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#TheOpenRun Presents The First Annual World Famous #DoWork Awards

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Welcome to the First Annual World Famous #DoWork Awards, presented by the Habitual Line Stepping Animal with the Verbs and Nouns, #TheOpenRun’s Will ‘Wall $t.’ Strickland, and the good folks at Press Basketball.com.

While there are standard awards doled out by the National Basketball Association, The Master of this Ceremony also created several unique categories to enhance the #DoWork Awards presentation.

That said, let’s get busy with the business at hand and #DoWork!

#TheOpenRun’s First Annual World Famous #DoWork Awards

SKI MASK ALL-STAR

Player with a huge contract who can’t help to get his squad to the playoffs and is practically stealing money from his team!

Candidates:
Joakim Noah/NYK: 4 years/$72M; 46 GP/5.0 PPG
Luol Deng/LAL: 4 years/$72M; 56 GP/7.6 PPG
Chandler Parsons/MEM: 4 years/$94M; 34 GP/6.2 PPG
Timofey Mozgov/LAL: 4 years/$64M; 54 GP/7.4 PPG

Winner: Chandler Parsons

With apologies to the Lakers Heist Duo of Deng and Mozgov or the Knickerbockers controlled substance-banned and oft-injured Joakim Noah, no one held a front office hostage with no ransom note as deftly as Parsons, now going into his third consecutive off season with knee surgery and rehab on a bed made of money he didn’t earn.

MEAL PLAN/BALL ON BUDGET ALL STAR

High visibility player plying his trade for a relatively paltry sum.

Candidates:
Kyle Lowry/TOR: 22.6 PPG/4.8 RPG/7.0 APG
Stephen Curry/GSW: 25.4 PPG/4.5 RPG/6.6 APG
Kemba Walker/CHA: 23.2 PPG/3.9 RPG/5.5 APG

Winner: Steph Curry

While it may be tough to say a guy making $12 million a year is underpaid, in today’s new NBA economic strata, it’s a value, especially for stars like Lowry, Walker and Curry.

This pick was kind of a no-brainer as the two-time MVP with the fourth-highest salary on his team will cash out something heavy in July, along with the other candidates in Walker and Lowry.

But will Lowry get it in Toronto?

APB (ALL POINTS BULLETIN)

An former All-Star level player who claimed he’d come back to terrorize the league only to go missing when it counted most.

Candidates:
There is but one.

Winner:
Derrick Rose/NYK: 64 GP; 18.0 PPG/3.8 RPG/4.4 APG
Be it the disturbing details of the gang rape case in which he was acquitted this past summer, the foolhardy pre-season proclamations of Knick superteam status or the idea that he was still a top flight point guard in this NBA, Mr. You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone, Derrick Martell Rose, was actually healthier than he’d been in past years until a torn meniscus felled him again (J-J-J-Jenga!) and he still couldn’t help his team make the playoffs… again.

THE LEAP (UPGRADE/MOST IMPROVED)

Candidates:
Nicola Jokic/DEN: 72 GP/16.9 PPG/9.7 RPG/7.9 APG
Dennis Schroder/ATL: 79 GP/17.9 PPG/3.1 RPG/6.3 APG
Giannis Antetokoumnpo/MIL: 80 GP/22.9 PPG/8.7 RPG/5.4 APG
Otto Porter/WAS: 79 GP/13.5 PPG/6.4 RPG/1.5 APG

Winner: Giannis Antetokoumnpo

The Greek Freak ended this season as the first player in league history to finish in the Top 20 of every major statistical category.

Points – 14th
Rebounds – 15th
Assists – 18th
Blocks – 5th
Steals – 9th

Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.

Oh, by the way, umm… he’s 22.

Beware.

“YOU GON’ GET THAT WORK” COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Candidates:
Khris Middleton/MIL: 29 GP/14.7/4.2 RPG/2.7 APG
Eric Gordon/HOU: 74 GP/16.3 PPG/2.7 RPG/2.5 APG

Winner: Khris Middleton

Forget about how many games Middleton played this year.

The man tore his hamstring completely off the bone playing pickup in the summer and came back… IN THE SAME DAMN SEASON!!!

This accomplishment may only be second in good griefdom to Paul Pierce not missing a game after being stabbed eleven times, showing up 37 days later to start all 82 games that season and drop 25.3 PPG.

Ok. Maybe it’s a distant second.

