Gary Trent Jr. and the Toronto Raptors came out of the gate playing like their hair was on fire in the preseason, dominating the Utah Jazz by 32 points in a victory and mounting a crazy comeback against the Boston Celtics in their house. After getting their butts kicked by the Rockets, Toronto welcomed the Chicago Bulls up north.
The first and third quarters made it seem like two different teams were playing. After putting up 38 points early on, largely on the back of starters like Trent and Fred VanVleet nailing it from 3-point range, the Bulls beat the brakes off Toronto with an 18-5 start to the third stanza.
The Raptors managed to hit a few timely shots to get back into things, but the backups were annihilated in the fourth quarter before a 115-98 loss sent Toronto plummeting to 2-2. Toronto will end its preseason schedule with another matchup against the Celtics.
The Raptors were incredibly uneven in this game, as every solid performance was weighed down by someone who did not do an adequate job of executing Nick Nurse’s game plan. Two of those performances, one good and one bad, stand out above the rest.
Gary Trent Jr. was a force for the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors need Trent to replicate the magic he showed during his first full season with the team, as they are counting on him to be an effective shooter that can make up for some of this team’s deficiencies. Star Pascal Siakam did record a double-double, Trent gets this nod because he was methodical when the ball was in his hands.
Trent scored 17 points on 6-8 shooting in 29 minutes, amassing three assists and two steals as well. Not only is he in the process of improving his passing and showing the same defensive annoyance that made him such a pleasant surprise, but he’s doing so while consistently generating offense for a team that has struggled to shoot.
Trent may be one of the most underrated players in the league, as averaging 18 points per game for a playoff team in a year where he turned 23 years old is exceedingly rare. Trent looks prepared to come into the 2022-23 campaign with his trademark perimeter game sizzling.
O.G. Anunoby struggled offensively for the Toronto Raptors.
Anunoby had a very fun sequence early in the game, as he blocked consecutive Zach LaVine jump shots in another display of defensive excellence. Raptors fans started the preseason excited to see what tools he added to his bag on the offensive end, but they still haven’t seen him be as surgical or dominant as many expected.
Anunoby was just 2-7 from the field and again failed to make a single 3-point shot on the evening. Now 1-11 from 3-point range in the preseason, Anunoby continues to lack a top-shelf handle or much of a plan when he starts roaring to the basket. All that can be overlooked, however, if O.G. finds his shot from deep again.
This is still the preseason, and Anunoby is likely going to be back to his old self when the regular season gets cranked back up. Even with those wallowing in doom and gloom ignored, Anunoby may not be that close to once again improving upon his points per game average from the prior season.