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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.