HUMAN INJURED RESERVE LIST ALL-STARS

Andrew Bogut/DAL-CLE
Jabari Parker/MIL
Chandler Parsons/MEM
Festus Ezeli/POR
Joakim Noah/NYK

Also known as the Andrew Bogut Memorial Award, it’s only fitting that he leads this team of players who rarely stay uninjured enough to actually play.

Anthony Davis, as great as you are, please don’t make this team.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Candidates:
Malcolm Brogdon/MIL: 74 GP/10.2 PPG/2.8 RPG/4.3 APG
Dario Saric/PHI: 81 GP/12.3 PPG/6.3 RPG/2.2 APG

Winner: Malcolm Brogdon

In a very down rookie class, the absolute, undisputed best third-year rookie in NBA history, Joel Embiid, put up monster numbers in a sample size of games before sustaining another career-stunting injury. The Colonel’s Son was so good during his time on the court that many may still vote for him here.

While there is no dispute that Saric dominated the second half of the season and showed a raw roundness of skill set that may end up forcing the Sixers hands in a couple seasons with the wealth of talent they are currently gathering, Brogdon was the model of steadiness and consistency in a season where he helped his team make the playoffs.

His defensive pedigree from the University of Virginia seemed to carry over into the league and having Jason Kidd, one of the smartest players in the NBA history, coaching and mentoring the mature rook will bode well for his future success in Milwaukee.

ALL ROOKIE TEAM

Dario Saric/PHI: 81 GP/12.3 PPG/6.3 RPG/2.2 APG
Malcolm Brogdon/MIL: 74 GP/10.2 PPG/2.8 RPG/4.3 APG
Jamal Murray/DEN: 81 GP/9.7 PPG/2.6 RPG/2.0 APG
Marquese Chriss/PHO: 82 GP/9.2 PPG/4.2 RPG/0.7 APG
Joel Embiid/PHI: 31 GP/20.2 PPG/7.8 RPG/2.1 APG

You’ve gotten the goods on the ROY candidates here already, but in Chriss and Murray, potential/fringe All-Stardom and increased leadership roles await as they are valued assets on the young rosters in the Valley of the Sun and the Rockies, respectively.

EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR

Candidates:
Bob Myers/GSW
Daryl Morey/HOU
Masai Ujiri/TOR
Danny Ainge/BOS

Winner: Bob Myers

He got Kevin Durant to sign.

Do you need more?

April 1963: Red Auerbach, coach of the Boston Celtics smokes his cigar from the bench as the Celtics win a game.
Photo: © Rich Clarkson / Rich Clarkson & Assoc.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Candidates:
Brad Stevens/BOS: 53-29
Gregg Popovich/SAS: 61-21
Steve Kerr/GSW: 67-15
Mike D’Antoni/HOU: 55-27
Erik Spoelstra/MIA: 41-41

Winner: Erik Spoelstra

While it is wholly plausible that D’Antoni will get the nod here, easy bake picks of Kerr and Pop would be less an acknowledgement of their acumen and more an accolade eventually serving as a paperweight on a desk somewhere.

Boston’s Brad Stevens seems like he will be a perennial entrant on this list, but Erik Spoelstra has done the most with the least and should gather this prize.

Some might suggest he had it easy for years coaching LeBron, Wade and Bosh. But with The Big Three gone and a squad that was 11-30 in the first half of the season, that the Heat didn’t start making post-season travel plans before the All-Star break and eventually bought into what The Spo was cooking is a testament to the man’s bench bawsing abilities.

Taking a team full of no-name D-League All-Stars and journeymen to the cusp of a playoff berth that went down to the last day of the regular season after that start is nothing short of amazing.

A couple years ago, Miami’s starting centre was unemployed and shooting free throws in a downtown Charlotte Y, the well-travelled James Johnson somehow threatened to be a real 6th Man of the Year finalist this year and their ‘leader’ is Dion Waiters.

That is not a typo.

That’s what Erik Spoelstra has done on South Beach this season.

Salute.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Candidates:
Kawhi Leonard/SAS
Draymond Green/GSW
Rudy Gobert/UTA

Raw numbers lack the depth to tell the tale of each man’s influence on their respective teams and the games themselves.

As Leonard’s responsibilities changed once more offensive focus was put on his plate, it didn’t diminish his impact as the premier two-way player in the game today. The Stifle Tower of Salt Lake City also performed superlatively, improving his game and importance on both ends of the court.

But it would be a flagrant denial to ignore the yeoman’s work that one of the NBA’s most important glue guys does for the best team in the league on the defensive end without kicking players in their nether regions.

Congratulations, Draymond.

