mavericks held on for the 112-104 win, behind 26-9-9 from Luka Doncic.