Should we retire both Lowry’s 3 and 7 jersey?
“It was really clear that once we sort of got to August 1, there was nothing going on in the world of sports to talk about but that fight,” Espinoza told SI.com. “So much of what we do is about trying not to handicap ourselves by going up against the NBA, NFL, to get that earned media.” In recent years, summer months have become heavily populated with boxing. Said Espinoza, “We look at those months now as pretty fertile ground.”
A summer schedule could offer data that could lead the NBA to come to a similar conclusion. Evidence of the success of summer basketball is already there: Zion Williamson’s summer debut, last July, earned a 1.2 rating on ESPN, a single game summer league record. Summer league ratings on ESPN jumped 35% (an average of 601,000 viewers) from 2018. In the middle of summer, even teams largely populated by fringe prospects draws an audience.
While at ESPN, Skipper, former Turner Sports president David Levy and NBA commissioner Adam Silver would talk often about making the NBA a year-round league. Skipper sees the evolution of viewing habits, which includes the growing number of people who watch sports on computers and phones, as further evidence that a summer season could be successful. “I think summer basketball can work,” Skipper said in a telephone interview. “In terms of TV viewership, people are going to watch the Finals. I don’t think the fact that it is in the summer is going to change that.”
The Raptors wouldn’t have won last year’s title without dealing for Kawhi Leonard, but it wasn’t simply one move that swung the title. Marc Gasol was a key deadline addition, and Serge Ibaka turned back the clock with a collection of clutch playoff performances. Toronto’s bench was also a revelation.
The Raptors’ bench mob was one of the fiercest second units in the league last season, making Toronto a team that actually thrived when Leonard sat. Lineups featuring Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka outscored teams by 11.2 points per 100 possessions. The VanVleet, Siakam, Danny Green trio had a net rating of plus-18.3. Toronto largely mauled opposing benches en route to the Finals last year. Can Nick Nurse replicate that dominance in the 2020 postseason?
There’s a similar infrastructure in place this season, though with a touch less depth. VanVleet has graduated to the starting lineup, and the likes of Pat McCaw, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris Boucher have assumed additional responsibility. Boucher remains an intriguing big man. The other two have their shortcomings. Still, this is a veteran team that has largely cruised through the regular season. Toronto has a strong case as the best Eastern Conference team behind Milwaukee if its core continues to produce.
Now, more than a decade after he burst onto the national scene in the NCAA Tournament with Davidson, five years after he first became an MVP, many of his fans are young adults. And a large percentage of them are, typically, drunk on invincibility. And they need to understand the gravity of this pandemic and the danger they’re in.
So Curry became their representative, their access. He asked their questions, from submissions on Twitter, and conveyed their confusion or concern.
“We’re not overreacting, right?” Curry asked Fauci.
“You’re absolutely right,” Fauci responded to the two-time MVP. “This is serious business.”
Not only does Curry have the ear of the demographic, he has the credibility. It’s not just the size of his audience, but the image he has carefully crafted over his 11-year NBA career. His interest in social justice and willingness to step into the controversial fray — whether it was criticizing his own shoe company, supporting Colin Kaepernick or rejecting a White House invitation and inciting a beef with President Donald Trump — has made him unquestionably qualified and ready for this. He’s not the only one, but he’s clearly among the most willing.
The result was a clear, honest and digestible conversation — which is meaningful amid the information overload this pandemic has caused. For some who have already dived into this issue, the questions and answers might have been basic and well known. But they weren’t for those who are gobbling up articles and charts and the instructions of scientists. This dime wasn’t for you.
According to a 2018 Pew Research Center study, 80 percent of Gen Z teens turn to YouTube to learn. According to a study released last June, 49 percent get their news from some form of social media. They aren’t reading dense articles or watching CNN on loop. They also are less trusting of media. So Curry creating a platform, a large one, to disseminate facts and debunk myths is extra meaningful to that audience.
Welcome to the Elite Eight of the Greatest Raptors Regular Season Performances of All-Time Tournament — the GRRSPoAT for short of course. This past weekend, a field of 16 was chopped in half to create the regional semifinal match-ups before you today. And as was the case in the opening round, while there were some disagreements between your one-man committee and the will of the people, most of the results made some amount of the sense. Note the keyword: most.
Here were my personal choices, and the voting splits at the time I made my picks.Only the result of the Ibaka-Bosh tilt in Saunders region flipped by the time voting closed.
The most prescient Raptors question leading into the 2019-20 season was if Siakam, who had just signed a max contract extension, could take the next step and become a true No. 1 scoring option?
The departure of Kawhi Leonard left a big hole to be filled and expectations were sky-high for Siakam to fill that void because of the Cameroonian’s meteoric growth arc that saw him not even playing organized basketball a decade ago to becoming a breakout star in the NBA Finals.
Player development can be a fickle thing, though. Another season doesn’t necessarily mean steady improvement over the last one for most players.
Luckily for the Raptors, however, Siakam isn’t like most players.
With career-best averages of 23.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists, Siakam was enjoying the best season of his NBA career before the league pressed pause. He was named a starter for his first career All-Star appearance and looked every bit worth that contract extension he signed.
Granted, it hasn’t been perfect for Siakam as he’s tried to adjust to his new role. Near the beginning of the season, he struggled identifying double teams quickly enough and making the right pass, and while the volume of his shots has increased, his field-goal percentage has never been lower.
These are all correctable things, however, and can be seen as growing pains more than anything. This was likely the first time in Siakam’s life he was called upon to carry the scoring load as the primary option and it showed.
As the season progressed, though, he’s looked a little more comfortable finding the right pass out of doubles. And while his shooting percentages are lower, the volume of shots he’s taking are better overall, as he’s more than doubled his attempts from three-point range from a season ago and has even added an above-the-break three-pointer to his arsenal.
It’s always been fun watching Siakam figure things out and then explode, but this season more than any other before, with the weight of expectation pressing down on him, it was that much more enjoyable seeing him rise to the challenge head-on, going from a good player to a bona fide star.
DeMar on Kyle Lowry: “He’s the best Raptor of all time, and that’s coming from me”
Yet NBA Twitter just can’t accept the fact that he is one of the greatest point guards of the 2010s pic.twitter.com/6rXIMMLraA
— ₭L07 (@RapsKL07) March 26, 2020
NBA.com’s Carlan Gay and Scott Rafferty take a look at one of the greatest Raptors of all-time – Kyle Lowry and how he’s changed his game over the last four years. From an iso and pick and roll scorer to one of the better playmakers in the league, Lowry’s done it all in just four short years.
The guys dive deep into the numbers and more on this episode dedicate to Lowry.