6TH MAN OF THE YEAR

Candidates:
Lou Williams/LAL-HOU: 80 GP/ 17.7 PPG/2.5 RPG/2.9 APG
Eric Gordon/HOU: 74 GP/16.3 PPG/2.7 RPG/2.5 APG
Andre Iguodala/GSW: 76 GP/7.6 PPG/4.0 RPG/3.4 APG
Jamal Crawford/LAC: 81 GP/12.3 PPG/1.6 RPG/2.6 APG

Winner: Eric Gordon

It almost feels like one day Crawford, he, himself a three-time winner of this award, will replace John Havlicek as the model for the trophy. Iguodala has had a surprisingly solid season off the pine, solidifying a once-questioned second unit. And while Williams’ numbers are a bit gaudier than his teammates, Eric Gordon is finally healthy again.

He’s also happy and possessing the ultimate neon green light from Mike D’Antoni to launch from wherever he pleases, whenever he pleases coming off the bench.

The Rocket has landed in the right place to nab this honour.

ALL NBA FIRST TEAM

Russell Westbrook/OKC
James Harden/HOU
Kawhi Leonard/SAS
LeBron James/CLE
Rudy Gobert/UTA

Questions?

Credit: Courtesy of the Westbrook Family

MVP

Candidates:
LeBron Raymone James/CLE: 74 GP/26.4 PPG/8.6 RPG/8.7 APG
James Edward Harden, Jr./HOU: 80 GP/29.1 PPG/8.0 RPG/11.2 APG
Russell Westbrook/OKC: 80 GP/31.6 PPG/10.7 RPG/ 10.4 APG
Kawhi Anthony Leonard/SAS: 73 GP/25.7 PPG/5.8 RPG/3.5 APG

Winner: Russell Westbrook

It’s easy for people, fans or otherwise, to blame voter fatigue on why LeBron isn’t the Most Valuable Player not only this season, but in the league virtually for the past ten years, despite his sustained greatness, six consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and threatening seven straight.

Kawhi was more than deserving, earning his role as the lead actor in South Texas, improving in all areas of the game and becoming a bonafide star in 2017 A.D. (After Duncan).

The Beard’s magnificent 2016-2017 will be recorded as historic in many ways, including being the hard knock life runner-up for the second season in a row.

Alas, this season’s most coveted individual prize will rest on the plains of the Sooner State for the first time since 2014 as Broadie’s video game math doesn’t lie.

33-9 in the games where Westbrook amassed a triple double indicates in no uncertain fashion that this kind of production was necessary and far from a hindrance to the growth of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In a record breaking season, it seems only apropos to have the ultimate record breaker take home the hardware.

The first round Western Conference duel between Westbrook and Harden looks to be one for the ages.

I can’t wait.

Hopefully, neither can you!

Salute to Russell Westbrook, 2016-2017 NBA MVP.

If you want to dispute or agree with the selections, call Will a bad name or offer him exclusive oceanfront property in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, he can be found on Twitter: @wallstrizzle1.

Thank you for being a part of the #TheOpenRun Experience during the First Annual World Famous #DoWork Awards, brought to you by Press Basketball.com!

Will, the former Division-1 student athlete and professional b-baller internationally, is a longtime sports multimedia broadcast content creator & personality from that sleepy burg of New York City. His guest/co-hosting appearances and contributions to such networks as HBO, CNN, ESPN, NBA TV Canada, Sirius/XM, The Score/SportsNet, TSN and more will pale in comparison to what he does here at PressBasketball.com.

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Lonzo Ball: The New Face of the Lakers

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Lonzo Ball is the new face of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. The new savior. The Big Baller Brand is now here to stay and LaVar Ball’s family’s future is set. But is that enough?

Lonzo Ball is a great kid and athlete who knows his talent will take him to another level. The major question mark that remains is whether or not he will take the Lakers there as well. He has the platform and skillset to do so, but with that comes the added pressure from the city and league to basically become part of the next version of Kobe and Shaq. It’s too strainful for a young kid—a rookie—to achieve.  

Magic Johnson, the recently named President of Basketball of Operations for the Lakers, is taking an aggressive approach to get this team back into playoff contention his first year in. One of his first moves was sending D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and the 27th overall pick. Brook Lopez is definitely an upgrade at center, but has a couple of years already under his belt.   

