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If there have been any positives to take away from the Toronto Raptors’ COVID-19 issues over the past few weeks, it’s been the team’s ability to really figure out what it has on the bench.

With Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Patrick McCaw, and Malachi Flynn all sidelines for over two weeks now, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse has been forced to dive deep into his rotation. For the most part, he’s uncovered Wholesale Toronto Raptors Jerseys a lot of duds and it wouldn’t be too surprising if some significant changes were made in the offseason to retool what appears to be Cheap DeMar DeRozan Jersey a lackluster Raptors bench. But there may be at least one hidden gem in there in the 26-year-old Paul Watson Jr.

Over the past five games, Watson has played 106 minutes, about 45% of his 237 total career minutes. It’s been the first extended look he’s had in the NBA and he’s done enough to impress Nurse. The most intriguing of his stats are his plus-minus. The Raptors have been outscored by 65 points over the Cheap Fred VanVleet Jersey past five losses and yet somehow Watson is plus-21 in his playing time, the highest of anyone on the team.

On Sunday against the Chicago Bulls, Watson played 27 minutes and was the only Raptors player in plus territory.

“It means he’s impacting the game pretty positively,” Nurse said. “We’re gonna need a little bit more shot-making probably out of him than he’s given us in the last few games. I think he’s doing everything else well, playing hard, defending, and rebounding, but when he gets those rhythm 3s he’s Cheap Norman Powell Jersey gonna have to step in and make a good share of them.”

Watson is just 4-for-16 on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers over the past five games. Not only is he missing some good shots, but he’s been a little hesitant to take his rhythm 3-pointers. It’s the kind of thing that comes with a major role change when suddenly you’re bumped from the back of the rotation to Cheap OG Anunoby Jersey the seventh man role seemingly overnight. Adjusting to that can be tough and takes confidence, Norman Powell said.

Back in 2015-16, Powell was in a spot not too dissimilar to Watson’s. He’d play a few minutes here and there Cheap Pascal Siakam Jersey and then he’d find himself stabled to the bench for days or weeks at a time. It wasn’t until late in the season that then-head coach Dwane Casey gave Powell a shot at significant minutes. His role back Cheap Patrick McCaw Jersey then was to come off the bench and provide defensive toughness and energy for 25-or-so minutes a night.

The first few games were rough, but Powell got some important advice from then-Raptors star DeMar DeRozan: stay aggressive.

Sometimes when you’re a back-of-the-bench player and you’re suddenly bumped into a much bigger role that advice can be tough to actualize. You’re trying so hard to do everything right that you start overthinking things  Cheap Malachi Flynn Jersey just to make sure you don’t make any mistakes. That, of course, is when the mistakes start happening, Powell said.

If you’re thinking on the court, you’re typically a half-second behind the play and that makes a huge difference, Powell said. That’s something he’s spoken to Watson about over the past year or so.

“He’s one of the guys that I talk to,” Powell said of Watson. “One thing I love about him is he’s always in the gym. He’s always working. He’s always very coachable and has an open ear to hear what I say.

“I’m always talking to him in the games to be aggressive. If you’re going to make a mistake, at least make it being aggressive and not thinking too much, letting the game come to you.”

Watson has shown he’s more than capable to come off the bench and provide some defensive intensity for stretches. He held his own Cheap Paul Watson Jr. Jersey against Zach Lavine on Sunday for a few possessions and he understands the defensive scheme well enough to stay consistent in rotations. The key for him, as Nurse said, is just playing in the flow on offence. The best shot in the Raptors’ offence is always the open shot and when Watson has it, Toronto needs him to take it.

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The other day I spoke to a Portland Trail Blazers reporter about the newest member of the Toronto Raptors, Gary Trent Jr.

It was a conversation that from a Raptors point of view didn’t go particularly well and left me perplexed as to why Toronto would move Norman Powell for a younger, currently less talented, potentially almost as expensive version of himself. If the Raptors front office did indeed have offers from 15 or so teams, it seems a little Custom Toronto Raptors Jerseys strange that Toronto would have Cheap Fred VanVleet Jersey chosen this package. That being said, Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster make up one of the best front offices in the NBA and of course, did what they felt was in the best interest of the franchise going forward.

What Ujiri said he saw in the deal was a 22-year-old with a lot of upside as a shooter, defender, and a player that fits well with the team’s Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby core. Trent is an above-average catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter and while he doesn’t create offence particularly well, he can be a floor spacer for Toronto going forward.

If anyone is going to get the Cheap Norman Powell Jersey most out of Trent over the next few seasons it’s Toronto. They’ve done it time and time again with players and it’s one of the things he said that made him so excited about joining the organization.

