Phew. Three games in and the Raptors have taken us on the Canadian Minebuster already. So how are we liking the new-look Toronto? All the ups, downs, twists, turns, pros and cons of a team brimmed with youthful juvenescence. So far we’ve seen an energy-filled, defensively-stout, chaotic team that feasts on broken plays and disruption. A team that — much quicker than the NBA norm — finds itself with a crystal-clear team identity. Physically built on length, length and few more inches of length. Systematically built on physically-imposing POA defense, advanced defensive versatility and hyper-switching ability. Offensively? Your guess is as good as mine. In the Raptors lone win this season vs. the Boston Celtics, Toronto looked as good as humanly possible for a the team boasts the 7th youngest roster in the league. Roster-wise, the brightest spots begin and end with dynamic rookie Scottie Barnes. Through three games, he hasn’t just been the most consistent Toronto Raptor, but quite easily the most dominant. BTW, we got a bonus code to bet with bet365 available if you wish to try your luck.
Scottie Barnes in his first three games:
10.0 RPG (4.3 ORB)
Toronto got a good one pic.twitter.com/MIAwjkIO5K
— ProCity Hoops (@ProCityHoops) October 24, 2021
With the focus on the 3-0 Bulls — who’s quickly cemented themselves as one of the true ‘NBA League Pass’ teams across the league. An unbeaten roster with boundless athleticism paired with a graceful combination of outside shooting and silky-smooth slashing. All of that with a sprinkle of fun and energetic defensive sequences, cheered on by a newly-invigorated Chicago Bulls fanbase.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) October 24, 2021
Despite the Windy City’s new and shiny free agent toys hijacking the early headlines — the core of Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams and Nikola Vucevic have held down the fort admirably to begin the season. That isn’t to say Alex Caruso or Lonzo Ball haven’t had their moments. This is a team that’s asked two (really three, if you count Vucevic’s late 2020 season addition) players in Ball and DeRozan to take lead of a franchise that’s quickly become perennial losers as of late. With the added playmaking and slashing ability of both players, the Bulls look far more balanced than the mundane 2020-2021 iteration. DeRozan has fit into Chi-Town seamlessly with season averages of 21.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4 apg and 1 spg. Unsurprisingly, LaVine remains their leading scorer with 26.7 ppg.
No matter how you put it, it’s comforting to see DeRozan enjoy basketball in a city that wholly appreciates him… for him. In what many deemed a highly questionable decision to join the non-contending Bulls, DeRozan saw it as the perfect opportunity. Rather than joining superstar forces with LeBron James in LA, or taking less money to join another megastar like Stephen Curry, perhaps — DeMar seemed entirely content with using the last few years of his basketball prime to lead a franchise out of its dark ages and quickly transform into a winning culture — much like he did in Toronto.
And by all accounts, he’s off to a good start.
Tipoff: 7:30pm EST | TV: TSN4 / NBCS-CHI | Radio: TSN 1050.
PG: Lonzo Ball, Javonte Green, Ayo Dosunmu
SG: Zach Lavine, Alex Caruso
SF: DeMar DeRozan, Troy Brown, Derrick Jones Jr.
PF: Patrick Williams, Alize Johnson, Tyler Cook
C: Nikola Vucevic, Tony Bradley, Marko Simonovic
OUT: Coby White (shoulder)
PG: Fred VanVleet, Goran Dragic, Dalano Banton, Malachi Flynn
SG: Gary Trent Jr, Svi Mykhailiuk, Isaac Bonga, David Johnson
SF: OG Anunoby, Justin Champagnie, Sam Dekker
PF: Scottie Barnes, Chris Boucher
C: Precious Achiuwa, Khem Birch
OUT: Pascal Siakam (shoulder), Yuta Watanabe (calf)
Good news for Yuta! Aaron Rose of Sports Illustrated reports that Watanabe will miss Monday’s game versus Chicago, however will resume practicing with the Raptors on Tuesday. Rose notes that the forward may spend some time in the NBA G-League before officially rejoining the Raptors.
Much like Dallas, Chicago is also favoured by 3.5 points. The over/under total sits at 212. Bet responsibly!
NOTE: If you’re an avid reader/supporter of Raptors Republic, don’t forget to join myself, Oren Weisfeld and Adon Moss on our new LIVE postgame show ‘Rap Up’. Some of you were with us during our debut last season, and we appreciate the undying loyalty in an incredibly difficult season.
If the standard ‘Quick Reaction Grades’ comment section just doesn’t do it anymore and you’re absolutely itching to discuss, scream, shout (or, I don’t know – virtually hug) in a live comment section just as the buzzer sounds, we’ll be waiting!
Every. Game. Of. The. Season.
You can find the show live on YouTube, Twitch or Facebook. We clocked just over 1500 (!!!) total live viewers during last Friday’s Boston Celtics win. The RR community is incredibly smart, fun and engaging and we can’t wait to see more of you soon! Ciao!