The Toronto Raptors kickstarted their season facing LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets.
The Toronto Raptors had their first taste of NBA action for the 2020-2021 season, with a preseason win against the Charlotte Hornets. Despite not having Kyle Lowry available due to reasons undisclosed by the team; the Raptors looked like the second-best team in the NBA that they were a season ago. Many positives were taken from Saturday night’s action, with multiple key takeaways.
#1: New season, Same defense
The Raptors were ranked second in defensive rating last season and showed no signs of rust in their first preseason action. Although the Raptors were on the receiving end of a 22-0 run in the first quarter, that was due to the lack of offensive productivity, rather than their defense.
Fred Vanvleet displayed amazing perimeter defense, that the Raptors faithful are accustomed to seeing. Picking the pocket of multiple Hornets in the first half, finishing with a game-high 5 steals.
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse has always been a big advocate of a defense-first mentality. The new additions made by the Raptors front office already made an instant impact. In nine minutes of action, Alex Len tallied 2 steals and 1 block. Aron Baynes played tremendous defense despite it not resulting in the box score.
Rookie Malachi Flynn was amazing throughout the entirety of the game, with his defense being one of the more glaring aspects of it. His lateral quicks while defending the Hornets guards was quite impressive, and will be something Raptor fans should keep an eye on.
Chris Boucher reminded everyone that he was worth every penny of his 2-year $13.5 million contract. Boucher had a sequence in the third quarter denying Hornets rookie Nick Edwards, not once, but twice. Proving to be a defensive anchor in the paint despite his thin build.
Although the Raptors played against a Hornets team that will be towards the bottom of the Eastern conference, their defensive exhibition is nothing less than great. A great sign for the Raptors moving forward.