RAPTORS REPORT CARD: Barnes, Anunoby superb as lineup revamped vs. Wizards

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The Raptors returned from the holiday break looking refreshed and reinvigorated.

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Darko Rajakovic finally switched up the starting lineup and his players responded with a 132-102 blowout of the Washington Wizards. While it’s fair to point out the Wizards flat out stink and might finish with the NBA’s worst record if Detroit gets in gear, there were a lot of positives regardless of the opponent.

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Here’s the report card:

A+ SCOTTIE BARNES

This takes nothing away from OG Anunoby, because he was fantastic, too, but yet again, Barnes was the best player on the court. He did pretty much everything in his enhanced role as the new starting point guard and he did pretty much everything well. How many point guards lead all in rebounds as Barnes did? He also had five stocks (steals and blocks), eight assists, just two turnovers and looked supremely confident shooting the three (4-for-8). Barnes has All-NBA potential and he’s the reason Toronto is in better shape than many other currently struggling franchises.

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A OG ANUNOBY

Anunoby acted as the finisher and primary scoring option in this one and played that role well. His catch-and-shoot game was on point like always, but he also drove aggressively and was a nightmare inside for the Wizards (7-for-8 in the paint). Anunoby had his highest usage rate of the season in this one, another benefit of the lineup shuffling (Barnes actually saw his own usage rate drop).

A PASCAL SIAKAM

Maybe the best performance by a player judged only the third best on a given night we’ve seen in a long time. Siakam was awesome, too, and has a case for the second star. He tends to punish the Wizards and did so again. Whether it was with his patented spin move, driving and kicking or just making seeing-eye passes, Siakam was unstoppable. His 11 assists were a season high and he’s had more in a game only five times. Five of his assists led to either layups or dunks. If a Raptor cut, Siakam found them. He also set up four different Raptors for a three-point make.

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A- DENNIS SCHRODER

What do you know, one of the best backup point guards in the NBA played great as a backup point guard. In his proper role, Schroder was masterful. He picked the defensively challenged Wizards apart all game and looked like he was having fun despite the demotion. Schroder deserves credit for his professionalism and earned the team belt for his play and acceptance. Expect Toronto’s bench to be vastly improved with Schroder as its key piece.

B+ GARY TRENT JR.

We’ve called for it for a while and Trent responded by being placed in the starting lineup. He shot the ball well, providing badly needed spacing, was more aggressive than we’ve seen a lot of games on defence and also moved the ball well, like all of his teammates. Trent set up four buckets in the paint and forces opponents to run at him because he’s a threat to hit shots.

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B- CHRIS BOUCHER

Rajakovic rewarded Boucher for his good work this season by making him the second substitute called upon. Boucher spaced the floor (2-for-4 from three) and grabbed four rebounds in his 12 minutes and also had some disruptive defensive plays (sometimes he even got credit for them; the referees seem to call Boucher very closely, letting obvious blocks become fouls).

B- OTTO PORTER JR.

Comfortable in his longtime NBA home, Porter didn’t miss a shot and did a little bit of everything for Toronto n his 13 minutes. When available, Porter is an extremely useful bench piece for Rajakovic. He’s skilled, smart and long. He’s seen it all during his career and makes everyone better.

C+ JAKOB POELTL

Poeltl was solid and that was good enough. He outplayed Daniel Gafford, even in fewer minutes, though his non-stop fouling led to those decreased minutes. He can be better, but Poeltl can certainly be a lot worse than this. He was good enough.

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C+ MALACHI FLYNN

Relegated to last man in status, Flynn at least did well in his five minutes, hitting 2-of-3 shot attempts, all of them from three-point range. It appears he might have to earn more time after an up-and-down season.

C+ JALEN MCDANIELS

McDaniels got a shot to play again after being buried for weeks and took advantage. He played to his strengths, running the floor and using his athleticism and contributed. McDaniels looked like he was developing a shot last year in Charlotte but it hasn’t carried over in Toronto. He shot 2-for-7, including missing all four three-point attempts, but did everything else asked of him. There’s a player here that can help.

C PRECIOUS ACHIUWA

Achiuwa’s inconsistency seemed to catch up with him as Rajakovic revamped things. He only played 11 minutes, all in the second half, and was more good than bad in that time. Achiuwa didn’t do a lot, but he also didn’t do anything egregiously wrong.

A+ DARKO RAJAKOVIC

He gave this group all the time he could trying a different way, but made the right calls here. This is the way the Raptors should be deployed.

INC: GRADEY DICK, THADDEUS YOUNG

THREE STARS

1 Scottie Barnes

2 OG Anunoby

3 Pascal Siakam

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