Lopez will provide a much needed veteran presence with a great IQ for the game at his position. The only downfall is that a couple of years under his belt doesn’t really transfer to great experience, but simply wasted miles on his body. He isn’t as quick as he used to be and doesn’t even rank in the top 10 centers in the league. In fact, Bleacher Report had him last season at exactly 15 out of the top 30 centers in the NBA. While he is has improved by adding the three-point range to his arsenal, there is no doubt that he is nearly past his prime, and although he can still contribute on a nightly basis, who knows how much and what effect it will have with Lonzo Ball running the point.  

Ball has great court vision that has been often compared to that of LeBron James. Combined with his passing skills, he is a true PG with tremendous upside in the backcourt. With that being said, he will only reach a certain extent. His full potential is years from being maximized and people are buying into it early on. In fact, the pressure for him to lift a sub .500 team to the playoffs for the first time in five years is daunting. 

These are Lonzo Ball’s stats during his rookie—and only—year at UCLA: 

  • 14.6 Points
  • 7.6 Assists
  • 6.0  Rebounds
  • 1.8 Steals
  • 0.8 Blocks
  • 55.1 FG%
  • 41.2 3P%

He did a tremendous job maintaining that statline and even added a triple-double in the NBA Summer League, earning him the Summer League MVP.  

Don’t get me wrong, Ball seems ready for the challenge and is definitely a one-of-a-kind talent mirroring that of Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, but he is not an All-Star or MVP—at least, not yet. These way-too-early predictions that he is the Lakers’ new savior are farfetched. He has yet to face the elite NBA offensive threats and superstars that have been at it for 10-plus years. Defensively speaking he will not be able to keep up. Not in his first year. He still needs NBA experience and a more rounded roster to be able to reach the playoffs.  

He is off to a good start, but being named NBA Summer League MVP doesn’t necessarily mean a spectacular season is coming as some think it does. Especially if you consider the previous Summer League MVP winners.

Year Nat. Player Pos. Team
2012 Damian Lillard (co-MVPs) PG Portland Trail Blazers
Josh Selby (co-MVPs) PG Memphis Grizzlies
2013 Jonas Valančiūnas C Toronto Raptors
2014 Glen Rice Jr. SG Washington Wizards
2015 Kyle Anderson SF San Antonio Spurs
2016 Tyus Jones PG Minnesota Timberwolves
2017 Lonzo Ball PG Los Angeles Lakers

With the exceptions of Damian Lillard in 2012 and Jonas Valanciunas in 2013, the past five Summer League MVP winners have gone on to produce very mediocre NBA careers. All I’m saying is, don’t read too much into NBA Summer League. It’s the pre-preseason that no one really watches or cares about.  

The NBA season is nearing—exactly a month away—and my somewhat harsh criticism of Lonzo Ball isn’t too cruel. I am just not ready to jump on the Ball bandwagon following LaVar’s prophecies of his son being the Lakers prodigal son. He won’t be. Again, at least not yet. He needs to earn his spot and the transition will surprise him his first year in. It will hit him hard, but, despite my concerns, eventually Lonzo Ball will become a future NBA All-Star and a daring NBA point guard.  

Not yet though, and until then all we can do is prepare for his official NBA debut. Until then, we can enjoy and bask in his newly released rap single paying tribute to his little brother LaMelo Ball.  

If the NBA doesn’t end up being his calling in life, at least he has a back up career in mind.

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MELO-dy Cool

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Carmelo Anthony has been traded away from the New York Knickerbockers to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

You probably knew this before you laid eyes on these words.

It honestly doesn’t matter much who the Thunder traded away for “Melo” and who the Knicks received, because they weren’t anywhere near Melo’s overall value. But, it matters that Melo himself is gone and away from New York City, and for all his accolades, he honestly had a major part to play in his exodus.

Melo altogether is a player that both outplayed and underplayed his own potential. No one that saw him at Oak Hill Academy as a high schooler could for-sure say that he’d be a superstar, and everyone that saw him at Syracuse University might say he was a can’t-miss by then.

And he didn’t miss on most of what he’s teased, he’s delivered in a lot of ways; but, the reason why he didn’t work out in New York was because he was selfish to a fault in the key places that required compromise.

Do you remember how he got to Kings County in the first place? He forced a trade to the Knicks from his then-Denver Nuggets, a team that was teasing with talent abundant, but not unlike today, stuck in the mighty Western Conference. With title contenders like the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers at that time of the NBA, the 2010–2011 season, the Nuggets just weren’t going to make the noise they wanted to make. Melo was a free agent-to-be at the completion of that season, and it was likely that he’d leave. His time with the Nuggets, a very successful time, had run its course. The change was coming, and he was catalyst to the change he wanted to see in his world. Nothing wrong with that.

