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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.

Davis didn’t take DeAndre Bembry Jersey advantage of the promotion

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Another boring shorthanded loss? Yep! With Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam out (along with Patrick McCaw and Malachi Flynn of course), the Toronto Raptors just don’t have enough good players to compete — even with mediocre teams like the Chicago Bulls. Hence, last night’s loss — Toronto’s fifth in a row.

There really isn’t much more to say Cheap Fred VanVleet Jersey at this point, other than to hope that those guys are healthy and able to come back soon.

1. Lineup Change
Last night, Nick Nurse switched up the Cheap OG Anunoby Jersey starting lineup, inserting Terence Davis for DeAndre Bembry.

Pre-game, I thought subbing in Davis was a good, but not great, move, to get more offense into the starting lineup. To be clear, I would rather Cheap Pascal Siakam Jersey not see Davis at all for off-the-court reasons, and on the court, well, he’s been generally awful. But since the team insists on keeping him around, starting him over Bembry or Stanley Johnson has some logic behind it, since Davis is — in theory! — more of an offensive Cheap Terence Davis Jersey threat. In addition, Bembry brings some level of playmaking to the second unit.

Unfortunately, Davis didn’t take advantage of the promotion last night, as Nurse brought Bembry off the bench less than three Cheap Chris Boucher Jersey minutes in. With six points and two assists combined between them, neither Davis nor Bembry did much in their new roles.

2. Bring Me Boucher
The real starting lineup change that Cheap Patrick McCaw Jersey needs to be made, of course, is subbing Chris Boucher in for Aron Baynes. In addition, I think the team needs to do a better job staggering Lowry, Powell and Boucher; two should be on the floor Cheap Stanley Johnson Jersey at all times. I recognize Boucher’s weaknesses from a rebounding and positioning standpoint, and I know he still picks up Cheap Paul Watson Jersey too many fouls. But his shooting and his ability to finish at the rim are much, much-needed right now.

And while I don’t mind the Baynes-Boucher pairing, I think playing Boucher at the four with Stanley Johnson at the small-ball five, a role Johnson Cheap Aron Baynes Jersey played fairly well at times earlier this season, might have some potential too.

(I can’t believe I’m even writing about this! Come back soon, OG and Pascal!)

3. Good D on LaVine, at Least
With Stanley Johnson, Paul Watson, and DeAndre’ Bembry taking turns, the Raptors did a pretty solid job containing Chicago’s All-Star, Zach LaVine. I was impressed Cheap DeAndre Bembry Jersey with Watson’s D on LaVine in particular — he guarded LaVine so tightly I thought for a minute the Raps had gone box-and-1! LaVine only scored seven points on six shots.

Although the Raptors collectively still aren’t playing great team defense, it’s been nice to see these guys continue to play solid man-to-man D.

4. Forcing It
The other night I called out one impressive sequence where the Raptors ran through a set, swung the ball around the perimeter Cheap Henry Ellenson Jersey and found the right shot with passing. And I recalled how little we’d seen such action this season.

This was surely on display last night, as the Raptors looked incredibly stagnant in their offense. Everything seemed forced, and when players did Cheap Malachi Flynn Jersey probe the defense, rarely did it seem the ball was kicked out to an open man.

It’s easy to keep saying, “yeah but they’re missing three guys” but the guys that are in there have to be able to manage the basics, right? You don’t need to be an All-Star to keep the ball moving!

5. At Least We Have Jack
These games are not fun to watch, but when Jack Armstrong is on, at least they’re entertaining to listen to! Jack was in his typical form last night, complaining about calls and no-calls, recalling the Niagara days, wondering aloud why the WNBA isn’t in Canada, using about listening to tunes while golfing, and of course, throwing out all the classics from GTGOH to “Bonjour!” It’s also highly entertaining to hear him try Toronto Raptors Jerseys and cover his disgust at some of the Raptors’ defensive effort and poor offensive execution.

I don’t know where we’d be without Jack.

********

There really isn’t much of a bright side here to share, so we’ll remain hopeful that these extra reps will do guys like Henry Ellenson and Paul Watson good, and cross our fingers that the team is healthy again soon.