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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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When the Toronto Raptors traded guard Norman Powell at Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, it wasn’t without appreciation for all he has accomplished with the organization in his five seasons as a Raptor. It also wasn’t without consideration of what the team could gain with the arrival of guard Gary Trent Jr. and guard-forward Rodney Hood.

“We got two players, Rodney’s more proven and then Gary Trent Jr. is a 22-year-old player with lots of upside,” Raptors President Cheap Kyle Lowry Jersey Masai Ujiri said. “[Trent Jr. is] a shooter, a defender. I think [they] fit our core team, and that’s what we’re excited about. I think it works on both sides. Rodney’s a little bit of an experienced player and a veteran player and then [we also gain] Cheap Norman Powell Jersey a young player coming up in Gary Trent Jr.”

Hood, a native of Meridian, Mississippi, is in his seventh NBA season. The 6-foot-8 guard-forward was the 23rd overall pick by the Utah Jazz in the 2014 NBA Draft. His career has included stops in Utah, Cleveland and Portland prior to his arrival in Toronto. In 38 games for the Blazers this season, Hood is averaging 4.7 points, 1.9 rebounds, ½ assists and 19.1 minutes. He comes to Toronto with career Cheap Gary Trent Jr. Jersey averages of 11.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists in 26.5 minutes per game.

Via Portland Trail Blazers reporter Casey Holdahl, Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons spoke about losing two of his teammates in the trade, while also shedding some light on Hood’s personality as the locker room joker.

“Those were the two guys I was kind of closest with on the team, so it’s pretty tough, but it’s part of the business,” Simons said. “I’m gonna miss Rodney a lot because he’s one of the funniest, if not THE funniest [guy] on Cheap Rodney Hood Jersey the team. We’re gonna miss his presence around all of the time.”

Hood made his return to the court this year after suffering an achilles injury during the 2019-20 season. Though Hood and Trent Jr. will be in different uniforms, Simons made it clear he’ll still be keeping tabs on his former teammates.

“We wish them good luck,” Simons said. “Rodney coming back from his injury, I hope he gets the opportunity with the Raptors to be able to showcase himself again, get back to the old Rodney. I’m looking forward to seeing him play.”

While Hood provides the Raptors with veteran experience in exchange for Powell’s own, the arrival of Trent Jr. brings another young player with room to grow.

Trent Jr. was drafted by the Sacramento Kings with the 37th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, and traded to the Trail Blazers on draft night. The Columbus, Ohio native has spent all three of his seasons in Portland. With career averages of 10.2 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 23.1 minutes per game, this has been a career-best year for Trent Jr. who is averaging 15.0 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 30.8 minutes per game over 41 appearances for the Blazers this season. In addition to his Cheap Toronto Raptors Jerseys offensive skill set, Trent Jr. is already carving out a reputation as a terrific defender.

“We got a young player in Gary Trent Jr, who I think is promising and who has a really, really good upside,” Ujiri said.

Toronto’s team culture has been a large part of the team’s success in recent years. Though saying goodbye to Powell will certainly be felt, especially by the players in Toronto’s locker room who have spent much of their careers with him, Blazers big man Enes Kanter shared that Trent Jr. and Hood were similarly beloved in the Blazers locker room as well.

“People loved them so much,” Kanter said. “Every minute they were out there they were giving everything they could to help us win.”

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts provided a glimpse into what it was like to coach Trent Jr. and Hood, while also discussing why the Blazers felt Powell would be a good fit for their team. Like Ujiri, Stotts acknowledged that the trade deadline can be difficult when it involves players who have a history with an organization.

“Losing Rodney and Gary is tough,” Stotts said. “They’ve been with us for over two years, they’re good guys, good players, good teammates, and we’re going to miss having them around. When you go to the gym and you enjoy working with the people that you work with, it’s tough to lose those guys. As far as getting Norman, he’s a really good two-way player, and that’s what we need. Obviously his shooting numbers speak for themselves, but what he can do defensively on the perimeter is something that we really need and value. He’s going to have a major role with our team.”

While Ujiri discussed the difficulty in trading a player like Powell who has been with the team since he was drafted, he also expressed confidence in the core of the team as it stands today.

“We believe in Fred,” Ujiri said. We believe in OG. We believe in Pascal. We believe in [Chris] Boucher. We keep growing with our young players. We feel that as a core, that they can continue to grow and get better.”

In addition to speaking about the team’s younger players, Ujiri also emphasized the impact veteran point guard Kyle Lowry has on the team, as well as basketball in Canada as a whole. Ujiri also acknowledged the strangeness of this season, playing through a pandemic, health and safety protocols, and away from Toronto. His greatest wish, for us all, is for life to return to normal and for everyone to stay safe and healthy.

When it comes to basketball, whether it is being played in Toronto, Tampa Bay, a bubble, or somewhere else in between, the mindset remains the same.

“We believe any time we step on that court that we can win,” Ujiri said. “That’s just how we are and that’s how we play and that’s how we want to be.”

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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.