The problem was that Melo didn’t want to wait for New York. He wanted New York then and there, and it didn’t matter how it was going to happen.

It didn’t matter that the Knicks weren’t in a position to compete for a title during that season, something he long wanted to bring to New York upon his eventual arrival.

It didn’t matter that the Knicks would have to gut their team’s best assets in a trade for the Brooklyn-born, Baltimore-raised native. It didn’t matter that if he waited until the season was over, he could be playing with a young and promising Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov (a revelation upon his arrival to the States from Russia), amongst others.

It didn’t matter that the Knicks would have to sacrifice draft picks for him, instead of keeping them upon signing later.

It didn’t matter to Melo.

And so, when he arrived in New York, in early 2011, he received the adulation and praise of a prodigal son. Sure, the team lost some valuable talent and depth, but surely Melo would will the Knicks into wild success — just like he did in Denver, right?

And sure enough, after he rebuked the Linsanity of 2012 when Jeremy Lin became an overnight NBA superstar and balked at the prospect of Lin’s resigning, he gained some success.

The 2012–2013 season saw Melo as the closest thing to being an MVP candidate that anyone had ever seen from him as a professional in an 82-game season, but not before being totally indifferent to former head coach Mike D’Antoni’s wishes for him to play more at power forward to stretch the offensive side of the ball for the Knicks and the defenses of the opposing league teams. D’Antoni quit before the end of the 2011–2012 season, because of Melo’s loathsome resistance to D’Antoni and the coach’s embrace of Lin.

A big aspect of Melo’s failure to bring glory to Manhattan was his resistance to doing what has made him a legend in USA Basketball. Having won multiple gold medals as a stretch-four shooter, that he refused to embrace that positioning as an NBA pro limited the ability of his teams to win.

As a four, Melo, who had gained grown-man weight from natural maturity and strength and conditioning, didn’t have to be the cavity in his team’s defense as he struggled as a man-to-man defender. Moving from his formerly-natural small forward slot could allow him to defend more ably and allow someone more fleet of foot to stop the dominant wings that Melo often matched up against. Becoming something different and better in a new place would’ve allowed him the opportunity to be greater than anyone had known him to be in an NBA uniform.

But, he refused and rebuked such a change.

And one last thing: Injuries and front office politics aside, Melo was loyal to the Knicks organization through and through. But, he had a choice to go.

So, to recap, Melo forced a trade to New York that gutted the talent of the roster, and then he refused to change to a position that would behoove him and the team in the journey to championship gain.

Well, he also had a chance to leave for greener pastures and become a Chicago Bull, where he could experience more success with a front office committed to his development and surrounding talent. He didn’t want to do that, and that’s fair. New York was home, but if he was going to win in New York, seeing as to how being the way that he’d always been wasn’t helping — that is shoot-first, ask questions and defend later — why return to The Big Apple if you aren’t going to change?

He saw what being a score-only wing was giving his teams — it gave his teams very little success for the vast majority of 14 years. Sure, his Nuggets and Knicks made the playoffs (not so much New York) much of the time, but he said he wasn’t playing for that.

In the end, Melo and the Knicks not working out could be seen before he even became a Knick, when Melo stomped his way out of Denver to play immediately for New York when it would’ve behooved him to stay put for two more months.

Championship or bust, they say.

He couldn’t really compromise too well for the chip, it appears.

In the end, Carmelo Anthony — despite years of league-leading jersey sales, runway appearances, and bright lights on the New York City streets with LaLa — was a big, fat, shining, New York bust.

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Reloaded Raptors Banking on Young Guns

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Masai Ujiri is a smart guy.

No matter which conference your team is in, you’re either stuck with the issue of figuring out how to combat/wait out the Warriors, or you’re stuck with the issue of figuring out how to combat/wait out LeBron James. For Ujiri’s Raptors, the latter is the elephant in the room. So when the offseason came, the club had some decisions to make that would indicate the direction of the franchise’s future, both immediate and long-term.

Ujiri and Toronto GM Bobby Webster were somehow able to re-sign Kyle Lowry for a three-year deal instead of the five years that Lowry desired, and then managed the same with Serge Ibaka. This effectively put the Raptors on a three-year timeline until the next big shift in the franchise. For these upcoming three years, the Raps will stay competitive with their tried-and-tested core, and they will simultaneously cultivate young talent around their stars.