“The sky is the limit,” he said. “I’m gonna come in every day, work as hard as I can. And we’ve see the proof is in the pudding with Siakam, you see Fred’s success, you see Kyle’s success. You see all the players that came Cheap OG Anunoby Jersey here and when they left the success that they had while they were here, left and went on to have success with their respective teams.”

There may even be some untapped potential Trent said was masked by the incredible play of his former teammates Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

“Playing behind great talents in Dame and CJ, [there] could be certain stuff you can’t do or you’re limited in a sense because of the players that they are,” he said. “If you’re in that situation you’ve got to Cheap Pascal Siakam Jersey play off of them, make sure they’re comfortable.”

That’ll be the hope for Toronto. Trent has spent much of his career as an off-ball threat. Approximately 12% of his offensive possessions were coming off screens and 33% of his possessions were spot-up shots attempts in Portland, per NBA Stats, most of which came either in catch-and-shoot opportunities or after one or two quick dribbles. That’s most of what he did in his first game with the Raptors, but eventually, Toronto is going to need a little more from him. That’s what they had in Powell, a former second-round pick who eventually developed into a very talented pick-and-roll handler and Cheap Gary Trent Jr. Jersey someone who could create offence for himself.

At this point, Trent hasn’t shown an ability to do that regularly, and considering he’s just average at best on defence, Toronto is going to be relying on offensive development from their newest prospect. If he learns to create a little bit for himself offensively, the Raptors will have done it again, targeting a player with untapped upside and turning them into a valuable NBA contributor.

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Trade season has been difficult for Toronto Raptors fans
Frantically doing salary math in their heads and punching random 20-year-olds into the trade machine to see what Cheap Toronto Raptors Jerseys might come up.

This frenzy combined with the sudden nosedive of the Raptors win record means that every single player on the team’s roster is suddenly having to endure trade speculation.

“What would it take for the Raptors to trade Pascal Siakam?” “Who’s in the market for Norman Powell?” “Where will Kyle Lowry finish Cheap Kyle Lowry Jersey the year?” The sooner Masai Ujiri makes some boring, and probably genius, moves, the better. It’s been stressful for everybody.

Kudos to the fans for putting up with that.

The stretch of basketball has been crushing for the Toronto Raptors
Thursday night forced Raptors fans to endure a buzzer-beating game-winner by Tony Snell of the Hawks. After fighting tooth-and-nail against a more talented Atlanta team, the Raptors had to get their hearts broken in the most brutal fashion possible.

The whole basketball world knew what they were signing up for this season, but it’s easy to talk about weathering the storm when your franchise has more than two starters on the floor.

Whatever happens this season, the Raptors will have Cheap Norman Powell Jersey earned their summers the hard way. All the team can hope for is a speedy recovery.

Kudos to the fans for putting up with that.

The Toronto Raptors bench has not stepped up
In the five games since the team was crippled the bench has been solid on defense but the same can’t be said for the scoring.

Subtracting the production from Lowry, Powell, and Chris Boucher, the Raptors have been scoring an average of 42 points a game. That’s the entire team, besides those three.

That’s the recent Raptors in a nutshell. hey haven’t just been handicapped, they’ve been stripped of their big guns. They simply Cheap Pascal Siakam Jersey don’t have enough firepower to win games as it is. Lowry, Powell, and Boucher are just not going to score 70 points a night. They won’t.

Kudos to the fans for putting up with that.

Norman Powell and Kyle Lowry have been the saving grace
Over the past 10 games, Powell has been averaging 25 a night, shooting a ridiculous 53% from the field, 48% from three, and 92% from the line. In the past, a scoring night like that from Norm usually spelled victory for the Raps.

Last season the Raptors were 9-1 on nights where Norm scored 25 or more. This season, not so much. Since the team was hit with COVID, Powell has had to produce 25% of the team’s nightly scoring. I shudder to think what the team Cheap Chris Boucher Jersey would be on offense without him.

On top of stacking 35+ minute nights on his stubby 34-year-old legs, Lowry has been pulling out every trick he has to try and will this team to a win, but with no luck.

Part of why Raptors fans love Lowry so much is that he kills himself every night for his team and his city. He seems to care just a little bit more than everyone else. Toronto lovesthat about him. Even in the face of impossible odds, Lowry will continue to pound the ball, dive, sacrifice his body on charges, hit the deck on tough finishes, and on and on it goes.

When the Raptors mounted a 30-point comeback to beat the Mavericks last season, it was on the back of Lowry’s never say die attitude.

That’s why it’s been so painful to watch him these past few games. It’s hard to watch a player so good and so beloved take these kinds of hits over and over and over again, but this time to no avail.

Kudos to the Raptors fans (and Kyle Lowry) for putting up with that.

Raptors fans, you are the MVPs of this week. The only way is up from here. No matter what the rest of the season looks like the Raptors franchise can guarantee a more enjoyable experience than what March has turned out to be.

Kudos to you all.