The Toronto Raptors appeared to be sputtering after two consecutive preseason losses, and it appears as if the likes of OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes stepped up in convincing fashion against No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green and the Houston Rockets.
The Raptors roared out to a 9-0 start and never looked back, as projected starters like Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa, and Gary Trent Jr. completely ripped apart a weak Rockets defense. Houston is a young offense still figuring things out, and they looked like it against Toronto.
Nearly everyone on the Raptors was making plays last night, and everyone on that roster can have a few signature moments to point to as proof that they should be a member of this roster when the regular season comes around.
Which Toronto Raptors players took the Rockets to school and helped the squad pick up their second preseason win? Were there any players who wish they could have this night back?
Grading OG Anunoby and 4 Toronto Raptors notables
Anunoby was nothing short of magnificent tonight, as he made the most of his 17 minutes by shooting how dominant he has become on both sides of the ball. Not only has he been locking down whoever he is up against, but he looks ready to make a run at Most Improved given how his offense looks.
OG Anunoby was dominating for the Toronto Raptors.
Anunoby recorded 17 points on 5-10 shooting while snagging four rebounds and making life hell for Green on the offensive end. Fans got a little glimpse of what he could do over the course of 104 preseason minutes, and with 77 points to his name in addition to confirming his expanded offensive toolbox, Anunoby has taken a massive stride forward.
Barnes put up 10 points in 26 minutes, failing to make a 3-point shot. While that stat line might sound like he had a poor day at the office, he showed that he can still impact the game in a variety of ways without scoring 30 points every night.
Barnes hauled in four rebounds, dished out two assists, recorded three steals, and blocked a shot. With Anunoby and Fred VanVleet likely to take up most of the scoring responsibility every night, the fact that Barnes is showing the multitude of ways in which he can make a difference is an encouraging sign.
The native Canadian played in his second home game, and he made sure to give everyone back in Rexdale something to drool over. On top of some stellar defense, Banton made arguably the play of the night by banking in a very deep 3-pointer to extend Toronto’s lead to 16 in the second.
The Toronto Raptors must like what they’ve seen from Dalano Banton
Banton already looks like he’ll be a pest on the defensive end in limited action, and while that 3-pointer looked more like good fortune than a sign of major improvement, he looks more calm and decisive on offense, and that’s what Toronto wanted to see.
Bonga is one of a handful of players trying to make the final roster on a non-guaranteed contract. While Sam Dekker and Freddie Gillespie didn’t move the needle much, Bonga made plays on both ends, totaling three rebounds and three assists in just 11 minutes while coming in with a tidy +16 plus-minus mark.
Bonga and Ishmail Wainright turned in the two best performances of non-guaranteed players in this game. With Yuta Watanabe basically having sealed up one of the final spots, it’s encouraging to see someone like Bonga take advantage of this opportunity.
Birch finally made his debut after recovering from a positive COVID-19 test. While Achiuwa has been lighting the stat sheet on fire, Birch was more measured in his debut, scoring just two points and grabbing two rebounds.
Birch will need to play a bit better than this in the regular season, especially if Achiuwa keeps threatening his minutes by playing so well. However, with his COVID-19 positive test only a few weeks in the past and rust still present, he gets a pass for not being as assertive as he usually is.