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Remembrance Day Reflections/Checkpoint

Remembrance Day

A Remembrance Day salute followed by a Raptors deep dreath…

Considering what Remembrance Day means and represents, allow me to put the Raps on hold for a sec. In other words, first things first. Besides, after Thursday night’s dramatics that included seven of the game’s 22 lead changes taking place in the fourth quarter, I’m sure we can all still use a breather…

It goes without saying but needs to be addressed anyway, today is a day we honour and pay homage to those who devoted and sacrificed their lives in the name of protecting and fighting for the way we live today. And even though every single soldier and service member warrants our attention on any other day of the year (something I personally need to be cognizant of), at least for one day they’re given a chance to enter an entire country’s mindset and shown the proper respect they deserve. I think I can safely speak for every writer and reader of this community when I say a few moments of silence and reflection are the least we can do.

While we’re on the subject of fallen soldiers, be sure to add another to your thoughts if you haven’t already: RIP, Roy Halladay, you will be missed. Just reaching the age of 40 is just not fair.

It’s a trip how timing works, though, and this past week offered a few prime examples. After the passing of a beloved Toronto sports figure, one could say R.J. Barrett’s announcement that he’ll be attending Duke University potentially represents the birth of another. Any chance he stays all four years? Alright, that’s a topic for another day. Instead, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention another noteworthy event of the past week as it included the (overdue) induction of the Edmonton Grads (Edmonton Commercial Graduates Ladies Basketball Team to be exact) into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Their significance? I’ll let CBC’s The National take that one:

The path of Women’s Basketball (and Basketball as a whole for that matter) could have progressed much faster if World War II didn’t rear its ugly head. Though something tells me a conversation with the only living member, Kay Macbeth, would be an enjoyable one. I’d be sure to ask her about the need to adjust her shooting stroke and if she had any advice for Lonzo Ball.

Note: I recommend the “Shooting Stars” documentary for a more extended look.

Now, without further ado, enter the Raptors:

If a season is viewed through a lens of 10-game intervals (not a bad philosophy all things considered), then Remembrance Day marks the year’s first checkpoint. So, what have we learned? Or, what questions should we be asking? Take your pick of the Raps’ mixed bag:

A) Should we be concerned with Serge Ibaka’s occasional mental lapses and in-game disappearing acts? That might need a couple more 10-game intervals to answer definitively. At this point, the combo of having the third highest turnover rate (14.5 per game) mixed with a 28th overall ranking in opponents fast break poins is a more pressing priority.

B) The up and down swings that so much emphasis on the 3-point shot can cause. Which in turn, leads to a debate over whether a team should be so aggressive when attempting to adapt to a trending style of play. I get it, the Raps aren’t exactly equipped to zig when the majority of the league zags. But they aren’t exactly equipped for a smooth transition, either. It’s a grey area but I still refuse to buy into the simplified “make or miss league” description of the NBA.

Speaking of 3-point shots:

C) I’ve said it before but since this storyline will never end, the mainstream media is putting me back to work. Simply put, DeMar DeRozan’s performance so far should be doing everything in its power to quiet the noise over “the need” for him to add it his resume. With the media constantly being enamoured with what-ifs instead of celebrating what’s actually taking place, it’s almost as if draining seven threes over his last four games has done him more harm than good. His mid-range game, though, however many pundits suggests it limits his overall worth, has just become that much of a dagger. Especially when defenses have shifted their primary concerns to keeping up with the aforementioned new offensive way of life. As for his beyond-the-arc potential, well, we’ve been down this road too many times to get our hopes up. But that doesn’t mean his advancement as a facilitator hasn’t been a sufficient enough consultation prize.

D) As far as the Raps’ young guns are concerned, a mixed bag is supposed to exist. But the fact that every member of the crew (sans Bruno) has either shined for extended stretches or exceeded overall expectations (sans Powell), this is not the time to be worried about who’s starting or what the rotation’s pecking order is. Hell, even as I grind it out in the mailroom at JV Hive & Associates, I realize that this is not the time to preach for more playing time. It’s early, there’s bigger fish to fry, and giving the young guns as much run as they can handle only aids the ultimate objective. And hey, the 905 are currently experimenting with Bruno at center… fingers crossed.

Fish to Fry / Main Objective: Correcting last season’s misstep of actually allowing your depth to be an advantage in the postseason. With Lowry currently sitting at 31 minutes a night (6 full minutes down from his previous two seasons), the long-term benefit of riding the current wave is there for the taking. Casey can cut the fat at a later date, but all hands on deck will mean just that when the moment calls for it.

Bottom Line: Countless professional sports teams have tried to opreate from both sides of the equation. But having one foot all in and the other rebuilding in the background usually just prolongs the latter. As for the Raps, well, the idea of bucking that trend is gaining steam.

A must-see matchup with Boston is up next on Sunday afternoon, but before you get your beer and popcorn ready, #RememberToReflect.

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