It’s a great formula. LeBron is going to be 33 years old this December, and by the time Lowry and Ibaka’s contracts are up, he will be entering the twilight stage of his career. Suddenly, the East could be wide open again. Ujiri knows it, and he wants to be ready for it.

But what about the present? The Raptors lost a couple of their veteran role players this summer in the re-signing of their core, including Patrick Patterson (an advanced analytics darling), and P.J. Tucker (a terrific perimeter defender). The team also traded away DeMarre Carroll—who was never able to return to his Atlanta peak—to Brooklyn in order to shed his contract, as well as Cory Joseph to Indiana, who snagged them sharpshooter C.J. Miles—swiftly signed to a three-year deal, no less—as a return.

These changes have left the Raps with a squad that, outside of the starting lineup, is quite young. None of their bench players have played more than three seasons in the NBA, and their total average age is about 23 years old. A number of them have yet to see significant minutes, with Norman Powell, Delon Wright, Pascal Siakam, and newcomer K.J. McDaniels being the exceptions.

The regular season is a marathon, not a sprint, and the keys to racking up wins in order to put yourself in a good position come playoff time are chemistry and consistency à la the Spurs. If the Raptors are to continue their regular season success of the last few years, then they’ll need their young guns to step into formerly veteran roles and rise to the challenge.

Thankfully, a few of them already seem prepared to break out and have impactful seasons. Both Powell and Wright gave the team some fantastic minutes last year, especially in the playoffs. Norm in particular was a standout, putting the league on notice with his athleticism and tough defensive play. He was part of the best lineup the Raptors had in the postseason (a +5.3), and the team’s offensive rating shot up from 101.7 to 107.9 when he was on the floor compared to when he wasn’t.

In the first round against the Bucks, Powell went for 55/91/92 per cent shooting, averaging 12.4 points per game and torching his opponents. He was a key cog in helping the Raptors win that series and fully earned Dwane Casey’s trust, which is not an easy thing to do for a young player.

Wright didn’t get quite as much time to shine with CoJo being the primary backup point guard, but when he was on the floor he scrapped defensively and showed in flashes that he was able to run the team. His length and effort have been the two most noticeable qualities when watching him so far, and his nose-to-the-grindstone mentality is one that Casey must love.

Siakam is another high-energy guy, and good for a few minutes a game, although playing him for a substantial amount of time isn’t a great idea since he’s undersized and a below-average rebounder. Jakob Poeltl should get more run, and like Wright—though less frequently—he showed instances of strong play, both on the boards and around the basket.

Perhaps the two most interesting youngsters are the newcomers: Raptors 2017 draft pick OG Anunoby and K.J. McDaniels. Anunoby has been touted as an excellent defender, a grinder, and he already has an NBA body that should allow him to guard multiple positions on the floor. Unfortunately, he’s recovering from an ACL tear and therefore it’s possible he doesn’t even play this season. Still, this is the kind of player you get excited for as a fan and as a coach—he’ll likely be impactful right away, at least in one aspect.

As for McDaniels, he’s spent time bouncing around the league during his three seasons. He’s already played for Philadelphia, Houston, and Brooklyn, and has never had a chance to get comfortable. He’s another player with defensive potential—he’s got some pretty sweet block highlights—but has yet to find any sort of consistent shooting. If he can’t show Toronto something this season, he may be on the move again.

And finally, as we ask every year, is this the season when Bruno Caboclo breaks loose and starts going Brazilian Kevin Durant on the rest of the league? My answer: Unlikely. It may be hard to believe, but Bruno is still one of the youngest guys on the team at 21 years old. His time in the D-League—now the G League—can only be good for him, but his scoring dropped off significantly last season compared to the year prior, when he was putting up double-figure numbers almost every game. There’s still a lot of time left for Bruno to prove himself, and as such it’s tough to imagine that time being this season.

It’s difficult—though intriguing—trying to judge a group of players who don’t have an extensive NBA resume as of yet (I feel for you, Philly fans). Even if one has seen a player be productive in spurts, it’s impossible to know whether or not they’ll be capable of handling a bigger role long-term without actually seeing it. For the Raptors in particular, Powell is probably the only young player that the team has a good grasp on.

So let the experiment begin. Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

And remember: It’s all part of the three-year plan.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s crazy to think in four NBA seasons, the raw prospect from Greece blistered into the game’s most...

Featured Content2 months ago

The Basketball Gods are in the Details: An Analysis of the Cavaliers/Celtics Trade

It has been a relatively quiet August, even for an NBA offseason. That all changed last night, when it was...