Each week we bring you the most important play, stat, or moment from every Toronto Raptors game. This week’s highlights include OG Anunoby’s passing, Pascal Siakam’s improved handles, and Chris Boucher going off.
The Toronto Raptors have gone through a roller coaster of emotions during the past week. They started off hot, winning their first two games of the week. However, in that second win, they lost Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka to injury. Then, they went on the road shorthanded and beat LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. The past week was good, bad, and great.
And in that week, we also learned a lot about this team. I went through each game and picked the one thing which stood out the most. This week’s highlights include OG Anunoby dishing dimes, Pascal Siakam showing his guard skills, and Chris Boucher making a case he belongs in the rotation.
OG Anunoby dishes five assists
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OG Anunoby’s game against the Sacramento Kings had a lot of positives. He scored 18 points on 7-10 from the field, including 3-4 from 3-point range, he went grabbed five rebounds, and he erased three different shots.
However, it’s his passing which was the most impressive. Prior to the game, Anunoby recorded just eight assists in six contests. He showed improvement in almost every area of his game, except playmaking.
Against the Kings, he showed growth in the one area of his game which still looks like a weakness. He dished five assists while recording a few hockey assists as well as it was his best passing game of the young season.
One pass, in particular, stood out:
Here Anunoby makes the cut, understands he needs to make the pass prior to receiving the ball, and drops it to Marc Gasol all within a couple of seconds. He’s seeing the game at a different level this season. Last year’s OG Anunoby doesn’t make that play.
Anunoby still isn’t a great playmaker for others and still has a ton of room to grow in that regard. However, he’s showing flashes of improved playmaking which we didn’t see in prior years.
Pascal Siakam’s handles are guard-esq
When Pascal Siakam first entered the league, he was almost strictly an “energy guy.” He relied on grabbing rebounds, dunks, and working hard on defense. Year two he stretched his game out a little bit more, showing confidence handling the ball a little bit. Last season, he was running the break and even an occasional pick-and-roll.
And now, Siakam’s capable of bringing the ball up like a point guard. In the game against the New Orleans Pelicans, he took 94-feet of pressure, hit the defender with a variety of moves, and then finished strong at the rim.
Pascal Siakam’s improvement as a shooter receives a lot of praise (as it should). However, his improvements in other aspects are just as responsible for his rise to All-Star status.
Chris Boucher looks rotation quality
With Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry out, the Toronto Raptors needed to get solid production out of some of their fringe pieces to have any chance against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Chris Boucher went above and beyond that. The 26-year-old big man played 24 minutes going off for 15 points, two steals, and two blocks.
This next stretch of games will be critical to Boucher’s future in the NBA. He’s 26-years-old. If he doesn’t prove to be a rotation quality player soon, well, there just aren’t many guys past 27 who aren’t a part of a rotation.
He’ll need to produce throughout Ibaka’s absence, but Sunday night’s performance was a huge step in the right direction. He played well while at power forward and center. There are areas where he can grow, but for the first time in his career, he felt like a real player rather than a novelty item.