The Raptors got in a full slate of games over the past seven days — four contests! — and what it’s shown us about the state of their deep bench has been telling. As the chronicler of these travails, I’d be remiss in not noting the sudden flip from the Age of Terence Davis to the Era of Pat McCaw — a short-lived time of much mirth and merriment. The Raptors’ eighth man position feels fairly set right now, and it’s made the dash for minutes beyond that — an absolute necessity to preserve the starters during a long regular season — into an even more mysterious and desperate situation.
But you don’t come here to the End of Bench Chronicles for pain, misery, and confusion, you come to be inspired. The Raptors do indeed employ upwards of nine players just looking for their chance to prove they belong — and that remains a heartening thing. How did they do this week? And more importantly, what can help them next week? Let’s review.
Eighth Man Title Holder
Trust Meter: 9 out of 10
Happenings: After missing two of four Raptors games this past week, we finally got the full McCaw experience. We have to give him the lead spot here because, well, coach Nick Nurse has confirmed this to be the working arrangement going forward (and because Davis’ minutes quickly dropped to an average of 45 seconds per game). Credit to McCaw though, he’s now shot 3-for-5 across two games — including a made 3 — and only leaned into a few self-generated chaos moments. His defensive highlights still seem to come by accident in a right place, right time type of way, but sure, McCaw is carrying his weight. Fine.
Roster Roll Call
Trust Meter: 5 out of 10
Happenings: Davis was the 8th man off the bench vs. Boston, and got some good run in against Chicago. But he was largely unproductive in both contests, and was then relegated entirely to garbage time seconds. The Trust Meter hasn’t crashed yet because Davis is still due for something in Toronto. (The question now though becomes: does it make sense to send him to the G League to get in 30 minutes a night while running a team vs. playing 30 seconds a night and just running?)
Inspiration: I didn’t want to go so quickly to my bag of Terence Davies jokes here, but with the sun setting (for now) on Davis as an NBA rotation player, we have to get him to watch The Long Day Closes.
Trust Meter: 2 out of 10
Happenings: Let me just say I never thought we’d be five games into the season having seen just four minutes of play for RHJ. Heading into the year, I figured he was due for some action by virtue of his defensive ability and versatility. Instead, bupkus. Is Hollis-Jefferson not 100 percent? Or is there really just no place for him? I remain unconvinced.
Inspiration: Last week on the subway, I saw a man on the opposite platform talking expressively and urgently with his hands while a woman looked on with, hmmm, let’s call it polite interest. Was he man-splaining? Was something bad happening? Or was it good? Either way, it’s the kind of pointed urgency RHJ has to live with now.
Trust Meter: 6 out of 10
Happenings: Thomas played for real in the game against the Bulls and did what he was supposed to do: hit threes. He went 2-for-3 from deep, and also grabbed three boards and a steal. I’m not sure what else Thomas can possibly do to make his case for more playing time. Still, it appears as though he’s still locked in the 10th or 11th man spot.
Inspiration: Do it for all the Thomases!!! (Thomaii?)
Matt Thomas said that his NBA debut against Chicago was the first time his entire immediate family had seen him play together since he was in college.
— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) October 28, 2019
Trust Meter: 2 out of 10
Happenings: This may be a fever dream now, but it is possible to recall a time when Stanley Johnson credibly defending both LeBron James (in the playoffs!) and Kawhi Leonard (in the regular season). It felt like, if nothing else, Johnson had a place in the NBA as an elite defender. I… I do not know what to say about that anymore.
Inspiration: Not Joey Graham.
Trust Meter: 4 out of 10
Happenings: I want to believe Boucher can take the role of the former Toronto great, Lucas Nogueira (minus the, uh, depression). Much like the Brazilian, Boucher got some short bursts to make things happen. And while he remains completely unphased by any of it Boucher hasn’t exactly seized the moment. Last night’s game against Detroit where Boucher galloped down the court but declined to drive it all the way in on a 1-on-1 fastbreak was a pretty good summary of the entire experience as it stands. Boucher needs to regain his mojo.
Inspiration: A risqué pick, but let’s go with George Costanza’s, uh, rediscovery of himself.
Trust Meter: 1 out of 10
Happenings: Poor Malcolm is now in a suit on the Raptors bench. I can’t even make a Malcolm In the Middle reference here because, well, the guy hasn’t been in the middle of anything. He did grab three rebounds in his four minutes against the Bulls, but that, sadly, is not quite indicative of much — the Bulls are terrible. For my money, I’m just kind of confused why Miller doesn’t get a shot. He’s been in the Raptors’ system now for a couple of years, and the window is closing on whether or not he can meaningfully contribute for the team. Why not give him a try?
Inspiration: “It Might Be Time”, the new single from Tame Impala (who may have an album coming out some day?) is, technically speaking, not an up-beat song. True to late period form, it’s more sad than anything. Yet it’s still incisive and, in a weird way, motivating. Keep pushing!
Trust Meter: 1 out of 10
Happenings: Nothing. Dewan just has to live in the knowledge that he’s going to get that chance to sink or swim at some point in the future. Maybe soon? Maybe not?
Inspiration: The only useful thing to suggest now is: Discover Mississauga.
Did the Two-Wayers Play?
No, but in their defense they are preparing to take the court next week with the new 905 in the G League. There are a pair of exhibition games schedule for November 2 and 5. Get in there Oshae Brissett and Shamorie Ponds!