Quick Reaction: Raptors 103, Heat 118

The season from hell comes to an end for the Toronto Raptors.

Box Score
G. Dick29 MIN, 14 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL, 5-13 FG, 1-5 3FG, 3-4 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -16 +/-

Gradey Dick has grown so much throughout this season. If there’s any indication of that, it was his first basket in this game when he jab-stepped and attacked a closeout, driving hard to the paint and finishing an and-one layup over Nikola Jovic. Or how about him blitzing to the corner and contesting a Tyler Herro triple, trying to do his best impression of Scottie Barnes defending a closeout. His rookie-season transformation was a treat to witness, and if that’s what he can accomplish with a mid-season conditioning stint, the potential seems limitless after Dick has a real NBA offseason with some experience under his belt.

O. Agbaji33 MIN, 10 PTS, 6 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 4-11 FG, 0-3 3FG, 2-3 FT, 1 BLK, 4 TO, 1 +/-

Ochai Agbaji remains an interesting prospect that cost the team little to acquire. I sound like a broken record, but it’ll come down to three-point shooting. We know he’s athletic and can defend in certain instances, like he did today, but he’s a 23 per cent three-point shooter with the Raptors. That’s seven per cent lower than his worst season in the NBA to this point, so hopefully it’s just an outlier, and next season he can get back to at least being serviceable from beyond the arc.

K. Olynyk22 MIN, 11 PTS, 8 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 5-9 FG, 1-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 4 TO, -13 +/-

Arguably one of the things I’m most excited for next season is seeing Kelly Olynyk back in a bench role. Spurts of Olynyk are awesome – he can operate an offence, score in bursts, and at times be a pesky defender in passing lanes – but it’s clear he’s overextended in a starting role. If that wasn’t evident before, seeing him match up against Bam Adebayo through back-to-back games and be completely neutralized should prove that point.

G. Trent Jr.23 MIN, 18 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 6-14 FG, 3-8 3FG, 3-3 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -18 +/-

It’s been an up-and-down season for Gary Trent Jr. Since the all-star break he’s averaged 19 points per game (up from 11 ppg), and some people attribute that to a lack of offensive talent around him and being able to take as many shots as he wants. But in fairness to Trent Jr., he’s also taken on more responsibility defensively, as a leader, and occasionally handling the ball. Like he’s done a couple times this season, GTJ had a quiet first half but woke up in the third quarter. The soon-to-be UFA has proven to be a lethal scoring option with at least the willingness to grow his game in other areas. The question is if he’ll be able to showcase any of that growth with the Raptors next season, or a different team.

J. Freeman-Liberty33 MIN, 8 PTS, 1 REB, 7 AST, 0 STL, 3-6 FG, 0-2 3FG, 2-2 FT, 2 BLK, 3 TO, 1 +/-

In a game with very little stakes, I would’ve liked to see Javon Freeman-Liberty take the reins as a starter and make the most of the opportunity, so it was disappointing to see him have a quiet night. I’m glad he was able to show more of the fanbase how fearless of a player he is around the rim, now it’s on him to develop that jumper some more and get better acclimated at running an offence. The team still needs a backup point guard, and for now he’s still more of a combo guard, but the spot is there for the taking.

B. Brown20 MIN, 6 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 3-5 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-1 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -16 +/-

Apparently Bruce Brown in end-of-season, meaningless games is the second coming of Michael Jordan? Okay, that’s probably too far, but his shot-making as of late in relation to the degree of difficulty on said shots, is ridiculous. He had an and-one deep mid-range jumper in this one that made my eyes go wide.

G. Temple25 MIN, 9 PTS, 3 REB, 7 AST, 0 STL, 1-8 FG, 1-5 3FG, 6-6 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 3 +/-

We have to give Garrett Temple the biggest salute. Not only for being the steady veteran presence all season through his voice but also for getting onto the floor and showing the young guys how you carve out a 13-year NBA career. In game 82 of an already lost season he stepped up and took a charge on Haywood Highsmith. Why? Because that’s what a good basketball player does. Whatever he could do to help this team win or at least be better, Temple did it.

M. Williams11 MIN, 6 PTS, 4 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 3-7 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -12 +/-

Kudos to Malik Williams for doing enough to earn a second contract after his first 10-day expired. The deal has no bearing beyond the end of this season, but the big man got a decent opportunity and showed what he can provide an NBA team. A big body who has a knack for rebounding. It was clear he was trying to showcase his offence in this game, looking for shots early, even hitting a mid-range jumper.

J. McDaniels23 MIN, 7 PTS, 2 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 2-7 FG, 1-2 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -1 +/-

He played. That’s about it. Darko Rajakovic calling a coach’s challenge (and losing) on a McDaniels foul was about the most eventful thing from his performance today. He’s not a UFA next season but McDaniels’ role has practically disappeared and is far removed from the player the Raptors hoped for when signing him last offseason. With the team back at full health next season, it’ll be hard to see how McDaniels finds time on the floor, so the future for him in Toronto seems murky, at best.

J. Nwora21 MIN, 14 PTS, 11 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 6-10 FG, 2-4 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -4 +/-

His most notable moment of this game was a filthy step-back triple in the fourth quarter. Another soon-to-be UFA and what level of desire the organization has for bringing Jordan Nwora back is a mystery to me. Feels like some of it will depend on what happens with Trent Jr. At his size and athletic ability, there is definitely untapped potential with Nwora, especially as a scoring option off the bench. But it’s also evident that he’s a liability on defence that needs to be insulated. Unless he miraculously figures things out on that end, his upside will be limited.

Darko Rajakovic

Darko Rajakovic’s rookie season as a head coach was full of circumstances not conducive for a veteran bench boss, let alone someone doing it for the first time. There was some good, and lots of bad, but that wasn’t all on him. Like most nights down this closing stretch, there wasn’t much coaching-wise to pick at, the team was just outgunned. The jury’s out for now on Rajakovic, next season we’ll start to get some answers.

Things We Saw

  1. The Raptors finish with a 25-57 record, their fewest wins since 2011-2012 (23 wins). Less wins than the Tampa season (27) and the fifth-fewest wins in a year in franchise history.
  2. We got one final wedgie in game 82 of the season. So that was something fun. Up to 57 wedgies on the season in the NBA (h/t https://www.wedgietracker.com/).
  3. The last thing I want to say is thank you. To each of you who read, watched, listened and followed along, whether it was my work or other RR members…thank you. For this to be my first season covering the team, despite the on-court outcomes, it was truly a meaningful experience. I learned, many times thanks to your comments, and got to be a part of a community – and that was truly special. It reaffirmed why I wanted to get into sports media. I’m excited for what next season holds, but that’s not for a bit, for now, I’m grateful to have gone through this nightmare-inducing season with each of you.