Happy New Year, everybody! While Ontarians are all warm and cozy in our locked down abodes, it’s important to remember the things that bring us joy. Such as: Seeing current and former Toronto Raptors thrive and succeed! Doug Ford routinely getting dunked on on Twitter! And most of all the fact that #FredVanVleet is going to be an #NBAAllStar if we all pull our collective weight!
Let’s dive all the way in.
Fred VanVleet, All Star and more?
Fredderick Edmund VanVleet has been playing out of his gosh darn mind.
Remember when he went undrafted?
Now, an All-Star case isn’t built on a 5-game sample size, of course, but VanVleet’s numbers are up across the board all while leading the league in minutes. He has career highs in effective field goal percentage, points per game, assists per game and box plus minus. Speaking of which, Steady Freddy happens to be in some elite company across the league.
Would the Raptors have gone a perfect 4-0 had VanVleet played against the 76ers instead of the 3-1 they went on the week? Who can say, really?! The evidence above may suggest they could have!
Pascal Siakam, dominating
Now, if the All-Star selections were decided by a small batch of games, Pascal Siakam’s name would have to be right at the top of the list. Siakam has been an absolute monster on the glass as he’s averaged just shy of 13 rebounds a game in the four-game week – nearly five more than his season average and seven more than his career average. Having said all of that, Pascal is doing so much more than rebounding the ball.
Pascal Siakam over his last 4 games:— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) January 2, 2022
20 PTS - 14 REB - 7 AST
25 PTS - 19 REB - 7 AST
28 PTS - 6 REB - 8 AST
25 PTS - 6 REB - 2 AST pic.twitter.com/Ux2sQSGZ5E
When Pascal and Fred are rolling like this, the Raptors are very difficult to contain, especially now that they have, for the most part, a full compliment of players to run out on a nightly basis.
Nick Nurse, go get that bag
After watching Justin Champagnie pour in 14 points in 13-minutes against the San Antonio Spurs last night, it’s hard not to circle back to this Nick Nurse’s appearance on JJ Reddick’s podcast The Old Man & The Three.
Nick Nurse's coaching philosophy is pic.twitter.com/sJD1MvmP0c— TheOldMan&TheThree (@OldManAndThree) January 4, 2022
Nurse has consistently tapped into his coaching expertise and the expertise of his personnel to get the most out of his players. All credit due to Champagnie for putting those shots through the bottom of the bucket, but a huge assist to Nurse and the Raptors organization for knowing what they have and being able to maximize their talents.
Svi Mykhailiuk, tough break
There only one cold entry in the return of the Toronto Temperature and it’s a somber one, because, it’s hard to rag on a guy who just entered COVID protocols! With the emergence of Justin Champagnie, the return of Yuta Watanabe and Chris Boucher finally finding his game, there really doesn’t seem to be a place in the rotation for Svi Mykhailiuk any longer.
Billed as a 3-point marksman who could shoot well enough to keep himself in the game despite his defensive inefficiencies, Svi is shooting a career low 32% from three and hasn’t really found his footing in the Raptors scheme. While he has shown some chops handling the basketball, it’s really not enough to keep trotting him out for major minutes with the players in front of him.
Hopefully he can stay game ready for when the next round of protocols come knocking at the Raptors door. *knocks on a million planks of wood*